It’s true that the holiday season can be a time of year filled with joy and happiness. But unfortunately, it can also be a time of year where people experience a great deal of stress. There are so many tasks to take care of that require us to be out and about: everything from holiday gift shopping for friends and family, to grocery store trips to pick up ingredients for a holiday feast. However, pair harsh winter weather with holiday festivities, and it’s easy to see why disabled parking in winter can be a lot more challenging. (Not to mention disabled parking in snow, which is a whole other ballgame!) To help make things a little easier for you, here’s a breakdown of how the festive period and disabled parking permit holders can still go together in harmony.
What issues are there for disabled badge holders in winter?
Being a disabled driver comes with its own unique challenges year-round. You most likely have mobility issues that make getting around difficult. Even though a disabled parking permit can help give you better access to convenient parking places, you still always have to make sure your handicap placard is up-to-date and is visible anytime you park. With these aspects at play, you also need to make sure you’re constantly following all of the rules of the road. So, why are the festive period and handicap parking permit holders not always a good match? Because the hectic holiday season only brings about more stressors. Let’s look at some of the issues that can make holiday parking such a drag.
- More lines. Because more people are out and about during the holiday season, that means there are more queues (of people, of cars, etc.). More lines often mean that your time is negatively impacted, which only furthers people’s grumpiness.
- Poor road conditions. Bad winter weather often causes poor road conditions, especially in states that are hit the hardest by winter snowstorms. Bad road conditions can make it even harder for disabled drivers to travel around, whether they’re drivers or passengers.
- Lack of handicap spots. When there are way more people than usual at a shopping center or mall, parking spots tend to be taken up really quickly. It’s not uncommon for a person without a handicap permit to park in a handicap spot simply because there are no other available parking places (not that it makes it right!). Less available handicap spots, whether they’re filled legitimately or not, means that you could find that you can’t get access to the stores you need to visit during the busy holiday months.
- Christmas shopping stress. More stress results in more unhappy drivers. Everyone is so busy running around preparing for the holidays that they can sometimes lose sight of the Christmas spirit. This can even manifest as parking lot arguments over available spots. Any sort of added tension can impact disabled drivers when they’re traveling around their neighborhood.
While all of these stressors can be frustrating, they’re all understandable considering the kinds of pressures that surround the holiday season. Whether you’re worrying if you picked out the right gift for your spouse or how you’re going to afford a dinner party feast for 10 people, it’s easy to see why a lack of available handicap parking spots would be just one more headache to add to your day.
How can you deal with these inconveniences?
- Stay calm. The number one most important thing you can do is to stay calm, even when your stress levels are shooting through the roof. Getting worked up, especially during a parking lot confrontation, can end up leading to serious consequences. Remember to take deep breaths and count to 10 (multiple times if you need to) in order to not get worked up or aggravated. Losing your cool will only mean that the people around you will also become upset; exude a calm vibe and people just might start to emulate your peacefulness instead.
- Plan out your trips ahead of time. Even though it takes a few extra minutes, it’s a good idea to plan out your trips before you leave your home. Make a list of what you need to buy and where you need to go to get it. Then plan out a specific route that will make it easiest for you to find handicap parking along the way. Taking time to plan will end up saving you time, since you’ll be less stressed and overwhelmed and can be more strategic about your errands. You can also avoid unnecessary traffic if you plan your route thoughtfully.
- Allow more time than usual. When planning your trips, try to allow more time than you typically need for each of your errands. Allowing more time means that you’re not pressuring yourself to fit too much in at once, leading you to have a less stressed-out attitude overall.
- Avoid busy times and high-traffic areas. If at all possible, get your shopping done when the stores are less likely to be busiest. Typically, weekday evenings and weekends will be the busiest since that’s when most people are off work and have time to shop. If you can stick to less busy times of the week, you’ll most likely find that you have a better chance of finding a parking place where you can use your disabled parking permit. Likewise, high-traffic areas, such as popular shopping centers or busy malls, will also be more stressful to shop at. Your best bet is to find smaller boutiques near you or shop online to avoid busy places where it might be hard for you to find a handicap spot. Tip: avoid shopping on Black Friday (or even that whole weekend) if possible. That’s when you’ll happen upon the biggest crowds and usually the most rabid shoppers hunting ruthlessly for good deals.
To make sure you’re avoiding the craziness of the holiday season, remember to be super-mindful on the roads and always keep your permit valid and up-to-date. That way you can snag those primo handicap parking places anytime you’re out during the festive period!