Enjoy resort pool with AFOs

This post has been updated as of March 2020. If you are looking for Resort fashion for people who wear afos or orthotics, go here

The fantasy of a tropical escape from the freezing winter is what powers many people through another 4 inches of snow to shovel or their extra long commute home from work on ice covered roads.  Think resort.  Think swimming.  Think vacation!

My husband and I love going to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. The weather is always perfect, and we get to truly relax without having to really plan or think.

For us, one of the best parts of getting away is the planning.  It’s our vacation foreplay. We love using sites like Tripadvisor to scan through photos and traveler reviews.  At this stage of planning, the sky truly is the limit!

This year we chose the Secrets Akumal Resort in Riviera Maya. The resort was breathtaking and lived up to its many 5-star reviews. The service, beach, entertainment, and even the food was amazing.

But, our favorite part of any resort – the main pool – was missing an essential element… A WAY TO GET IN & OUT.  Yeah, I know.  No biggy if you don’t wear AFOs.  Well, Girlfriend, I do.

I have since learned my lesson. Here are a few resort tips for sunbathers with physical disabilities:

Tip #1  ZOOM IN

The Secrets Akumal Resort is only two years old and has a very modern and clean design. Had I zoomed in on the pool photos, I might have noticed that the infinity pool was not the accessible, zero entry kind.

I expected the pool to have ankle-deep water that gradually got deeper the further one walked. Instead, the main pool with the only swim-up bar had steep staircases without a single handrail for assistance.

Although I have to wear two AFOs (leg braces) due to a neuromuscular disorder, it had never occurred to me to use key phrases such as “disability friendly” or “wheelchair accessible” in my vacation research. I will from now on.


Many travel agents and companies get their information from resort websites and stock photos. Unless they have personally visited, they have no more information than you do.

Before deciding on a resort, bypass the agents and centralized reservation call center by calling the resort directly.

I have found that the resort concierges speak fluent English and will happily answer questions like “Which building is closest to the main pool?” or “Does the pool have a handrail and stairs?” Make sure to write down the concierge’s name as you can use it for the next tip.


If you spoke to a concierge person before arriving at the resort, ask for him or her at check-in. Or, if the resort you are staying at has a VIP or Preferred Club and it doesn’t break the bank, it may be worth it for the perks.

A $20 token of appreciation to a staff member on day one goes a long way. They will be more than happy to reserve prime lounge chairs with easy access to the pool, and they will make sure your every need is met.


While we were at the Secrets Resort without the stairway handrail, I didn’t want to rely on my husband’s assistance each time I exited the pool. I wanted a swimming vacation.  Independent of assistance.  So, instead, I took a large foam raft (the resort had many floating around the pool) and laid it on the hard cement at the top of the stairs.

When I was ready to get out of the pool, I scooched my butt to the top using the raft as a cushion for my hands and knees to get into a standing position.


cocktails - no stairway in heaven

When navigating the open terrain of these glossy, modern resorts becomes too challenging, don’t feel defeated if you opt to resign to your lounger. Take advantage of the excuse to have people bring you fancy cocktails, and enjoy them (guilt free) while you soak up the sun!

You’re in paradise; time to make the most of it!  And if you’re curious how to look like a vacationing goddess, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help with that as well.  Hey, I’m a girl helping a girl with fashion, comfort, and fun!

Stairway to HeavenHow to enjoy pool with invisible disability


  1. Which AFOs are you wearing, Lainie? Also, I LOVE your sandals and those cute black sneakers with the studs. Who makes those? I wear Helios AFOs and while they are amazing in the support and energy-return aspects, shoes and pants are a bit of a challenge. Maybe I need a second pair of AFOs to expand my wardrobe options?!

  2. I just spoke to your mom. I suspected you were her daughter and my second cousin, so I called her to verify. Many people suffer unseen disabilities ranging in degrees. The problems these disabilities cause in everyday life are many. The problem of pool entry and exiting at major Mexican and American resorts hit home. I am a swimmer. While I can still jump in off the side, I cannot exit feeling secure. There are no handrails at those stairs. There are slippery stairs and decks which have made shower clogs or ocean shoes a must pack. In one of the hresorts in Mexico, there are steep stair cases down to the lavatories. The stair treads are the depth of a kid’s shoe. This is a great idea you have. I’m glad your mom shared it with me on FB. I look forward to other posts.

  3. I just your site from Facebook. I also wear the blue rockers. I see you can wear them with sandals? You don’t have problems with it? I miss wearing them in the summer. What brand are they?

    • Hi,

      I had the Orthotist line the back of them in a breathable moleskin type fabric. The fabric is black and blends right in. I wore sandals also when I had the hard kind with AFO liners. LMK if that helps. Thanks for writing ?

  4. Hi Lainie, I’m very new to this site and would like to share something from my recent visit with my neuromuscular neurologist. I am on my 3rd set of braces which I would like to burn! I will be 70 in May, live in Arizona, and wearing sox, gaunlet leather braces, then shoving my foot into a shoe which will accommodate the whole mess. So I asked my dr, can I wear work boots? I almost cried when she said yes, but with my orthodics AND she said I could wear cowboy boots also, not soft ones, the hard ones with a flat heel. If I’m having problems I can go to an external brace. So far I have found pink, gray, blue, black, brown and the yellow-ish color. She also suggested hicking boots with lots of firmness and support. Cannot wait to shop, i will have challenges with skinny narrow feet with collasped ankles.

    • That’s so cool and very exciting I get it to find you can now wear things you thought you couldn’t. Please share a photo on the Facebook page sometime so others can see.

  5. Hi Lanie, thanks for the wonderful post! I truly appreciate your input on all things — invisible. I am planning a vacation with my high schooler (freshman) and while he isn’t to thrilled about going, we really need to get away. Will be visiting Florida to see my sister and mom, and I am a little anxious about getting through the airport. I haven’t travelled since my I got my AFO (I am on my third style, in about a year). What advice can you recommend for managing walking through the terminal and getting on/off plane? Also, I would like to hit up one of the theme parks with my sister and son. Any recommendations on spending the day at Universal Studios? I will not be able to walk for any extended period of time without my cane (its very fashionable, blue with lovely peacocks on it), since I get pretty tired by the end of the day. Thanks again!

    • Jessica,

      Hi….First, thank you so much for reading & commenting. ? Lucky kid..What do you mean he isn’t thrilled about going? I get the need to get away & you will have the best time.

      First, the airport thing is not a big deal at all. As soon as you get up to the screening where people take off their shoes, just tell the TSA person standing there that you wear a brace & can’t take them off to walk. Believe me, they hear this every day and understand. They will have you walk through and sit on a chair. A female worker will Put on gloves and do a swab test of your hands and the brace to make sure it’s not an explosive. She will quickly pat you down & send you on your way. Have your son walk-through right before you and tell him to grab your bag while this process happens. It takes just a few minutes .

      Second, universal Studios is amazing and even more so when you get to skip the lines because of your disability. You need to get a doctors letter that explains your condition before going. When you get to the park, you will go to the special services building (Google Universal Disability) for exact instructions. There, you will show them the doctors note, they will see your cane, and you can rent a wheelchair for the day. They will hand you a special skip the lines pass which will allow you and six other people you’re traveling with, also skip the lines.

      I hope this helps, please reach out if you have any other questions

      Please send me an email direct info@trend-able.com if I can try to answer other questions.

  6. Loving your blog! Found you by doing a random search looking for some tips for sandals and boom there you were. Only done thing is i dont see any men with blogs like this. I may need to start one!

    • Hi Russell,

      I love that you found me through a random search. Thanks for reaching out & following on Facebook. I did write a mens post on shoes awhile ago but there seems to be less interest in fashion from male afo wearers. I’ll try again! But obviously the general info applies to all. If you ever have any questions or need help finding something, please reach out.

  7. 💗 Akumal! I went in 2005 wayyyy before it got big. It was a dirt road with chickens running around haha. There was this really awesome natural place for snorkeling. We stayed in Playa Del Carmen, but the whole area is great!

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