Each year, thousands of persons with disabilities travel the world by planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships, and even bicycles. With the proper planning and attitude, travel can be rewarding and adventurous.
Each person with a disability has his/her special needs. Individual countries have their own standards of accessibility for disabled travellers. Some countries have non-discrimination laws that help to protect travellers with disabilities, while other countries have no such laws. Preparing before you go can often prevent difficulties and ensure that your planned destination will be accessible, safe and enjoyable.
BEFORE YOU GO
Before you travel, research your planned stops and ask detailed questions about the disability services that are provided. Also, be prepared for a certain amount of culture shock. Some cultures are not very accepting or open about their citizens with disabilities.
Once you have decided on a destination, you may also consider local transportation needs to and from the airport, luggage assistance and whether assistance will be needed to leave the airport terminal. Some suggestions for finding resources are: contact the airport management office; work with a travel agent, having disability specialists in the staff; search the internet, call local disability organizations; or check with various travel guides.
There's no reason to stay home when that wonderful world of travel is waiting out there for you! The web is filled with special resources for travellers with disabilities. Below one can find two great travel agencies with a specialization in serving travellers with disabilities:
A specialized full service travel agency offering escorted by disability specialists and unaccompanied tours and cruises. Escorted tours outside the United States mainly to Europe and the Middle East. Worldwide cruises on both an individual and escorted basis. Customized itineraries for disabled travellers with disability specialists worldwide. The agency can arrange air transportation, fully equipped hotels, cruise ship cabins, vans, oxygen, chair transportation, medical needs, and other services for physically challenged clients and their able bodied companions.
Travel with disability specialists! Accessible Journeys will design accessible holidays and escorts groups on accessible vacations exclusively for slow walkers, wheelchair travellers, their families and their friends. Personally escorted tours reflect a particular fondness for continued learning, naturalism, and cultural intrigue. Long-time experience and commitment to specialty travel allows this company to design travel programs that harmonize unique needs and individual capabilities with recreational travel.
OVERALL TRAVEL TIPS for disabled travellers:
Make reservations and confirm them whenever possible.
It's helpful to have a copy of the exact address of where you are going.
Keep necessities with you at all times.
Notify others about your needs.
TIPS FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED:
Read about your destination before your trip so you know what to expect and what sights you'll want to visit.
Call airports and airlines ahead of time to find out about services, including seating arrangements, special meals and shuttle services.
Carry written directions with you.
Carry your money, keys, tickets and bus pass in a pocket.
Know the bus schedule.
Inform the bus driver where you want to get off so he or she knows to call it out.
Sit near the front of the bus.
Carry your cane.
Plan for guide-dog restrictions.
ACCESSIBLE HOTEL TIPS:
When finding an accessible hotel, always talk directly to the property manager. Central reservation services for hotel chains have limited information in their systems. Ask to talk to someone who has actually been in the rooms.
Shore excursions still present challenges for wheelchair users because most of the tours are not wheelchair accessible.
Be aware that passengers are transported to and from the shore in small boats.
Be prepared to be carried on and off a boat, if you are a wheelchair user.
The most popular and easiest solution to shore excursions for wheelchair users is to hire a taxi.
Your journey can be the most rewarding experience. There is a wealth of literature available both on the Internet and in books with information and advice for disabled travelers. Take the time to search the web and your local bookstore. By taking the time to research and educate yourself about travel opportunities and considerations for persons with disabilities, you can enjoy your adventure and have memories to last a lifetime.