Traveling the world should be an adventure open to everyone, regardless of mobility or disability. However, travelers with limited mobility or who use a wheelchair can often face an array of challenges when planning their dream trip. But the good news is that the travel industry does seem to be finally waking up to the needs of travelers with specific mobility issues. An increasing number now offer improved services and accommodation. But there’s still room for improvement and the onus is very much on the traveler to ensure that all bases are covered.
Research and plan well in advance
Unfortunately, you will soon discover on your travels that there are still many places around the world that offer some significant accessibility challenges. But, the more research and planning you do in advance, the more accessible your trip will be. Research the area you are interested in visiting and you’ll have a much easier time on your trip. Find out if the attractions you’d like to explore are accessible. Can you hire an adapted car and are taxis readily available?
Research the accessibility of subway stations, bus routes, sidewalks and the location of accessible building entrances. There will probably be a number of different ways to get to the different tourist attractions you’d like to see. Some routes will have smooth, flat paths and wheelchair ramps. However, there will likely be some that have steep hills, annoying and potentially dangerous cobblestones and stairs. But your trip doesn’t need to be a struggle at all. The key is to do your homework well. Then you will be able to enjoy fully accessible hotel accommodations, accessible tourist attractions and sightseeing opportunities, and an all-around accessible travel experience.
Discuss your needs with the airline
When you book your tickets, make sure you are very clear about your specific requirements. If you use a wheelchair, then have your measurements and weight ready to pass on to the airline. Check that the aircraft can adequately meet all your requirements such as providing you with special seating, and accessible toilets if required. You should also book well in advance any additional support you might need at the airport. If you arrange to have specific support, then make sure you get confirmation in writing which you can print out and take with you.
Pack spare parts and tools for your wheelchair
It’s a sad fact that wheelchairs have to endure a lot when traveling. Therefore, packing a small kit of tools and spare parts in case you need to make emergency repairs, is essential. Check in advance about whether you will be expected to dismantle your wheelchair before taking certain flights. You should also make sure well in advance that you and your companions know how to dismantle and then reassemble your chair quickly.
You’ve done all the planning you can. You’ve read all the reviews, listened to all the advice from other travelers with disabilities and feel prepared for the unexpected. Now, all you have to do is look forward to a wonderful holiday. Bon voyage.
This post is submitted by Lucy Humphreys, a specialist in traveling with limited mobility.