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Traveling With a Disability

You’ve been planning your trip for months. The research on hotels and places of interest is done, your itinerary is in place, and the excitement over your upcoming travels is building. And if you or someone in your family happens to have a disability, it shouldn’t change a thing. As long as you’ve adequately prepared for your trip, traveling with a disability is no longer an impediment to enjoying the world around you.

The key, as mentioned, is properly planning for your travels. There are many resources to aid in your preparation, from ADA requirements to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACCA) that reveals passenger rights when flying. Most people with disabilities recommend that you start planning your trip about 12 months in advance to ensure that you have all of your bases covered. And once you’ve done the planning, you can relax and start anticipating your upcoming travels.

Preparing for Travel: Planning is Key

Why the need for planning? You’ll hear many stories about accessibility challenges with the cities you’re planning on visiting, and by planning and doing some research, you’ll find that there are many ways around those challenges. By planning ahead, you’ll find fully accessible hotel accommodations and accessible routes to take between attractions you want to visit and so much more.

Finding ADA compliant hotels is the easier part of planning. You’ll find that many European hotels have limited ADA accommodations, so planning far in advance is critically important. Try to book your hotel in the most accessible parts of the city you’re visiting. Make sure the neighborhood that your hotel is in a location that is easy to navigate with accessible restaurants and attractions nearby.

In terms of planning, always have a backup plan in your pocket. The reason: if something can go wrong, it usually does. So, you’ll want to prepare for just about any contingency that may arise. For example, if your wheelchair breaks down, where is the nearest repair facility? Likewise, having a current list of wheelchair rental firms is essential in case your wheelchair is unusable.

Tips for More Enjoyable Travels

Taking the lead from others who travel extensively despite disabilities can provide you with some tips that can make for more enjoyable travel. Fortunately, they’re more than happy to share their tips with others.

For example, if you’re planning on using a travel agent, make sure that they have experience in planning travel for those with disabilities. Experienced agents usually have firsthand knowledge of accessibility issues in various cities that can prove to be extremely helpful. The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality is an excellent resource for finding agents and companies that specialize in helping those with disabilities.

When planning your itinerary, be sure that you include information about renting a handicapped van in the cities you’ll be visiting. Many foreign cities have limited wheelchair-accessible taxis or buses, so keep that in mind to avoid being stuck at an airport without accessible transportation.

Most importantly, be flexible. Everyone has unique needs, and sometimes you may need to compromise to visit the venues you plan to visit. For example, if you use a power wheelchair, consider renting a lightweight one if an attraction can’t accommodate your power chair.

By following these tips and suggestions, you’ll have more enjoyable travels. Bon Voyage!