People with a disability can, and do, travel all over the world. While there may be some places that, due to the terrain or location, aren’t accessible for all disabilities, with planning and preparation people with disabilities can go virtually anywhere they want! Like Thrive Advocate, Craig Kennedy, who went live from Dubai in our Thrive Community!
The travel industry is becoming increasingly aware of the needs of travelers with disabilities, as a matter of fact the International Airline Transportation Association stated in their 75th General Assembly that they will be focusing on, and have others focus on, accessibility for people with disabilities. This results in more services, greater accommodations, and opens up more and more possibilities for traveling with a disability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act in the United States requires that travelers with disabilities receive equal treatment under the law. Different countries have different laws regarding disabilities, however, so it’s important to do research about available accommodations before traveling to another country.
What is Accessible Tourism?
Accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavor to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. (Source: https://www.disabled-world.com/travel/)
Accessible tourism enables people with access requirements, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities to function independently and with equity and dignity. It is inclusive of all people, including those traveling with children, people with disabilities, and seniors.
Things to Consider While Booking Your Trip
Each person’s needs are unique, and airline seats, hotel rooms, and rental cars aren’t always compatible for every need, so here are some important things to consider before heading off to a new destination!
Specialized Travel Agent
There are niche travel agencies that work with people of varying types of disabilities. TravelSense.org is one example.
Do Some Research
Do some initial research about your destination’s accessibility, available accommodations, and any other information that pertains to your particular needs. Even when information is available online it’s a good idea to call ahead before you book, as advanced notice is sometimes required to make needed accommodations and you want to be sure your desired travel dates are available.
No Detail is Too Small
Be as specific as possible when describing your needs to a hotel, rental agency, touring provider, or other travel services provider. Not all people understand terms typically used in the disabled community (and may be hesitant to say they don’t understand), so it’s important to be as clear and specific as possible. Whenever possible, get the agreed-upon services in writing from the provider.
Connecting Flights or Changeovers
When traveling with a wheelchair flying direct can save you a lot of time and hassle. One exception to this, however, is if you have trouble maneuvering into airplane lavatories, as long flights may become uncomfortable. In this case, a series of shorter flights may be a better option. If you do choose to connect, be sure to allow plenty of time between flights (at least 90 minutes is recommended) to get from one gate to the next without feeling too stressed and/or rushed. Even without a connection, it’s a good idea to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart.
Book All Transportation Needs in Advance
Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to book all transportation needs – to/from the airport, tour bus arrangements, rental cars, and public transportation – in advance, or at least have as much information as you can about accessibility for getting around once you arrive at your destination.
It’s important to know the nearest physician/hospital around your destination. Your doctor, health care provider, and/or insurance company can provide the names and contact numbers of physicians at your destination. For more information, see Health Care Abroad.
Consider Travel Insurance
In the event you are unable to go on your trip – for medical reasons or otherwise – travel insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to ensure you don’t lose the cost of the entire trip.
Know Your Rights
Things To Bring on Vacation
Spare Parts and Tools
Be sure to bring along any spare parts or tools you may need for potential equipment repairs, especially when traveling to a more remote destination. You may be required to dismantle a wheelchair for certain flights or activities; make sure you and your traveling companions know how to do this and have what you need.
Medical Alert Information
It’s a good idea to carry all medical and medical alert information with you – ideally on your person – at all times while you’re away. Make sure it’s someplace easily accessible or visible to any emergency medical care providers, and that your travel companion(s) know where it is, too! Take photocopies of any important medical documentation with you and leave the originals at home. Include emergency contact information as well, even for people traveling with you as they may not be with you if it’s needed.
Travel with a statement from your doctor, preferably on their letterhead, that describes your condition, medications, potential complications, special needs, and other pertinent information. Be sure your doctor’s phone number is included in this information, including an emergency number where your doctor (or a facility) can be reached at any hour during the day.
If you use an electric wheelchair, look into whether you’ll need a plug adapter and/or a voltage converter. You can also investigate the possibility of renting a battery charger.
Bring plenty of extra medications, and talk to your prescriber well in advance of your trip to ensure these extra medications are available (either at your destination or by your prescriber). Make sure that all medicines you are taking are allowed in the country you’re visiting, and follow any travel rules for transporting medications so they aren’t confiscated.
Travel Resources for People with Disabilities
There are a lot of resources that can help you plan and enjoy your trip! Here are some you may find useful:
- Accessible Journeys: Tour operator for slow walkers, travelers with wheelchairs and their companions
- Accessible Travel Solutions: Company providing accessible tours and other services for travelers with disabilities
- Major Airline Travel Tips for Travelers with Disabilities
- Tips to Make Traveling with a Disability Easier
- Wheelchair Travel Tips
- Wheel the World: Listings of accessible accommodations and travel experiences for travelers with disabilities
- The Thrive Community by Enemeez®: Craig Kennedy, and other Thrive Advocates discuss traveling with ease, and are available for questions you may have
Join the Thrive Community!
The Thrive Community Facebook Group is a private space for any person with a disability, as well as caregivers and healthcare providers that touch their lives. Our purpose is to provide a safe, educational space for group members to ask every question, connect with their peers, and empower each other through communication and connection. Our conversations are led by incredible individuals who themselves are living and thriving.
For more enlightening resources, information, and discussion join the Enemeez® Thrive Community today