Accessible Travel: The sky's the limit

01 May 2018

Travelling the world when you’re living with a disability is thankfully becoming more commonplace thanks to growing awareness of the accessible travel sector.

Cast your memory back to your last overseas trip and think about the activities and experiences that featured on the itinerary. Now think about what it would be like to do the same trip on crutches, in a wheelchair or while deaf? This is the reality for many people with disabilities who want to see the world but in the past have been held back by accessibility issues.

While many of us are guilty of taking our health and mobility for granted, more and more people with disabilities are traversing the world. Travel Counsellors has some seriously impressive clients who haven’t let their disability stop them from travelling. From enjoying an African safari honeymoon in a wheelchair to traversing India while deaf, our clients are taking to the skies to fulfil their travel dreams.

Here are some considerations when travelling with a disability:

CHOOSE YOUR DESTINATION WISELY

Whether you use a wheelchair, are sight impaired or struggle with arthritis, some destinations are better choices than others. The uneven, cobblestone streets of Europe’s old towns may be beautiful but they also present a hazard for many disabled travellers and many developing nations lack the infrastructure and awareness needed to cater for travellers with disabilities.

When first starting out travelling, choosing a destination closer to home for a short break is wiser than trying a month-long, multi-country journey on another continent. Dealing with long flights or bus rides can be challenging, so once you’ve mastered a shorter flight or break, then you’ll feel more comfortable committing to a longer trip further afield.

COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS

Communication is key so book with a professional agent who will notify all hotels, airlines, transfer providers and airports of your needs. From arranging an aisle seat to pre-booking a wheelchair at the airport and ensuring your transfer service is wheelchair friendly, a professional travel agent will be able to make your trip run smoothly much more so than booking online via a website.

CHOOSE TO CRUISE

Generally, cruising takes less of a toll on your body than other forms of travel. With porters and staff to take care of your luggage (which stays in your cabin for your entire trip) cruisers are free to avoid packing, unpacking and lugging their suitcases around every few days. On a cruise, the new port or city comes to you!

Modern ship design tends to include superior accessibility features such as elevators and rooms suitable for passengers with disabilities. Furthermore, most cruise ships have onboard nurses and doctors so anyone travelling with a chronic illness or other health concerns is rest assured they can receive care while they are away.

Cruising also allows you to choose your travel style and pace, something that is helpful to anyone who tires easily or is dealing with chronic pain. Feeling a little tired? Skip the shore excursion and rest up on deck instead. Struggling to get to a restaurant in the city? Simply hit the ship’s restaurant for a meal instead.

BOOK WELL IN ADVANCE

Last minute trips can be tricky to pull off when you’re travelling with a disability. Many hotels have limited wheelchair-friendly rooms, so the earlier you book the greater the chance of nabbing an accessible room. Same goes for restaurant bookings, concert tickets and transfer services.

SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR

Before booking a trip, speak to your doctor who will be able to make expert recommendations based on your unique situation. Your doctor will also be able to advise you of ways to make your trip more comfortable. For example, if you’re prone to blood clots, you may be advised to wear compression stockings while flying. Regardless of your disability or condition, your doctor should be your first port of call before booking your trip. With your doctor’s blessing, the world really is your oyster!

Have special needs and want to travel? Speak to a Travel Counsellor to find out how to make your travel dreams a reality.

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