Supporting Travelers with Special Needs
Let's face it. No two travelers are alike. Everyone has his or her own unique needs. Technology and the Internet can help you arrange everything from wheelchairs to special meals for your distinctive travel needs.
Online Resources from the Access-Able Travel Source
If you or someone you are traveling with is physically challenged or has special needs, it is always good to check out the places you will visit for accessibility and special accommodations. One of the best Internet resources is the Access-Able Travel Source (www.access-able.com), shown in Figure 8.6.
Figure 8.6 The Access-Able Travel Source website has detailed access information and travel resources for those with special needs.
This website was created by Bill Randall and his wife Carol, who has multiple sclerosis. They have done a great job of developing detailed access information for locations around the world. They offer many details about accommodations, attractions, equipment rental, and transportation. They also have honest assessments of cruise lines and airports. This website also contains two valuable lists. It has an extensive list of travel agents and tour operators who are experienced in trip planning for travelers with disabilities. It also links to more than 400 other websites in this area of expertise.
Online Resources from Frommer's
The Frommer's website also has valuable information for disabled travelers. Surf to www.frommers.com, click the Trip Ideas tab, and choose the Disabled menu item. Or you can access this Web area directly at www.frommers.com/trip_ideas/disabled.
As shown in Figure 8.7, at this site you find a link to a very useful and comprehensive article titled "Disabled Travelers: A Compendium of Trip Planning Resources." It lists agencies and operators who specialize in accessibility during travel. It also lists organizations that can help with your travel planning and execution.
Figure 8.7 The Frommer's Disabled area has much comprehensive information in the article titled "Disabled Travelers: A Compendium of Trip Planning Resources."
Learning from others who are in the same position is always beneficial. The Frommer's discussion board for disabled travelers at http://www.frommers.com/cgi-bin/WebX?14@@.eead217 is a place where you can read about and learn from the experiences of others. You will find excellent information on these message boards. They discuss everything from tips on traveling with oxygen to traveling on dialysis to using an electric wheelchair in Europe.
Online Resources from the Seniors Travel Guide
Although many of today's hotels and resorts have accommodations for those with disabilities, it can be beneficial for the disabled traveler to check out those that cater to this clientele. The Seniors Travel Guide at http://seniorstravelguide.com, which is part of the Wired Seniors network, has a listing of accommodations and lodgings called disabilities resorts, as shown in Figure 8.8.
Figure 8.8 The Seniors Travel Guide lists disabilities resorts.
Online Resources from Emerging Horizons' Accessible Travel
For more information on accessible travel, you may want to subscribe to the Emerging Horizons Accessible Travel magazine. It is geared toward people with mobility disabilities and includes everyone from slow walkers to wheelchair users. The Emerging Horizons website at http://emerginghorizons.com contains worthwhile sample articles and columns.
Other Online Resources for Travelers with Disabilities
You may also want to visit several other websites that specialize in assistive technology products and information on accessible travel. The ABLEDATA website provides information about assistive technology products for travelers in a special section at www.abledata.com. The link to this information is shown in Figure 8.9.
Figure 8.9 The ABLEDATA website has information and resources for travelers with disabilities.
Some websites focus on just about every disability you can think of. Many of these sites have information on traveling with the many different types of disabilities. For instance, the Accessible Journeys website at www.disabilitytravel.com, shown in Figure 8.10, focuses on wheelchair travel. It has travel planning information and lists accessible group tours and cruises, special travel resources, and licensed travel companions.
Figure 8.10 Wheelchair travel is the focus at the Accessible Journeys website.
The Trips Inc., Special Adventures website at www.tripsinc.com focuses on vacations for special travelers with developmental disabilities.
When dealing with disabilities, you can also use travel agents who specialize in making travel plans for people with physical disabilities. One such travel agency is Flying Wheels, which you can find at www.flyingwheelstravel.com.
Don't forget that you can often find information on traveling with disabilities by looking through the information for your destination. For instance, the All Go Here website at www.allgohere.com has an extensive directory of UK hotels and hospitality-related services that are disability-friendly. It also features an airline accessibility guide.
The Rotterdam accessibility guide at www.accessible.rotterdam.nl gives information on accessibility for all public buildings in Rotterdam.
Also be aware that websites that have information on disabilities can also lead to travel information. For instance, the Mobility International USA organization at www.miusa.org is a group that advocates international exchange and international development for people with disabilities. As shown in Figure 8.11, from this website you can search for other disability organizations and exchange programs, view new items, and see other information.
Figure 8.11 Mobility International USA is a great place to find out about exchange programs for people with disabilities.
As you know, air travel has changed dramatically since 9/11. Rules for travel can change at a moment's notice, so it is advisable for travelers with disabilities to check the current rules and regulations before they reach the airport. The Transportation Security Administration website has an area at www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm that has detailed information on screening procedures. You will also want to read its advice on how to declare and pack medications.