6 Simple Tips for Smooth Travel with a Disability
Traveling with a visible or invisible disability doesn’t have to be difficult. A few simple tips can go a long way. Times have changed for travelers who use wheelchairs, are visually or hearing-impaired or have another disability. No place is off limits, and hotels, museums and cultural institutions offer more accessibility than ever before. Remember when flying to ask your doctor questions about the TSA Security area. There may be a need for you to get a “pat down” as opposed to exposing yourself to the many machines you may have to go through. Some may even cause damage. Here are other tips to travel smoothly with a disability:
Work with a Travel Agent: Very Important…An agent who specializes in working with disabled travelers can arrange every aspect of your trip including booking your airline tickets, tours, event and theater tickets and restaurants. They can make sure to get the measurements you need, verify the hotels, resorts, or restaurants you’re interested in are accessible, and provide other services to make sure you have a smooth trip and a comfortable stay.
Usually agents don’t charge trip planning fees, and instead make money by booking you with hotels and resorts that are hungry for your business (and ideally, accessible). To find these specialists, consider agencies that have experts on-staff that specialize in accessible travel. TravelKatz is equipped to help you make those vacation/travel plans. If you decide to go it on your own…be sure to –
Ask Your Airline for Help: Asking your airline for assistance, either at the time of booking or a few days before your trip, will make your time at the airport much easier. Many airlines will designate an employee to meet you curbside when you arrive or at check-in with a wheelchair (if you need one) and guide you through security. You can also request assistance when you land at your destination. Remember to tip.
There is usually no charge for this service, but policies vary by airline and may depend on available staff and your disability, so be sure to clarify with your carrier before you fly. Also, many carriers allow guide dogs on board free of charge for passengers who are visually-impaired (if you make a reservation for your guide dog at least 48 hours in advance of your flight).
Plan with Your Hotel in Advance: Most hotels in all price ranges welcome travelers with disabilities. However, it’s key to give them a heads-up about what your needs are if there’s anything specific. If you’re in a wheelchair, for example, get measurements for the front, guest and bathroom doors in advance of your stay. Most hotel concierges will be happy to provide you this information, any many list it online. Some wheelchairs are too large for many properties, even if they claim to have accessible rooms and facilities. Also, if you’re visually impaired and find buffet breakfasts or continental breakfast bars challenging, ask your hotel’s concierge to fill your in-room fridge with breakfast items, or deliver them to your room instead.
Book the Right Guides: There are guides all over the world who have experience in working with travelers with disabilities. These guides can make your time in the destination hassle-free because they know the sights you can and can’t access, the restaurants where you’ll have an enjoyable experience and more.
Some guides can even arrange for wheelchairs, scooters and canes or know sign language to communicate with those are hearing-impaired. Others simply remember to take visible and invisible disabilities into account when planning activities or organizing groups, so you’re not stuck joining a tour group where you can’t participate in half of the activities. You can find guides through some of the previously mentioned – your travel agent, or your hotel’s concierge if you don’t use a travel agent.
Consider a Tour: Several of our travel operators offer both private and group trips for those with disabilities. These preset itineraries consider exactly what your needs are, so you don’t have to arrange anything yourself.
TravelKatz has several itineraries a year to destinations such as the Holy Land, Peru, Japan and Portugal. Our company also sells cruises. Other options include African wildlife excursions for travelers with disabilities. And if you are part of a group, that is even better.
Visit Accommodating Museums: Many museums around the globe take care to accommodate visitors with disabilities in several different ways. The Guggenheim, in New York, for example, has monthly tours for the visually impaired. These tours are free but must be reserved. Find out what services a museum offers by calling its visitor information line or visiting its website before you plan your visit.