Published: Aug 26, 2010 (Revised: May 29, 2011)
Abstract: Accessible travel needs vary but here is a general guide that a traveller with disability may use when planning a holiday.
Accessible travel needs may vary from person to person but here is a general guide that a traveller with disability may use when planning a holiday.
Identify and list your needs
Identify and list your needs under three categories: transportation, accommodation and leisure. Under transportation, list down specific airport or on-board assistance/facilities needed as well as equipment you may carry along when travelling. For your accommodation, list down your mobility needs for entering and leaving your room, use of bathroom and entering and leaving the premises. If you are wheelchair-bound, list your needs from door width to bed height and include a roll-in shower if applicable. Your accommodation and leisure providers should be able to provide similar solutions for your needs and preferably be in close proximity to a medical facility in case of emergencies.
Finding accessibility companies that match your needs
Finding information on accessible holiday providers in foreign cities is now much easier because of the continuous information growth on the Internet. Hotels and transportation companies usually have their profiles listed in online versions of directories such as the yellow pages which provide addresses, phone numbers, maps, and driving directions. A tremendous amount of information can be gathered from a company’s website and even more so from online booking services which provide a multitude of lodging options including accessible accommodation. Another good resource for finding accessible travel solutions is by getting in touch with local organizations that support the disabled community. They may not know exactly what each company provides but they probably know which companies have disability-adapted services.
Run your list of providers by your criteria of needs
Most accessible travel providers may be accessibility-law compliant but they may not always meet the needs specific to your disability. Find out whether your choice meets not just one or two of your needs but all of the things that would make your holiday as comfortable as possible. It is always best to do extra research on each facility by emailing your questions, requesting documents such as photos and floor plans or calling to clarify the details on advertised accessible amenities.
Book and block your room
Most reservations are almost always just a general commitment of accommodating guests within the property advertised on a specified date and rate. They do not designate rooms to your reservation prior to your arrival unless explicitly arranged. This is true for most industries whether your reservation is for dining, transport or lodging. Blocking your room is therefore just as crucial as successfully placing your reservation. You can use sites like HotelsCombined.com to find the best accessible accommodation rates and book directly from their suppliers. It would be a good idea to contact the hotels directly to confirm that the room will meet your needs. Make sure that the room is not only reserved for you for the date you specify but that a particular room meeting your needs is blocked for you. If any of your accommodation or travel provider options cannot assure a blocked reservation for you, move on to your next choice.
Check your list twice
Every other person does not have the same needs as you and certainly not every other holiday provider is looking to meet your specific needs. Make sure you call and confirm your reservation several days before your arrival because last minute alternatives may not be able to provide you with a similar combination of service and facilities. It is, therefore, important to make a habit of checking the status and details of each booking you make before leaving for your destination.
It is best to plan your trip in advance. Gather as much information as possible by communicating and working with the right people so your general expectations will be met. Whether your are mobility challenged, visually impaired or just slower than you used to be, your holiday can be just as comfortable, memorable and successful with careful planning.