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Vacation Ideas and Travel Tips for People With Disabilities
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Vacation Ideas and Travel Tips for People With Disabilities

Disabilities and physical limitations aren’t as limiting as some might expect. There are plenty of travel modifications that can be made, and many travel agencies and tourism-based companies are more than happy to make accommodations. Instead of thinking about what’s not possible, plan around the many activities and experiences that are possible. At the end of your trip, you’ll have memories that will last a lifetime.

Adapted and Wheelchair-Accessible Adventures

Using a wheelchair doesn’t mean you have to skip out on exciting adventures. There are a number of outdoor activities you can still partake in. Here are five to consider:

  1. Handcycling involves riding in an adapted vehicle that looks similar to a bicycle but is powered by your arms instead of your legs. There are all different types of handcycles, so you can find one for casual use or competition.
  2. Look for a wheelchair-accessible hiking trail. You’ll spend time in nature, reach gorgeous peaks with stunning views, and get an excellent workout while you’re at it.
  3. Paddleboards are highly buoyant — they’re made to sit on top of the water, not dip under it like a surfboard. This makes some of them wheelchair-accessible. Once you’re on, you can remain kneeling or stand up to paddle.
  4. Sailing requires mostly upper body strength, making it an excellent activity for those who use a wheelchair.
  5. There are a number of adapted skiing options to choose from based on the disability, such as mono-skiing and bi-skiing, both of which allow the individual to sit in a chair on top of skis.

The use of a wheelchair doesn’t automatically make every outdoor activity impractical. With a little extra planning and research, you can find exciting excursions that you’ll enjoy, whether you want to spend time on the slopes or in the water. There are travel agencies that work specifically with travelers who need modifications, and they’ll be able to give you recommendations or even plan an entire trip for you.

Travel Destinations for People With Disabilities

Some destinations are more accessible than others. Major cities often have wheelchair-friendly options, like accessible metro lines, ramps, attractions, and restaurants. Here are some great examples of travel destinations that provide excellent accommodations for people with disabilities: 

  • In Denver, the bus system is wheelchair-accessible, and people with disabilities get priority seating.
  • Attractions in Seattle, like the Space Needle, are wheelchair-accessible so no visitor has to miss out.
  • In Vegas, individuals can be given hearing devices for a better experience at live shows.
  • There are a number of accessible beaches, like Key Largo in Florida, which has ramps and wooden walkways that are helpful for people in wheelchairs or who have trouble walking.

For a day of fun, there are a number of exciting amusement parks that are accessible. Disney World has VIP ride passes, along with ramps and accessible transportation and resorts. Morgan’s Wonderland, which is located in San Antonio, is specifically designed with accessibility in mind. Their attractions were designed around sensory integration that improves each person’s sense of balance, space, and touch.

Tips for Traveling With a Disability

Every trip requires planning. If you’re traveling with an individual who is temporarily or permanently disabled, you’ll have to consider their requirements when preparing for your trip — but it’s still entirely possible to head off on vacation and thoroughly enjoy your time away. 

  • When booking your flight, let the airline know that you have special requirements. Request bulkhead seating, which will give you more room to get in and out of the seat.
  • Don’t assume that every hotel is wheelchair-accessible. Small hotels with a limited number of rooms don’t have to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Check that the transportation you’ll be relying on is accessible, based on your needs. You may need a rental car that can be driven by hand, a van that has a wheelchair lift, or a car that’s low to the ground so there’s not a big step to get in and out of it.
  • When booking tours or trips to tourism sites, research how accessible they are. You’ll want to know when you arrive if you should go to a different entrance, where elevators are located, etc.
  • If it’s difficult to find travel or hotel options with the accommodations you need, consider handling transportation on your own by traveling in an RV. You can be in control of your travel pace and comfort, and keep everything you could possibly need on hand.
  • If you’re traveling outside of your home country, you’ll want to make sure that your travel insurance covers medical expenses, such as emergency treatment or medical evacuation.
  • Take lots of pictures! Photography is a wonderful way to experience a new destination, and you’ll have fun printing and displaying your best shots once you get home. They’ll serve as a reminder of everything that’s possible.

Start planning earlier than you would for another type of vacation. It can take extra time to get details about accessibility, and you want to head off on your vacation knowing that everything can be enjoyed by each of your travelers. The extra work you put in ahead of time will pay off when your vacation runs smoothly.

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  1. Arnie Slater
    Arnie Slater
    I love the idea of traveling. My wife is a musician that has traveled internationally a lot. She uses a wheelchair. We want to visit Norway next as I have Norwegian roots. I Know Norway is very progressive and socially and environmentally aware. But, I wonder for my wife and I ( I have CP, she has MS) how accessible the fjords of Norway are?
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