How to Plan an Accessible Vacation

accessible-travel-handicapped-seniors

Handicapped seniors refer to mature individuals who have either cognitive, hearing, visual or mobility disabilities.  Each and every one of these individuals want to enjoy and live a regular, active life. They want to be  involved in as many activities as possible, to participate in what they may have participated in, before acquiring a disability.  That includes the activity of traveling.  Many handicapped seniors want to be able to vacation in near and faraway destinations.  Planning a vacation for a handicapped senior requires a little pre-planning and a work plan to ensure the vacation goes smoothly. The best surprise is no surprise at all.  Find out how to plan an accessible vacation by following these simple tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable vacation.

Work with a travel agent

The more complicated a vacation is, the better it is to work with an experienced, licensed travel agent/counselor.  They have the knowledge and information you need about your chosen destination.  A travel agent can call ahead to ensure that any special needs of the traveler with a disability can be attended to.  If something goes wrong, a travel agent is there to act as your advocate, to rectify a situation, should a problem arise.  Your travel agent will also be able to tell you whether your chosen destination is wheelchair accessible , or the tours you plan to take offer FM systems with neck loops or induction loops (for hearing disabilities).  By law, these are now available on tour buses in London, England and they will soon be found in New York city taxis.  For those with limited vision and in need of braille for reading, your travel agent will be able to help.

It can be cheaper  to book online, but a trusted, experienced travel agent can do all the work and research for you, inform you of document requirements, health warnings and is there if something goes wrong while you are away.

Choosing of a vacation destination

Choosing a vacation destination is not difficult and can be as easy as asking the question, “where do you want to go?”  However, the next step in choosing a destination for the handicapped senior is to determine if the environment of the vacation destination is accessible. Information about an area of interest can be attained from your travel agent, friends and family who have already visited the place before. Read online what other disabled travelers have said about their experiences of the place you wish to visit.

Keep in mind the season and weather conditions of a place when you want to visit.  Can you tolerate hot and humid weather conditions?  Will heavy rains make it difficult to get around?  Take note of any safety and security disadvantages of your chosen vacation destination. If traveling internationally, ask your travel agent what  documents – such as passports and visas are required.

Your travel budget

It goes without saying, all the expenses to be incurred during the vacation should be calculated prior to the traveling. These expenses include: travel, hotel, sightseeing, eating out, and other miscellaneous expenses. Don’t forget travel insurance.  If you can’t afford to get travel insurance, you really can’t afford to go away on vacation.  If a medical emergency arises, you need to be covered by insurance.  Health care costs overseas can be very expensive.  Should an unexpected event occur and you need to be flown home in a medical emergency, travel insurance will cover the expenses.  There is no worse thing than not being covered for medical emergencies while abroad and then returning home to face horrendous medical bills.

Notify Your Family

This should again be done prior to the vacation day to create awareness to family and friends of the person traveling. Leave them a contact number and/or address and the exact dates of your itinerary.  Leave a photocopy of your passport and other important documents with them just in case of an emergency.  Bring all their contact information.

Best vacations for handicapped seniors

The good news is that the travel industry has taken note of the thriving market of senior travelers and travelers with disabilities.  Handicapped seniors require effective travel means to reach their intended destinations and the destination itself must be accessible to all.   The American with Disabilities Act of 1990, or the ADA “is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability.”  (Wikipedia.org) The Act requires public buildings to be equipped with ramps, elevators and restrooms that accommodate people in wheelchairs in order to be accessible to all.

Cruise ships now offer cabins which are accessible, braille on elevators, visual-tactile alert systems, teletypewriters to connect to ships’ telephone systems, and allow service dogs for the visually impaired.   A company such as Special Needs at Sea offers electric scooters, wheelchairs, oxygen equipment to travelers with disabilities and not only for cruise trips.

Senior travel coach tours are another type of vacation a handicapped senior can enjoy. You must bring a traveling companion or assistant on a coach tour because the tour guide cannot offer assistance.  Coach touring companies offer services to disabled travelers such as assistance getting on and off a coach and booking scooters, wheelchairs or other aids onto the coach.

More and more travel destinations are becoming accessible.  Did you always dream of visiting the Parthenon in Greece? If you now find yourself with mobility issues and don’t know how you’ll be able to climb the 80 or so steps to reach the top, there’s good news.  You’ll be happy to know there is an elevator to take those with mobility disabilities to the summit of the great Parthenon at the Acropolis.  Did you dream of going to Venice, Italy?  Even Venice is now accessible to all.  Cruise ships, resorts in the Caribbean – more and more choice is now available for the traveler with a disability as the world becomes more and more accessible to all.  Now you know how to plan an accessible vacation.  If you have any other tips for our fellow readers, you are more than welcome to leave a comment.