Helpful Resources for Planning Travel with Disabilities
Boy in wheelchair goes Trick or Treating on Halloween

In recent years, several disability resources have addressed the special needs of physically challenged and handicapped travelers. While waiting for the travel industry to assist these travelers, there are some useful websites that the disabled can use to help themselves. These disability resources help you plan trips that include every member of the family.

Online Resources for the Physically Handicapped

Families with disabled members will find the Society for the Advancement of Travel for The Handicapped (SATH) site very useful, particularly the travel features from Open World, a magazine of destination ideas and medical tips for disabled and mature travelers.

“Cruising is the No. 1 choice for travelers with disabilities,” according to Laurel Van Horn, Editor-in-Chief of Open World.  “It’s such an easy thing — you only have to unpack once and everything is accessible when you’re aboard. More ships are adding boarding ramps for wheelchair users so they can join shore excursions.”

There are several other well-crafted websites on the topic of handicapped/disability travel, but one of the pioneers is the Access Able Travel Source which offers tours, resources and travel tales for the hearing- or sight-impaired and the physically handicapped, plus a newsletter and links to relevant sites.

Other valuable online resources include Gimp on the Go and Emerging Horizons, homespun yet comprehensive websites managed by handicapped travelers, with their own publications.

Persons with disabilities have special needs for equipment and other merchandise, making this online guide to businesses that offer discounts to those with disabilities. An older guide that still have helpful information is this compendium of 101 Special Needs Websites.

Airlines, Tour Operators & Travel Agents Cater to Special Needs

With the increasing retirement rate among the Baby Boomer Generation, travel into the senior years has become big business, with many companies geared to meet the special needs of elderly, infirm, mobility-impaired and otherwise handicapped travelers.

The flight booking engine, CheapFlights.com, has published an excellent Guide to Airline Policies for Travelers with Disabilities that will certainly make it easier to choose the most accommodating way to get to your destination.

For cultural and adventure tours open to both the disabled and to children, explore the Specialty Travel Index magazine which has covered a myriad of trips around the world for more than 30 years.

For a travel specialist who is knowledgeable about the accessibility features of resorts, cruise ships, and organized tours consult the ASTA site; visitors may search their database of members by specialty and by zip code.

Most major Visitor & Convention Bureaus publish special guides for the mobility, hearing or visually impaired: Toronto With Ease and the Virginia Travel Guide for Persons with Disabilities are two excellent ones. 

Most important, just get out there; the travel industry is ready to accommodate!  And please share other helpful resources in the Comments section below.

Photo of Boy in wheelchair with Halloween costume courtesy of Neatorama.

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