Having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t travel. In fact, with the travel industry making great strides to tackle barriers for disabled travel in recent years, there have never been more options than there are today. So in reality, the question for disabled people is slowly shifting from ‘where can I go?’, to ‘where do I want to go?’
"article by Helen Campbell" for Ability Chicago Info | Dec 16, 2016
In this article, we’ll showcase some of the options available and also offer some advice on how to manage some practical issues.
Before You Travel
How you manage your disability on a day to day basis won’t apply when you’re traveling, so it’s important that you make provisions for how you’ll handle life on the road. Transport, medication, mobility, and what you’ll do if something goes wrong are all things you need to think about.
Thankfully, many travel related industries have procedures in place for accommodating disabled people, especially in the United States, so make sure you speak to them before you travel. Airlines and hotels will help you in a number of ways, from making sure you get on and off the flight safely, have disabled facilities in your room, and can even help with transportation to and from the airport.
If you require medication, it’s advisable that you take more than you think you’ll need. You never know when things will go wrong, and if plans change or a bag with your medication goes missing, you’ll be thankful you brought along extra. If you’re bring large quantities, take a note from your doctor to show the screening agent at the airport.
Where to Go?
Now to the fun part! Where do you want to go on your travels? It’s a big world out there, but for this article we’re going to focus on ideas and destinations that are within easy reach of Chicago.
The outdoors has always been perceived as cut off for disabled people, but that’s just not true anymore. Thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service, it’s never been easier to discover the grand beauty of the United States.
Yosemite National Park
California’s gem of a National Park might just be the country’s best. Trees, waterfalls, imposing granite mountains are what await its visitors - including those with mobility issues. A lot of the scenic overlooks are wheelchair accessible, as are many of tour buses. In Yosemite, there are only a few features that are not accessible - making it an excellent place to explore!
Yellowstone National Park
The original - and still the best, some say - National Park is widely disabled friendly, with the majority of the park’s greatest highlights accessed via short scenic overlooks. The famous geysers, including Old Faithful, can also be easily accessed by the disabled.
Of all the destinations, it is Disney World that have taken the most steps forward when it comes to disabled access. While not every attraction is wheelchair accessible, many are, and they also helpfully list what level of mobility is required for each ride.
The number of attractions that can be accessed while remaining in a wheelchair is large, more than enough to cover a weekend of fun, making it an excellent family destination. There’s also a system that allows guests with disabilities to avoid long lines and return later at a specific time.
Sand is typically the enemy of wheelchairs, but that won't stop you from enjoying a day out at the following beaches. The famous beaches of California, such Malibu and Santa Monica, are usually really well accessed by wheelchairs, as are the picturesque boardwalks that line Virginia’s beaches. Key Largo, in Florida, goes one step further. Not only is the beach accessible, but several local companies even provide opportunities for the disabled to go diving in the warm and clear water...or you can just stay on the beach and relax as the world goes by. Either way, these are two great opportunities to have at a place - the beach - that has historically been cut off from people with mobility issues.
It hasn’t always been easy for disabled people to travel. However, with a focused effort from airlines, hotels, and attractions underway, it’s becoming a little less difficult. With progress being made all the time, it’s only a matter of time until more and more sights become open for everybody.
Ty to Helen Campbell for article!