Vacations are enjoyed by millions of people all over the world but some people with disabilities can find planning a vacation a bit daunting because of disability issues. Some may even think it’s impossible. I say, with proper planning, you can have a great vacation to remember. Here is a list of the top five most accessible places to visit in the world.
1. Berlin, Germany
It was awarded the “Access City of the Year” in December 2012 by the European Commission due to its aggressive and forward-thinking plan of creating a fully accessible public transportation system. Its plan also includes broadening sidewalks and using tactile guidance systems at road crossings. By the year 2020, the government plans on Berlin being 100% accessible. A large majority of museums in Berlin are already accessible as are most of the more well-known hotel chains but be sure to ask when making reservations what accessible features are currently available. You can search for places to visit at Visit Berlin for People with Disabilities.
|Vancouver, British Columbia|
2. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
One of the most diverse cities in the world, Vancouver offers visitors a wide variety of cultural foods and experiences. With its great public transportation system – buses are equipped with wheelchair ramps and the Sky Train and SeaBus are also accessible – visitors have a variety of choices when deciding how to get to where they’re going. Vancouver International Airport is one of the world’s most accessible airports. Some barrier-free features include amplified handsets at service counters, low-mounted information monitors, services for the deaf and accessible washrooms. Travelers can rent vehicles with hand-controls or use the Airporter shuttle bus service to get to their hotels. For more information on where to go and what to do, go to Accessible Vancouver.
|San Diego, California, United States|
3. San Diego, California
When you think “California” you should also think “beach”! With its mild climate you can enjoy 70 miles of beach when visiting this city year-round. At at least fifteen San Diego beaches, beach wheelchairs are available for people with disabilities at no charge. Some even offer motorized chairs. To find a list of beaches with phone numbers check out CaliforniaCoastal Commission. You can also take accessible sightseeing tours via bus, boat or old-fashioned trolley. Go to SanDiego.org to plan your trip.
Yes, the whole country. While all Scandinavian countries are very disability-friendly, Denmark stands out because of its “Accessibility For All” program. This is a tourism labeling system for hotels, attractions, restaurants and other places you might want to visit while there. You can search for places and other things accessible using http://www.godadgang.dk/ and narrowing it down by city, type of place, disability and more. You can also find more tourism information at VisitDenmark.com.
5. London, England
England might call to mind old tradition but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t modernized its accommodations for people with disabilities. The subway system, called the Tube, has some stops that are not wheelchair accessible so if you’re planning on traveling that way be sure to research ahead of time to find the stops that are accessible. However, the large majority of their buses are accessible and their taxis are required by law to be accessible. You can find accessibility information at Transport For London. Many of London’s most popular sight-seeing stops are free or offer a discount for people with disabilities. There are some places that even allow one care giver in at no charge.
Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas – A recreational park that provides a beautiful environment free of economic barriers that all individuals, regardless of disability can enjoy. It boasts many attractions such as a sensory village, picnic area, playground and sandpit and a carousel that is accessible to all including wheelchair users. Tickets can be purchased online and are very reasonably priced. Individuals with disabilities and children under 2 get in for free. Visit their site at Morgan’s Wonderland.
So now that you have some ideas of where to go, let’s go over a few tips on how to travel with a disability:
1. Plan ahead! Give yourself as much time as possible to research where you are going. Here are some questions you should ask:
· Is the destination airport accessible? Who can help you find the right accommodations?
· Does the hotel have a no-step entrance; rooms on the first floor; wide hallways/doorways; grab-bars or roll-in showers? Do they have other accommodations such as interpreters or amplified handsets?
· Is the local area disability-friendly? How will you be getting to local attractions and sites?
2. Bring a letter from you doctor - Preferably on a letterhead, a doctor’s note explaining your condition and necessary treatments could help you if you become ill or injured. Make sure the doctor’s contact information is on the letter.
3. Be specific - Not everybody will know what your particular disability entails or requires. When makin queries be very clear about what your needs are.
4. Know about emergency services - In the US, 911 is the universal emergency phone number. What about in other countries? Be sure to know what to do if you have an emergency.
Remember, being prepared for the worst allows you to enjoy your time better. Here are some travel sites geared toward helping people with disabilities: