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Accessible Travel & Traveling with Special Needs

Traveling with special needs requires careful consideration and planning, something I take to heart as a travel advisor. Whether the needs are major or minor, they are important, and it's my joy to ensure that every traveler has an amazing vacation experience.

Personally, I have physical limitations related to an autoimmune condition and have learned to prioritize my well-being when traveling. For instance, when my condition is active and I’m on certain medications, I request a wheelchair in the airports to conserve my energy, and I am selective about the locations and features of my hotel room.

Having an eye towards a traveler’s particular needs are critically important to me. I've had several opportunities to serve those who need some kind of assistance.

A mother and her daughter

Traveling with a Child with Autism

A few years ago, we planned an itinerary for a family heading to Argentina, South America. This was a family of four, and one of their daughters has autism. When traveling with children who have special needs, the most desirable way to go is with private or small-group tours. For autism, we wanted to keep the environmental stimulation as low-key and controlled as possible. Flexibility is also paramount. Everything that went into planning their itinerary kept their particular comforts and needs as a family in mind.

Accessible Travel for Disabled Seniors

A sign showing "step free route"

In 2022, we planned a Spanish vacation for a couple and their elderly parents, all of whom use walkers. The goal was to arrange an itinerary for the family that was cultural, beautiful, and fun while still being physically easy and uber-flexible.

Finding accessible accommodations was crucial, so I secured villas in Madrid and Barcelona. Many travel agents will not book homes because of the risks of cancellation and the risks with quality. But when it makes the most sense, I do my best to serve my clients’ needs and desires. In this case, it was exactly what they needed. They all had their own bedrooms, and I picked apartments that provided the parents with walk-in showers (no big step over a bathtub).

A client's Christmas card showing pictures of their accessible trip

For their touring itinerary, they had private tour guides and transportation that allowed them to start and stop whenever they needed. They could take breaks. They could divert the itinerary or revisit something they wanted to see again. Their vehicle was a van that accommodated all five of them along with the walkers. The stops along the tour were the accessible ones, leaving out any places with uneven terrain. We also had the contact info of a scooter rental company ready to go, just in case the folks decided they wanted to stroll through the park without having to worry about getting too fatigued. Finally, they had a car for hire available for them when not touring. This way they could get around without having to worry about vehicle capacity. (Taxis just aren’t practical when you have 5 people and 3 walkers!) The trip was a hit and all they hoped it would be.

Wheelchair-Friendly Travel

I once had the privilege of planning a Sedona and Grand Canyon adventure for a couple, with the wife navigating the journey in a wheelchair. Every detail of their trip was meticulously arranged to ensure their comfort and accessibility. From fully wheelchair-accessible accommodations throughout Arizona to a private tour guide who could accommodate their mobility needs, every aspect of their itinerary was carefully tailored.

One highlight of their trip was a flight-seeing tour over the Grand Canyon, made possible by a rare find: a company equipped to provide ramp access to their small plane. It was a pleasure to anticipate and address every detail to ensure they had a seamless and unforgettable experience exploring some of the world's most beautiful natural wonders. The couple had such a wonderful time that they have become repeat clients, knowing that they will always be in good hands with us!

I'm passionate about making travel accessible to those with special needs and take pride in removing barriers to travel. With access to rental suppliers offering equipment like beach wheelchairs, heavy-duty scooters, and bed lifts, I strive to ensure that every traveler's needs are met, regardless of their circumstances.


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