Resources and Tips for Disability Travel

By Inigo • Health • 30 Mar 2015

Traveling can be stressful in a variety of ways from being in a foreign place to finding your hotel without knowing the language. For travelers with disabilities or mobility challenges, these obstacles may be more exasperated and may face even more issues. When traveling to other countries, there are a variety of aspects and issues that must be considered so that disabled travelers may have a successful trip.

Nonprofits, such as Mobility International USA, specialize in aiding travelers with disabilities in going abroad. Their mission is to encourage and assist disabled people in their dreams to travel the world. Cerise Roth-Vinson, the chief operating officer of Mobility International, says, “The United States has really set the gold standard for physical access. People have concerns about going to other countries and whether they’ll be able to get around and communicate.”

Roth-Vinson also gave some insight on what to expect when traveling with disabilities to another country. She says that many people worry about accessible accommodations and cultural attitudes toward people with disabilities.

Roth-Vinson stressed that some countries have something equivalent to the US when it comes to accessibility, while others offer a more “rugged experience.” It all depends on the travelers level of comfort, whether they prefer US quality or don’t mind doing things a little unconventionally. For example, some countries have ramps and other accessibility features, while others rely more on community help i.e. a group of people spontaneously coming together to lift a wheelchair onto a bus.

Roth-Vinson advises that before choosing any one destination, to first investigate the disability laws and procedures put in place in each specific destination. Some have ADA-equivalent regulations and another good option are countries that have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons With Disabilities. 

“Don’t let your own preconceived notions get in the way of having an equal experience,” Roth-Vinson says. “Everyone faces the uncertainty. Everybody wonders if they’re going to get sick abroad. Everybody wonders if they’re going to get lost.”

Here are some more quick tips to also take under consideration:

  • Consider travel insurance, making sure it covers preexisting conditions.
  • Bring plenty, even extra medication that you take and make sure these medications are allowed in the country you are traveling to.
  • Bicycle shops are a great place to look for wheelchair replacement parts.
  • Know your rights. Familiarize yourself with applicable laws, especially for airline travel.
  • Have a backup plan, including your accommodations. In case your room isn’t accessible, bring a portable ramp, a shower chair, a reacher to grab items that may be out of arm’s length.
  • If your wheelchair is electric, look into if you’ll need a plug adapter.
  • Look for disability resources or organizations at your destination.
  • Learn some foreign vocabulary and phrases that you may need to use to describe your condition.
  • Familiarize yourself with cultural differences and expectations of reception of your disability.

About the Author: Jen is a guest contributor from Global Lift Corp., providing the finest quality ADA pool lifts available.

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