A Comprehensive Guide to Accessible Holiday Destinations is something always good to share! When I started to work for the Sports secretary of Santos, in Sao Paulo, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to meet many para-athletes. Some of them were Olympic medallists and
I have learnt quickly about their ability to do a lot of things that we probably would be surprised by. From football to marathons, they didn’t see their disability as an obstacle to being successful in their careers.
So why it would be different when we talk about holidays for people with some kind of disability?
Before this post, I was researching a couple of articles about travelling with a disability to check what projects and measures a popular travelling destination like the UK has to offer in accessibility.
It was a bit frustrating to see there is a lot to be done to improve in terms of accessibility. However, some companies are providing accessible tailor-made holidays for people with any kind of disability.
What is accessible Travel?
Also known as accessible tourism is the practice of making travel experiences, destinations, and facilities accessible and accommodating to people with disabilities or those with limited mobility.
It has the goal of ensuring that individuals with diverse physical, sensory, or cognitive abilities can participate fully in the travel and tourism industry, just like any other traveller. It means that the tourism industry should make it easy for those tourists to have the full tourist experience when exploring a new holiday destination.
Thinking about this matter, I have prepared a comprehensive guide to make it easy to understand the importance of understanding how tourism destinations are able to provide a better experience in accessible holidays.
Choosing the Right Destination
As with every travel destination we want to visit, I guess researching and planning is a crucial part of organising your holidays. In the case of accessible tourism, we may need to ensure that the location will cater for your specific needs.
It means much more than only offering inclusive tourist attractions and activities, allowing them to participate and fully enjoy their holidays.
These accessibility features go for such as wheelchair ramps, elevators, accessible public transportation, and accommodations with accessible rooms with stairlifts and facilities that make mobility easier and practical.
It’s quite important to check if the destination has a variety of accessible lodging options, including hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals, with rooms and amenities designed to accommodate people with disabilities.
You may know that The UK has strong anti-discrimination legislation in place, such as the Equality Act 2010, which requires businesses and public facilities to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate people with disabilities.
This has led the country to greater accessibility in many places.
Some of the UK’s most famous tourist attractions, like the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Stonehenge, offer accessible facilities and services, including ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms.
However, it’s not every city or town that will be providing accessibility or even maintaining ramps and wheelchair accessibility well signalised and preserved.
For this reason, check for accessible public transportation with accessible airlines, trains, buses, rental cars, ramps, and barrier-free attractions before hitting your travel destination.
After choosing your holiday based on what type of accessibility measures and services they provide, it is time to check if the accommodations around are catering to people’s disabilities.
Many hotels and accommodations have accessible rooms with features like widened doorways, roll-in showers, stairlifts, and grab bars.
Be sure to research and book accommodations that meet your specific accessibility needs.
It means searching for accessible lodging options, such as hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and hostels.
It’s worth noticing that the accessibility standards may vary from one location to another and may also be subject to local regulations.
It’s also important to remember that when you book an accessible room, it’s essential to communicate your specific needs to ensure that the room will meet your requirements and needs.
And please, check for certifications to ensure it is a well-equipped and accessible room.
Accessible Tours and Attractions
If you are planning to join many attractions and tours, it is always recommended to plan it carefully to ensure the accessibility of the activities you’re interested in during your travels.
Many destinations and venues are becoming more inclusive, but it’s wise to verify specific accommodations and services in advance to make the most of your trip.
The first step is always checking the official website of the tourist attraction. Most of the websites provide information about their accessibility features. Look for an “Accessibility” or “Visitor Information” section.
The same case about tourist attractions, museums, and cultural sites that provide accessibility features, such as audio guides, tactile exhibits, and sign language interpreters. This way, you can plan your itinerary more effectively.
Outdoor activities and adventure sports that cater to different abilities, like adaptive skiing, accessible hiking trails, and adaptive scuba diving.
If you have no access to the Internet or don`t know how to check websites, you can always consider using accessible travel agencies or tour operators that specialise in planning trips for individuals with disabilities. They can recommend and organise accessible tours and attractions.
If you love technology, apps such as Access Earth or AXS Map can provide all information about the accessibility of various locations, including tourist attractions.
Personal Stories and Testimonials
Word of mouth is still the best way of checking if a service is effective, isn’t it? So why not check personal stories and testimonials of other travellers with disabilities to ensure that you can explore the right travel destinations?
These travellers usually leave reviews of accommodations, tourist spots and many attractions, talking about their challenges, triumphs, and tips for a successful journey.
When I was searching for more information to write this article, I browsed many blogs made by people with disabilities, describing their travel adventures and experiences around the world.
These are excellent sources to trust their judgment and find tips on how to make the most of your accessible holiday experience. There is a lot of discussion about restaurants and dining experiences that offer wheelchair-accessible seating, braille menus, dietary accommodations, etc.
Including tips on communicating dietary needs to restaurant staff, airline companies and accommodations.
What is the future of accessible travel?
It’s a fact that accessible travel has become more inclusive. Not to mention that technology will play a significant role, in the development of apps, websites, and tools that provide real-time accessibility information and services, making travel planning more accessible.
One of the most exciting innovations for accessibility in ravelling is that destinations now may offer sensory experiences, making it more accessible for travellers with sensory processing disorders or autism.
Many accessible features available in varied destinations will help them plan and enjoy their trips with confidence.
As accessible information becomes more readily available, travellers with disabilities will be empowered to make informed choices about their destinations and accommodations.
Overall, the future of accessible tourism should offer inclusivity and a stronger commitment to breaking down barriers, allowing individuals of all abilities to explore the world with ease and confidence. That is what we expect to be put in practice in the following years to come.