The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that governments, tourism boards, and other stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism industry must take measures to make tourism and leisure activities easier for differently-abled persons. This includes making tourist sites access-friendly, having wheelchair-friendly ramps and toilets, buttons with Braille, transport options, staff trained to help such tourists, and many more.
With changing times, travel for the differently-abled is surely becoming more and more accessible throughout the world. Although travelling with physically (or mentally) different abilities can be challenging, with careful planning, consideration, research and preparation, any trip can be made worry-free, enjoyable and memorable. Here are some tips to help you with your special needs while travelling.
Consult with your Healthcare Provider
Before planning your trip, consult with your doctors to ensure you are in good health and fit for travel. Discuss any specific concerns or precautions you need to take based on your medical history.
Choose the Right Place at the Right Time
While accessible tourism is practised efficiently in some countries like the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, South Korea, and Japan, it is catching on in other parts of the world, albeit slowly.
Before you travel, gather information about your destination’s accessibility. Look for wheelchair-friendly accommodations, accessible tourist attractions, and transportation options. Online travel forums and accessibility websites can be valuable resources.
Avoid travelling during peak seasons. If you know the place that you want to visit can get crowded, plan your trip when there is a fewer crowd. Many attractions such as museums have special tours for the differently-abled. You can check with them and book a slot when you plan your trip. These tours are generally free of cost.
Plan your Itinerary
Create a detailed itinerary that includes accessible attractions, transportation routes, and activities.
Consider your energy levels and plan for regular rest breaks. Consider the distance between tourist spots and pace yourself accordingly to avoid exhaustion or overexertion. Listen to your body’s needs. However, don’t be afraid to throw some accessible adventures onto your itinerary. Some of these include Paddling, Canoeing, Kayaking, Paragliding, Camping or even Scuba Diving.
Notify your Airline or Transportation Provider
Inform your airline or transportation provider about your specific needs in advance. They can assist and make necessary arrangements, such as wheelchair assistance, priority boarding or seating arrangements. It is also best to avoid connecting flights and layovers for hassle-free travel.
Arrange for Accessible Transportation
Research transportation options at your destination and check for the availability of accessibility features, such as ramps or lifts. Determine if accessible taxis, public transportation, or specialized transportation services can be availed. If needed, consider renting an accessible vehicle or arranging for transportation in advance.
Pack Essential Supplies
Carry all necessary medications, mobility aids, and any other supplies you may need. It’s also a good idea to bring extra supplies in case of unexpected delays or emergencies. It is advised to carry a doctor’s prescription to minimize security concerns at immigration checkpoints.
Get Travel Insurance
Consider purchasing travel insurance that provides coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen circumstances. Read the policy carefully to ensure it covers your specific needs and provides adequate coverage. Visit www.sitata.com to explore your insurance options and enjoy peace of mind while you create unforgettable memories.
It is also advisable to consult your doctors on the type of professionals to approach in case of emergencies – get the information and availability of relevant doctors at your destination beforehand, and send them a copy of your medical records. Sitata’s travel insurance also offers on-the-go ‘Doctor on Demand Telemedicine’. You can also download the Sitata Travel Safe app and request immediate medical help in case of emergencies.
Request Accommodations in Advance
Contact your hotel or accommodation provider before your travel to request accessible rooms or facilities and confirm the availability before making any bookings. Ensure they understand your needs, such as grab bars, roll-in showers, or lower beds.
Communicate your Needs
Communicate your needs to hotel staff, tour operators/guides, and other service providers. Let them know about your specific requirements so they can assist you effectively.
Know your Rights
Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. This knowledge can help you advocate for yourself if necessary and ensure you receive appropriate assistance.
Organize Important Documents
Carry copies of your medical records, prescriptions, and any other documentation related to your issues that you might need during your trip. It’s also wise to have emergency contact information readily available. Use a travel folder or digital app to keep all important documents, contact numbers, and reservation details in one place. This will help you stay organized and easily accessible throughout your journey.
Seek Local Assistance
Research local organizations or support groups at your destination. Based on their knowledge of local accessibility, they can provide valuable information, resources, or even assistance during your stay.
Remember to be patient, flexible and open to new experiences during your trip, as unexpected challenges can arise. By preparing in advance, advocating for your needs and seeking appropriate assistance, you can enhance your time exploring new places while enjoying a fulfilling and accessible travel experience.