Other’s perceptions of our possibilities may define our choices to such an extent that they set the limits of our potential. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we empower you to think of traveling with a disability as your way of doing remarkable things. Overcoming the stress of such an endeavor, requires relentless effort. However, as with every type of travel, with some insight and local advice, things become easier.
Gear yourself up for an adventure
Accessibility standards aren’t following a global rule. International organizations are striving to introduce a consistent understanding of disability, as well as a universal code of attitudes and behaviors towards disabled people. However, it’s a work in progress. So, it’s not uncommon in some parts of the world to not use wheelchair lifts. Instead, accessible van services employ men to lift you in your wheelchair into and out of the van.
The specifics of your disability matter. Have information such as the size of your wheelchair, medication prescriptions, and proof of disability documentation at hand before and during traveling. These details may be needed when booking tours and excursions, or a table at a local restaurant. Also, you may have to prove your disability to benefit from discounts on transportation, parking, museums, and other attractions.
Solo traveling? Think twice. The benefits of independent traveling are profound. From understanding yourself better and growing your confidence to making new friends. However, before you set off alone, consider all the complexities that unaccompanied traveling involves. Also, think about the emotional and practical support you won’t have.
Reach out to our locals. The more you know about what to expect during your stay abroad, the more secure and relaxed you feel. The best way to ensure personalized and up-to-date information is through a local. Contact our locals to find out about accessible activities and accessibility to shops and restaurants. What you don’t want is dining at the same spot every day because it was the only accessible place you could find. List the landmarks you plan to visit, the dishes you want to try, and the things you wish to do. Then, ask a local to help you create an accessible itinerary.
Accessibility around the world
Whether you are planning new travel adventures or contemplating embarking on your first overseas trip as a disabled traveler, look into some of the most accessible cities in the world. Washington D.C.’s entire public transportation system allows both powered and manual wheelchair users to get around the city independently. Dubai’s metro system is fully accessible. Also, the airport has a dedicated fast line for wheelchair users at passport control and security screening, as well as accessible restrooms throughout the terminals.
Japan, the host of the 2020 summer Paralympics boasts universally designed structures and a color coding system of train lines. However, there’s still room for improvement as most signs are in Japanese only. The ancient town of Chester in north-west England has become the most accessible city in Europe. Also, it’s the first British city to win the European Commission’s Access City Award. Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ major port city, has committed itself to become utterly accessible. Walking routes’ unevenness is nowhere greater than 3cm, and under the city’s rapid repair scheme, citizens can report accessibility problems in public spaces at any time.
Tip: Google Maps has recently added the option for users to select wheelchair accessible routes in Tokyo, London, New York, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney.