Do Your Homework
It is very important to take your time and do your homework when planning a vacation. This starts by choosing a destination that is widely accommodating to disabilities. Nowadays with technology, it is easier than ever to see how accommodating a place may be. Google Maps is a great tool to see if the area has lots of handicap parking, the sidewalks are large, and you can even see bumpouts and accessibility using the Google Street View feature.
Another thing to consider before booking anything is the hotel. Look for a hotel that is ADA Compliant. Things like Priceline.com can be helpful with their search filters that narrow down “Handicapped Rooms/Facilities”. Although I would still highly recommend calling ahead and seeing whether or not the rooms will accommodate your specific needs. For instance, if you need to fit a Hoyer Lift under the bed and their hotel uses platform beds then you will not be able to use the lift.
Also, take into account is how far away you are willing to stay, as well as the time of year that you are looking to stay. Weather.com has great search features to see what the general temperature will be throughout the year so you can plan your days out (or avoid rainy seasons). When it comes to traveling consider whether or not you want to fly. And if you are flying make sure you read this article to consider some of the tips here in the Independent Traveler Blog.
Here are some quick tips…
- Googling handicap accessible places to eat ahead of time. This will help ensure you’re not driving around and looking for places.
- Consider investing in a Portable Human Lift. This is a Hoyer Lift that can fold so that it can more easily fit into a van.
- Find the perfect bag to help you get organized for the day. Consider a bag with many pockets for organizing your stuff. Often times traveling packs or a 3-day pack can be a great option for traveling.
- Consult with your physician prior to going on vacation. Make sure to ask about getting clearance to fly on a plane if needed. Also, ask about getting all medications that you may need for the trip.
- If you’re flying, look at how to check your bags and assistive devices that you may need throughout the airport.
- Look into nearby hospitals, dentists, and physicians that are covered by your insurance in case of an emergency.
- Drop any expectations. And have fun!!!
Many amusement parks have been accessible for years now. That is no surprise, however, many of them are now allowing the people with disabilities to partake in all of the fun. Accessible rides are a normal occurrence at most parks now. I recommend calling the park first to find out exactly what rides are accessible and also if they offer access passes. These passes allow individuals with disabilities access to the front of the line without having to wait in the long lines.
Some places to check out are:
- Disney World — Orlando, FL
- Morgan’s Wonderland — San Antonio, TX
- Knoebels — Elysburg, PA
- Six Flags
- Sesame Place — Langhorne, PA
The Cerebral Palsy Guide made an awesome post here with some additional Accommodating Amusement Parks to check out as well.
Beach travel is an increasing destination for people with disabilities, this could be correlated with recent accommodations to the beaches and boardwalks. Most beaches nowadays are equipped with ADA Compliant restrooms as well as beach wheelchairs and walkouts to the hard sand. Take Ocean City, Maryland for instance. They make it easy to park with spots leading right up to the boardwalk. Then you can see a lifeguard about reserving a beach wheelchair (pictured to the left) then you can head right out to the beach. Make sure that you plan accordingly finding a parking spot close to the lifeguards and consider the undertow when wheeling close to the water.
Another thing to consider is the use of a boardwalk. Many beaches have boardwalks and offer many different shops and restaurants that are accessible. This can make meals very easy to accommodate into a day at the beach. Again, doing your homework prior to booking is an important step that can ensure an amazing trip!
Many cruise lines are great for vacationing and accommodating as well. Many of them even have teams to help personally accommodate
your trip. Even many of the destinations are accommodating. One of our patients went to Alaska on a cruise last year and had the time of
If you get carsickness, chances are you may get seasick. The rooms lower and more central to the ship tend to be the best to prevent seasickness. You may also want to consult your physician prior to going as there can be some medicines to help prevent sickness.
If you have always wanted to travel the big cities and see the city life, city traveling might be right for you! City traveling can be a blast. And many cities are very friendly to wheelchairs. Whether it’s New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, or Baltimore, cities have many attractions and can offer days and days of fun. Planning is key here, with all the different cites to see and attractions to do, you want to make sure you get to do everything you want.
History Buff? Or just want to see Gettysburg, Washington D.C., Stone Hedge, or Jerusalem? Well, guess what, you can travel to almost any of them! Even the battlefields of Gettysburg are accessible and paved. Although I will admit some of the hills can be a bear if you’re pushing someone in a wheelchair. However, that would not keep us from venturing out and exploring Little and Big Round Top.
That is right! Most historic parks are now all accessible too. Some of my recommendations include
- The Grand Canon
- Yosemite National Park
- The Great Smokey Mountains
- Rocky Mountain National Park
Have a Backup Plan
Having a backup plan is vitally important. I know this seems like more work than it is worth. However, one of my patients told me about how a room was mistakenly booked out and the family resorted to staying in a standard non-accommodating room for a couple days until an accessible room opened up. This was a huge burden on the vacation and made it much more difficult than it was worth. So making a backup plan is necessary. Finding additional hotels in the area that are also accommodating and close to the attractions you want to visit is important.
If you plan ahead and take the extra time to make sure that you are prepared for anything, then the trip will be much more enjoyable. I often times talk to parents that are reluctant to take vacations with a son or daughter that has accommodating needs. However, in the end after consideration and thought along with planning the trips always seem to go great! Just remember planning ahead is the key to having a great time!