Holiday ideas for mobility impaired travellers
Do you have a travel itch, but aren’t quite sure where to go because you, or someone in your family lives with reduced mobility?
Perhaps it’s the first time travelling with an elderly parent who can’t get around quickly anymore, or maybe you’re embarking on the first holiday with a disabled child. Or are you personally looking for amazing holiday memories in a way that your level of mobility doesn’t impact on your enjoyment?
Where to start when planning your next trip
Start with your interests and passions
Instead of starting with reduced mobility as a criteria, why not actually tap into genuine passions of the individual with a disability. After all, travel is about growing and expanding our world and perspective. It’s important that whatever activities or places one goes, they’re getting the most out of it for them and what they care about. So our first piece of advice is to write a list with interests and passions:
If you or your loved one is a keen outdoorsy person, then travel offers virtually unlimited options for you to experience. Many countries have walking tracks that are designated as accessible to varying degrees – meaning some will be manageable with a motorised wheelchair, and others may be smooth and flat enough for a manually driven chair.
There’s plenty of other outdoor activities that are perfect for someone with a disability to enjoy like everyone else:
- National Parks – amazing photo opportunities and the relaxing effect of nature’s most scenic places.
- Campsites – if your group enjoys going back to basics every so often, why not spend time in nature at a campsite with a good degree of access and proximity to the road if you need to get anywhere quickly for any reason.
- Zoos and Safaris – animal lover? Almost every zoo will offer barrier-free movement around their park to see animals and get up and close with wildlife. And if you’re looking to really get into nature where animals live, many safari operators will be able to accommodate customers with mobility needs.
- Boating – whether it’s on the sea, in a lake or down a river, there are many options for a group with a disabled member of the party. Simply check out each provider’s website for information about how they handle the safety of disabled guests.
The tourism industry has finally started to adapt to the ever-growing size of the global disabled community, by updating their access with lifts, ramps and wider doorways to accommodate everyone. While not every single landmark will have perfect access, the vast majority of popular places have and continue to make refinements to their accessibility. As we’ve talked about elsewhere in this guide, the number of elderly and mobility impaired travellers is only set to increase, so expect even the oldest of landmarks to adapt if they haven’t already.
Arts and Music
If you or your loved one is a fan of the arts, why not set out an itinerary based around visiting art galleries and attending live music? From New York’s famous jazz scene, to the famous artworks housed in the Louvre, Paris, an art and music lover has many incredible options for travel.
Popular venues within the arts almost always have accessibility sorted – so jump online and start putting together that wishlist!
Who doesn’t love good food? Some of us take our food so seriously that our holidays are dictated by the food on offer. And why not – culinary tourism is one of the more popular motivators for people to travel.
If you travel to some of the continents like Europe and America, you’ll enjoy a huge variety of cuisines as you travel. Otherwise if your budget or timeline only allows one country to visit, consider which culture’s food appeals the most. You’ll be doing plenty of eating out!
Build your holiday plan
Considering day-to-day movement
Now, while it’s unhelpful to put limits around where one travels with a mobility impairment, there are some practical questions to get answers to as you shortlist the options. The main consideration you’ll want to make is how easy moving around a destination is.
If the level of mobility is significant, it’s worth acknowledging some older places may have less than ideal pathways on which to operate a wheelchair or other equipment. A simple google search – or even google maps to get a visual idea, will help determine if a tourist spot is going to be difficult to get around.
Even if there are some restrictions around mobility in a city, don’t rule it out immediately. Even places like Venice where there are plenty of bridges and canals, have large parts still accessible by wheelchair.
However, if you’re looking for a destination where neither the mobility impaired individual or their family is going to need to worry about ease of movement, you can opt for somewhere known for being disability friendly – big cities are usually safe for this!
Building or landmark access
As we’ve mentioned, a growing number of popular landmarks are making changes to allow the inclusion of disabled visitors. With that said, it warrants a check of each landmark on your draft itinerary to make sure you can indeed access it with a wheelchair – not all countries have the requirements mandated to make places accessible so don’t rely upon your local laws when deciding where to go.
Proximity to facilities and accommodation
While this is practical for anyone to think about, a group with a disabled member is going to benefit greatly by having accommodation relatively close to the main activities planned in a destination. While this isn’t always possible given some tourist attractions are remote, you should strive for lodging that’s at least close to shops, dining and if applicable, the beach.
Cruise the sea
Disabled cruise holidays – see the world from the sea
There’s a good reason why cruises are so popular with the elderly but mobility impaired as well – they’re perfectly set up to offer all the features of a holiday in a place designed for ease of movement. The main reputable cruise lines have the process down to a fine art of hosting mobility-impaired guests and can deliver a fantastic holiday as a result. If you don’t mind being on the sea for days at a time, this might be a good option for you
Many cruise lines have great accessibility options
Getting around the boat needs to be as easy and safe as possible for a cruise ship – not only to cater to its customers, but in the case of an emergency disembarking process. For this reason, it’s very typical for cruise ships to have lots of ramps, lifts and wide doorways for guests to maneuver through.
Along with movement, cruise ships offer rooms with disability needs accounted for – simply jump on the website and explore the different room options.
Reduce the amount of transferring and movement required
Another benefit of taking a cruise holiday is the only transport you really need to consider is getting on or off the boat when it docks at set locations. Most of these locations will have activities relatively close to port, and for those that require travel, the cruise line will often arrange directly with the tourism operator.
Everything at your disposal on a cruise
Once you’re on the boat, you have all the amenities needed within a short walk – or available via the staff. Guests can eat, swim, play and rest with minimal effort – sounds like a good holiday to us!
Choose your holiday
Snow trips for disabilities
And if days of sunny weather at sea isn’t really your speed, why not cool things down by visiting any one of the mobility friendly ski resorts across the world – perhaps your nearest ski field has accessibility options too?
While skiing might sound like the furthest thing from accessible, there’s actually many activities that disabled individuals can participate in:
- Assisted skiing with modified skis
- And the classic snowball fights!
Travelling to the snow can be made possible with the right preparation and research, providing an incredible holiday and memories for all.
Ok, back to warm weather. The beach is another place where those unfamiliar with disabled travel may immediately resign to being impractical. The truth is far from it, with beaches the world over offering better beach access, and equipment that helps to move around.
Being close to the sea and relaxing on the beach can be very rewarding for someone with a disability, and even more so an individual who experiences sensory challenges.
Before committing to travelling to a particular beach resort, find out via the travel agent or online if there is both easy access to the beach and if there’s any equipment for hire to make movement easier. A good example of this are specially built wheelchairs with large wheels designed to get over sand easier than a traditional chair. Alternatively, there are long mats that can be placed on the sand to allow your own chair to make it across the sand.
Work with the travel specialists
Work with a specialised accessible travel company who can make incredible experiences possible for all.
With travel being so important to many of the huge global disabled community, there are many travel providers who specialise in building holidays for families who live with mobility needs.
Learn more about Showerbuddy’s range for disabled travellers
Showerbuddy provides solutions for mobility-impaired travellers. Head over to our travel range page to explore our purpose-built travel shower chairs. A good bathroom mobility chair that can come on the road with you makes travel much easier.
Support for Disabled Travellers
In many popular destinations there are numerous ways to make the trip easier. In this guide we outline some of the main supports that should be considered before travelling to make things go much more smoothly.
Flying with a Wheelchair
Travelling by air isn’t most people’s favourite part of a holiday – especially if it’s a long haul flight to get wherever you need to be. In this guid we’ll talk about flying with a wheelchair and offer some tips to help make a hassle-free journey.
Disabled Bathroom Tips while Travelling Abroad
Ask anyone living with a disability, or their family, and near the top of their lists of ‘things to think about’ when planning a holiday is the logistics around using the bathroom. In this guide we’ll provide some advice for navigating bathroom use with a disability.
Choosing Accommodation for Disabled Travel
Where to stay is a big part of planning a great holiday. It’s not just about the travel and seeing new things – you want to enjoy a relaxing, comfortable stay in some good quality accommodation. In this guide we’ll give you some handy tips for selecting accessible accommodation.