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It is estimated that about twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of people in this group is increasing daily. If you are a family that fits into this group we know that you NEED to, WANT to, and SHOULD travel! We know this because we ARE one of these families and we've been helping families just like ours (and yours) go on these extremely important, and very much needed, vacations.
Travel professionals such as myself, that are accessible travel advocates and are certified by Special Needs Group www.specialneedsgroup.com, have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities and their family members enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.
When we work with your family we will help you craft the perfect vacation for YOUR family by:
1. Outlining Your Specific Travel Needs
We will take the time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? We will make a list, referring to relevant brochures, and discuss them with you to make sure we don't miss anything.
We help you make a list of your specific requirements: What types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home? Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides? How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?
It is our opinion that when you travel, whether solo or in a group, it is not the time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, then we will place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of the Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.
2. Making Sure You Plan Ahead
If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. We will do the research and confirm that the method of transportion on your itinerary has a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair. We will find out for you if oxygen is allowed on board. Did you know that some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders? Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms.
Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions. Again, documentation and paperwork are required.
Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, we will double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip. We will confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. One rule of thumb is that the earlier you can book, the better your chances are of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking also increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important to you and those people traveling with you.
One very important piece of advise that we share with all of our clients who are traveling with a limitation or disability, is to purchase a full travel insurance policy for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance. These are extremely important for families that always have to prepare for the unexpected.
Simply stated, we will not take anything for granted. Please know that it IS possible for us to arrange accommodations for almost every situation. We want you to know that the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.
We are ready, willing and able to make sure all of your needs are met, and we look forward to helping you with all of your accessible travel needs!