by Mary Graham
What are your travel
dreams? If you are ready for excitement, something new, exotic places, we can
help. Twenty percent (20%) of travelers
today have special needs. Many more want
to travel but are not sure if they can or how to make it happen.
Special needs are not only those with a disability. You may need a little extra help walking long distances (ships and airports can be very long walks). You may have a temporary disability from pre/post surgery, falls, etc. Sometimes traveling alone with small children can require extra help.
Special Needs also includes persons with
disabilities. The majority of these have
mobility issues. There are many
different needs, including needing oxygen. Again, don’t let that stop you from fulfilling your bucket list.
MGA has several travel advisors trained to help you meet these needs.
They can help advise you on meeting your needs whether transporting you and your mobility equipment, to finding accessible hotels, resorts and which cruise ship will best meet your needs.
They will help you decide if you want to use your own equipment or rent . Planning is important for any traveler. But especially so if you need an accessible room, rental equipment and planning excursions. Because you want your trip to be perfect and stress free , it is very important to make plans as early as possible.
Always, Always, Always get insurance. This is important for any traveler but more so for those with special needs. Your advisor will help you find which will be your best choice. MGA are there for YOU. They want your trip to be one made just for you.
With their help you can have the courage, imagination, and trust to go see what the world has to offer, and know all your special needs are taken care of.
What type of
equipment is available to rent?
Scooters, lift chairs, toilet/shower chairs, bedside lifts, oxygen, rollators,
special vehicles. Ask for what you
oxygen. What is available ?Sometimes you can
take your own. This depends on the
airlines or ships.Oxygen can be
delivered to your destination. There are
many types. You will need to know
the type and have your prescription.
I am a slow
walker and get breathless easily?
Will the ships be too much walking for me?
You do not have to be
disabled to have need of help. A
wheelchair, scooter, or walker will alleviate this issue, and greatly improve
your trip. Your agent will happily take care of this.
cruises very accessible?
Some River cruises,
especially those in US, are more accessible than others. Generally, if you are using a walker you
should be able to get around. They are
not made to accommodate scooters or wheelchairs. Most have a small lift that will take you to
different floors, but tendering and going to port can be difficult getting on
and off. There are a few River Cruises
that have accessible rooms. Check with
Are all of the larger cruise ships
accessible?Cruise ships vary
considerably. The newer ones or
renovated ones are generally made with greater accessibility. Your advisor can help guide you in finding
the right one.
Can I go on excursions? Some places the ship is able to port. Other places require a tender, or smaller boat, that will take you from ship to port. Some tenders have ramps and you can take a wheelchair or sometimes a scooter. But not all. The ramps from ship to port can be very steep, depending on tide, weather etc. And many places once off ship or not always accessible.
Excursions take research and , again, planning. Your MGA advisor can help find which places are ports and which require a tender.
Is most of Europe accessible? In 2011 the ADA law made it possible for most places in the states to offer accessibility, including many of our National and State parks. Europe is making efforts in this area.
Keeping in mind, many places are old ruins or older places where making it accessible is either very expensive or not available. You won’t be kissing the Blarney Stone! But you might take your chair and take in the beauty of the surrounding area. Be flexible.
Most of the airports offer wheelchairs. Many of the trains and buses offer ramps and lifts for mobility equipment. But many streets are cobblestoned or narrow with lots of tourists. Some of my favorite stops are where I am waiting in a wheelchair and got to meet many new people and observe those around me. Many times shops have steps to enter. Restaurants may have the bathrooms down winding steps. Venice is challenging. There is almost almost a way.
With the help of your MGA travel advisor you
can find the courage, imagination, and trust to go see what the world has to
offer and know all your special needs are taken care of.
As a special needs person, I have some first
hand experience with several trips I have made with MGA .
I want to share some photos. Would love to have anyone else who travels with MGA and have used their special needs experts to posts photos as well.
Many pathways in Europe. I like to take a thick pillow for my
wheelchair or scooter….
Getting down to water via a “lift” .
Lift to tenders on the new Celebrity
Edge. A very accessible ship. Loved it.
Lift to cable cars in Santorini. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t
accessible. There is an elevator to take
you to these steps.
Even with great tenders like the Edge has,
many ports want to use their own tenders. This one worked quite well.
This was a trip in
Venice aboard the Uniworld River Cruise.
The captain, a lovely person, is attempting to push the wheelchair. I had to tell him that though he was a
wonderful ship captain, he did not get passing grades on steering
wheelchairs. The chair is foldable and
was used off ship for excursions.
I travel mainly with the
Outlander’s Society, a travel group with MGA.
We were waiting on the gondole boats. The weather was not with us. Traveling
with a group makes travel so much more fun.
Transports are available at many places. They can take you and your equipment where
you need to go.
A special needs boat was renting in Venice to
get to different ports. This was definitely exciting.
A special guide was hired in Venice at Doges Palace. We were able to get into palace and he knew
where the ‘hidden’ elevator was.
This is over and beyond the call of duty. And a great show of effort and making it
work. There are many canals in Venice
and bridges are basically steps. Not a
lot of accessibility. But with teamwork,
they made it happen. (not really
Do not let anything stand in your way. Get out and Go. Don’t miss the adventure, the camaraderie,
food, and exciting challenges that comes with travel. Especially in a group.
Enjoy life !!!
Meeting up with friends Malta. Elevators…