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 for 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, or perhaps you have special dietary needs.
Special Needs is also for persons with disabilities. The majority of these people have mobility issues. There are many different needs, and many different available solutions. Please see the FAQ at the end of this page.
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, renting equipment , to finding accessible hotels, resorts and helping find which cruise ship will best meet your needs.
Planning is important for any traveler. This is especially so if you need an accessible room, rental equipment, special transportation or if planning excursions. Because you want your trip to be perfect and stress free , it is very important to make plans as early as possible. Because accessible cabins are limited, it is very important to book early.
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 Travel is 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.
If you have an airport personnel pushing your wheelchair, you can get in the fast lane at security. If you have a TSA pre check you will have expedited security screening benefits when departing from US airports. With this card you do not need to remove shoes,belts, laptops, or light jackets. This can make security check in much easier.
A notification card: tsa.gov/sites/defaults/disability-Notification-card-508. Helps provide travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process.
The Department of Transportation has a Bill of Rights for passengers with special needs.
Your agent will call ahead and make sure you have a wheelchair to take you to every gate. You can have wheelchair access to the aircraft door, and even an aisle chair to your seat, if needed. Bathrooms are not usually very accessible on planes, but most airports have accessible bathrooms where you can take a helper with you.
EXPLORE. LIVE YOUR LIFE. CALL YOUR AGENT. GO!!Many people who find themselves confined to or in need of a mobile device, are unwilling to go outside of their comfort zones. You have been given challenges. And with a knowledgeable agent, you can meet them. Do not let the fact that you have some limited issues stop you from enjoying and living life to its fullest. Go out. Explore. Enjoy life. Live. There are so many available devices and products to make the trip possible now. They are not a source of confinement, but a source to enjoy life to its fullest!
Many pathways in Europe are rough. I like to take a thick pillow for my wheelchair or scooter….and some rides are better than Disney!
Getting down to the water via a “lift” for a river cruise in Budapest.
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 though many newer ships, such as Celebrity’s Edge, have their own tenders. There are ports that require using their own private tenders, which may not be so simple to transfer with.
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 water taxi was rented 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 in Malta, we found that an elevator near the port can take you up to the top of the city in Valletta.
What type of equipment is available to rent?
Wheelchairs ( manual and power), Scooters, lift chairs, hoists, toilet/shower chairs, bedside lifts, hospital beds, and rollators. These devices can include heavy duty (300-500 pounds) scooters and wheelchairs .
Special vehicles can be rented and arranged for transport. Some beaches have JOB (Joy on Beach) chairs available. Dialysis is available on some ships
I use 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. POC ( portable oxygen concentrate) and standard oxygen concentrate are both available. 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 a need. A wheelchair, scooter, or walker will alleviate this issue, and greatly improve your trip. Your agent will happily take care of this.
Are river cruises very accessible?
Some River Cruises are more accessible than others. Generally, if you are using a walker you should be able to get around. They are not usually 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. Sometimes a river cruise ship has to “raft” next to other ships. You may have to go to the top decks to cross over. The top decks do not have lifts. There are a few River Cruises that have accessible rooms. Check with your advisor.
American river cruises are required to be ADA. You should be able to take or rent devices and go where you need to on one of these
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. My experiences on Celebrity have been great! I can get around better on one of their newer ships than I can at home. There are many newer ships which can offer the same accessibilities
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 and not always. The ramps from ship to port can be very steep, depending on tide, weather etc. And many places once off ship are 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 them 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 was able 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.
Bring my own?You can take your own power chairs but the ability to repair your chair within a few months is slim. I would recommend renting one. Your agent can help you.