Accessible Travel

360 access What is Accessible Tourism?

Accessible Tourism, as defined by Darcy and Dickson (2009, p34);

Directional signs to world cities on a wooden pole by the palm tree at Long Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos Islands – Photo by Deanna Ritchie on Unsplash.

  • Lack of well-adapted hotel rooms
  • Lack of accessible airport transfer
  • Lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles
  • Lack of accessible restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Inaccessible, or only partly accessible, web sites
  • Lack of adapted toilets in restaurants and public places
  • Inaccessible streets (cars parking on the sidewalk, etc.)
  • Lack of professional staff capable of informing and advising about accessibility issues
  • Lack of disability equipment (wheelchairs, bath chairs, toilet raisers, electric scooters)
  • Lack of reliable information about a specific attraction’s level of accessibility (church, castle, exhibition, etc.)

Disability Travel Tips

  • Bicycle shops are great places for wheelchair replacement parts.
  • Learn foreign vocabulary that can help you describe your situation and needs.
  • Consider getting travel insurance. Make sure that it covers pre-existing conditions.
  • Bring plenty, even extra, of any medications that you take. Make sure that all medicines are allowed in the country you’re visiting.
  • Look for disability organizations or resources at your destination that can provide you with area-specific information as well as local contacts.
  • If you use an electric wheelchair, look into whether you’ll need a plug adapter and a voltage converter. Or see whether you can rent a battery charger abroad. Have a contingency plan in the event of power outages or voltage drops.
  • Have a backup plan, including your accommodation. In case your reserved accessible room isn’t available, bring along items such as a portable ramp, a shower chair and a reacher to grab items that may be beyond arm’s length.
  • Know your rights. This is particularly important for airline travel, at the airport and on the plane. Familiarize yourself with applicable laws and airline regulations. Inform the airline of your situation and make assistance requests in advance.
  • Understand cultural differences. You may get more, or less, attention in other countries than you would in the United States. Then again, Roth-Vinson says, you may stand out more as an American than as a wheelchair user or a blind person.

Resources to Help You Plan a Trip

Travel 4 All The 360Access Travel Partner

  • American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), 800-275-2782, Search for travel agents by specialty, including disability and accessible travel.
  • Accessible Europe, 011-39-011-30-1888, A group of travel agents headquartered in Italy who specialize in accessible tourism.
  • The Guided Tour, 800-783-5841, Around since 1972, this company organizes trips for physically and developmentally challenged adults. A nurse often accompanies tours.
  • Flying Wheels Travel, 877-451-5006, A full-service travel agency offering escorted tours and customized independent programs around the world for those with disabilities.
  • Accessible Journeys, 800-846-4537, Caters to slow walkers and those in wheelchairs, offering cruises, tours and independent trips. Destinations include Africa, Asia and Europe.
  • Road Scholar, 800-454-5768, Founded as Elderhostel in 1975, the educational-travel provider offers trips at various levels of activity, including “easy,” which requires minimal walking and limited stairs.
  • The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, 800-900-8086, Hosted by the University of Alabama, the center has recreation resources on outdoor and travel activities throughout the country and abroad.
  • The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality, 212-447-7284, A nonprofit membership organization providing a database of companies and resources that assist people with disabilities in all facets of travel, such as scooter rentals, tour operators and suggested reading.
  • Statistics on Disabled Travelers, Europe and Worldwide
  • I look for a display of disabled people in each European country, and for some figures regarding travel services offered by counterparts.

  • On the ENAT website there are several documents and articles listed under the Theme heading: “Demographics and the Accessible Tourism Market”. Go to 

    Also you can find market information at the OSSATE website, here:

    Especially, you should know about this PDF file (report) by University of Surrey, United Kingdom:

    Other useful sites:

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