Traveling With A Disability
- 1. Accessible Travel general information
- 1.1. Hotel Accessibility Check List
- 1.2. United Spinal Association: Accessible Transportation Solutions
- 1.3. Able Road-Rating Accessible Places
- 1.4. Access Anything
- 1.5. Ceiling Hoist Users Club
- 1.6. Emerging Horizons
- 1.7. FIA Guide for the Disabled Traveler
- 1.8. Global Access
- 1.9. Handicapped Travel Club
- 1.10. I Can Travel
- 1.11. Inn Seekers Tourism Bed & Breakfast Search
- 1.12. Matching Houses
- 1.13. The Disabled Traveler
- 1.14. Timeshare Resorts
- 1.15. Tips on Finding a Good Wheelchair Accessible Hotel
- 1.16. Travel: Companion resources
- 1.17. Traveling With a Disability-A Complete Guide
- 2. Travel by Air
- 2.1. Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)
- 2.2. Tips for Booking Your Flight
- 2.3. Flying with a Ventilator
- 2.4. TSA Screening
- 2.5. Contact Information for Accessible Travel Services for Major US Airlines
- 2.6. What to Do if Something Goes Wrong? Complaints Procedure
- 2.7. VIDEO: Air Travel Tips for Wheelchair Users
- 2.8. VIDEO: How to Self-Transfer onto an Aisle Chair
- 3. Travel agencies and organizers specializing in accessibility
- 4. Travel destinations
- 5. Travel Publications, Guides, and Blogs
- 5.1. Curb Free with Cory Lee
- 5.2. 101 Accessible Vacations: Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers
- 5.3. Gimp on the Go
- 5.4. Hotel Accessability Survey
- 5.5. Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Online Resources
- 5.6. Papa Wheelie Blog
- 5.7. The Ins and Outs of Accessible Van Rentals
- 5.8. TRAC Bus Travel-ADA Guidance
- 5.9. Wheelchair Traveling
1. Accessible Travel general information
1.1. Hotel Accessibility Check List
Hotel Accessibility begins with the reservations process and its critical to first have an understanding of the overall process, including what the common pitfalls are to a successful, accessible stay.
Checklist for a successful stay
* Search room type on line-More hotels than in the past feature not only bulleted accessibility features but include pictures that can assure you of the room layout you need
* Call the front desk directly, not the remote reservations line. In this way you can be more assured about actual accessibility at that hotel. Obtain and retain the name of the hotel manager in the event of later complications.
* Use your smart phone, Outlook calendar or smart travel app platform to record any specifics such as room numbers for the accessible room you require, the reservation conformation number, dates of your stay and manager name for later use as needed.
* Early on the morning of your stay, phone the front desk again to confirm your name is assigned to the accessible room you require. This is the perfect juncture to inform hotel staff that you specifically request a late check-in accommodation as relief shifts at that hotel may otherwise give your room away before your arrival. Call from the road if driving, from the airport boarding gate or from home prior to air travel.
* Inquire about accessibility of other hotel features, like a battery or water-operated lift for any swimming pools you'd like to use.
* Room numbers are assigned to last names of arriving guests early in the morning of the first day of the stay. This point is one where many errors are made by hotel staff that result in an inappropriate room assignment so avoid this pitfall by calling early in the day of your stay.
* In spite of your pre-panning, your bed height is way too high for you to transfer. Call the front desk requesting housekeeping staff to remove the base or box spring to lower the bed for ease of transfers.
* Should the worst-case situation happen anyway (they gave your room away and do not have another comparable room to provide you), insist that the front desk staff reach out to other area hotels to help you identify an alternative hotel room. Further, if this happens, advocate strongly against being required to spend more for your replacement room than what your deal would have been at the original hotel. Its the hotel mistake in this situation, hotel staff can obtain the comparable pricing on your behalf.
1.2. United Spinal Association: Accessible Transportation Solutions
1.3. Able Road-Rating Accessible Places
AbleRoad is a website and mobile app for finding and rating accessible places restaurants, shops, hotels, medical practices and many other venues. It's a perfect mobile service for people with disabilities, medical conditions and their friends, family members, and caregivers. You can access AbleRoad at the website or by using the iPhone and iPad apps. An Android App will be released sometime next month. They are all FREEso start posting reviews today! Here are the links to get started:
- Download the iPhone or iPad app via iTunes
- Two-minute video tutorial on Facebook that shows how to use the app and website
1.4. Access Anything
The mission of Access Anything is to improve the quality of life for millions of people living with disabilities in the United States and around the world by encouraging them to enjoy life to its fullest through the sense of freedom provided by travel, adventure, and a �never give up� attitude.
1.5. Ceiling Hoist Users Club
Ceiling Hoist Users Club
CHuC (the Ceiling Hoist users Club) has been set up by Equal Ability CIC to promote the interests of those disabled people who need to use hoists and particularly those who need, or prefer, ceiling track hoists.
1.6. Emerging Horizons
Emerging Horizons is a consumer oriented magazine about accessible travel. Emerging Horizons' primary focus is travel for people with mobility disabilities; everybody from wheelchair-users to slow walkers.
1.7. FIA Guide for the Disabled Traveler
FIA Guide for the disabled traveller
an essential tool to inform you on using your disability Parking Permit / Placard / Card in your own country, and abroad
1.8. Global Access
A Network for Disabled Travelers
1.9. Handicapped Travel Club
Handicapped Travel Club
The HTC encourages people with disabilities and their families to travel, to meet and to share information on making recreational vehicles accessible for the disabled.
1.10. I Can Travel
I Can Travel
Explore a broad range of handicapped-friendly travel opportunities and discover special cruises, tours and discounts. Learn how to plan your trip properly and what questions to ask before you set out on your journey.
1.11. Inn Seekers Tourism Bed & Breakfast Search
InnSeekers Bed & Breakfast Search
Listing wheelchair accessable B&Bs
1.12. Matching Houses
Holiday house exchange where people with disabilities swap houses with other people who have the same accessibility needs.
1.13. The Disabled Traveler
The Disabled Traveler
Web site run by consumer with a disability
1.14. Timeshare Resorts
Wheelchair Accessible Timeshare Resorts
If you are looking to purchase a timeshare that will accommodate your individual needs, this list is a great place to start your search.
1.15. Tips on Finding a Good Wheelchair Accessible Hotel
WhenWeTravel is a travel web site that gives you the power to search for specific vacation and travel destinations, tourist attractions, activities, restaurants, hotel accommodations, and airfare based on your unique requirements.
Excerpt from New Mobility Magazine:
On Feb. 16 2010 one of the largest hotel sites, Hotels.com, announced new features enabling users to search for rooms based on specific needs, such as wheelchair access and roll-in showers. When an accessible room is reserved, Hotels.com will contact the user to confirm the reservation or, if a room is unavailable, find a similar room at the same rate at another hotel.
1.16. Travel: Companion resources
1.17. Traveling With a Disability-A Complete Guide
Traveling with a Disability-A Complete Guide
When travelling by plane, a good part of your trip is spent at airports. In fact, on many trips you spend more time at an airport than you do flying.
When traveling with a child who has special needs every step you take needs to be very carefully planned.
In this post we give you five steps to get through the airport as fast and efficiently as possible.
Step One: Airport Parking
All parking lots have parking spaces reserved for individuals with disabilities. However if you do not have a Disabled Person Parking Tags or License Plates you are not allowed to park in these spots. Some airports provide free or discounted parking for cars with a disabled persons placard or license plate.
A few select airports offer special parking accommodations to any traveler with special needs regardless if they have a special license plate. Among the airports offering special parking options are Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Check your airport's website for information about parking for individuals with special needs. Alternatively consider getting a ride to the airport and skip the parking hassle.
Step Two: Drop Your Bags
To save time you should check in and select your seats before heading to the airport, however you will still need to check your bags.
Skip the long lines and check your bags curbside, Skycap will take your bags for your and print out your boarding pass. This will lighten your load and let you focus on your child.
Step Three: Security
Going through security can be the most challenging part of the airport experience. Long lines, sensory overload and the need to take of shoes and other items can make this segment very stressful. Here are some tips that can help:
Special lines All airports now have a special line that families can use. Use this line to avoid a longer wait and reduce the risk of a meltdown. If there is no such line or the line is too long explain your situation to a TSA officer and they should be able to accommodate your needs.
Know Your Rights The Transportation Security Administration has a comprehensive section about children with special needs. Before you head to the airport make sure to read it. The site covers everything from security procedures for children with special needs, to medical equipment, medications and more.
Step Four: Walking to the gate
A few tips when heading to the gate:
Make a Pit Stop
This may be a good time to make a bathroom stop. Most airports will have a family bathroom in the main terminal area. Once you head to your gate it may not be so easy to find a family bathroom.
Some airports require you to go through an underground tunnel to get to your gate. Many of these tunnels feature a light and sound display. This may prove difficult for children with sensory issues. Some airports (DTW is one), have a button that you can press to turn of the display for a period of five minutes. If your local airport does not have that option, it may be a good idea to prepare your child and bring noise cancelling earphones.
Some airports can be miles long. To make your walk to the gate easier you can ask for special assistance for a ride to your gate. Some airports have golf cart-like vehicles that can shuttle you quickly to your gate. If your airport does not offer such a service a wheelchair will be offered instead. You can ask for this assistance when checking in or look for a airport information desk and ask for assistance there.
Step Five: Extra Time
If you have extra time before your flight here are some useful tips.
Airport Play Areas
These days almost all airports have play areas. Some areas are small enclosed areas with toddler toys while others are large elaborate production that can keep your child busy for hours. Check your airports website to see where it is located in the terminal and if it is worth stopping by.
Airport Lounges used to be available only to frequent travelers and big important business people. Times have changed and lounges are more accessible now. Lounges usually provide comfortable seating areas, televisions, free snacks and a quiet relaxing atmosphere.
All airlines offer day passes to their lounge for about $50 (each airline has individual policies about how many children you can bring in with you at no extra charge). So if your flight is delayed or canceled an airline lounge may be a good option.
Go for a walk
You will be spending a bunch of hours cramped in an airplane. Go for a walk around the airport and explore all the new sounds and sights.
Find an empty gate
Look for an empty gate with no other passengers. This will give you a chance to relax a little while giving your child some extra space to move around and be themselves. Park on the floor play a game and enjoy!
Bonus: Disability Pages for the World's Biggest Airports
Below you can find over 60 airport web pages for special assistance and accessibility information for travelers with disabilities.
This above post is part of a nine part series on disability travel. Here are the other posts in this series.
Recommended for you
Written on 2012/05/03 by:
2. Travel by Air
2.1. Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)
Air Carrier Access Act of 1986
The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, also known as the ACAA, was enacted to prohibit commercial airlines from discriminating against travelers with disabilities. Governed by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), the ACAA mandates rules and regulations for airlines operating in the United States to follow. A few rules under the ACAA specify airlines:
- Cannot require travelers with disabilities to accept special services that the travelers do not request unless there are concerns for safety.
- Cannot take adverse action against someone asserting the rights on their own or on behalf of a traveler with a disability.
- Cannot limit number of passengers with disabilities on a flight.
- Cannot charge for accommodations.
Link to the entire Air Carrier Access Act legislation: https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-II/subchapter-D/part-382
There is still a long way to go ensure that air travel is equitable and fair to all. There are many working groups, that serve to advocate for actions to enhance accessibility in air travel. Some of these continuing efforts have led to the passing of the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2017, which led to incorporate accountability measures regarding accessible air travel including the formation of the Air Carrier Access Act Advisory Committee and increasing civil penalties for damages to mobility aids or injuries to travelers with disabilities.
2.2. Tips for Booking Your Flight
Below are considerations to take into account when booking your flight.
Research the Airlines
- Review the policies of various airlines regarding travelers with disabilities and choose the airline that best meets your needs.
Try to find direct or nonstop flights to your destination
- If able, try to find nonstop or direct flights to your destination. If no direct flights are available, consider the time required for things like deplaning and traveling to a new gate. Once you’ve factored in all the time needed to meet your needs between flights, find the flight route that works best for you.
- Types of flights:
- Connecting flights: Flights with scheduled stops that require you to change planes at connecting airports. If you choose this type of flight, make sure there is enough time between connections for things like deplaning and wheelchair assistance.
- Direct flights: Flights with a scheduled stop, typically to refuel or drop-off/pick-up travelers, before reaching your destination. Direct flights do not require a plane change, but you may need to deplane with your belongings during the break.
- Nonstop flights: Flights that take you directly to your destination without any stops. If able, choose nonstop flights when booking your trip.
- If you’re traveling to a far destination, consider breaking up the travel into more than one day to allow your body to rest.
Choose your seat accordingly to your needs (if able)
- Most airlines will prompt you to self-identify any accommodations you need when booking online. If, for any reason, a prompt does not appear, contact the airline directly to provide advance notice of any accommodations you need.
2.3. Flying with a Ventilator
The International Ventilator Users Network (IVUN) has a great website for information relative to traveling with a ventilator. Their website includes
Ventilator Users and Their Advocates Are Asked to Contact Nancy Lauck Claussen, FAA, at email@example.com, to expedite the approval of ventilators for flying and/or delay the implementation of the specific regulation requiring a sticker until the FAA and the manufacturers complete the process. Claussen acknowledged that the FAA stickers are not readily available but the DOT decided to go ahead with the ruling because of its many other improved initiatives for people with disabilities. So for now, it is "up to the carriers."
2.4. TSA Screening
Every traveler is required to go through the TSA checkpoint for screening. Fortunately, TSA has helpline, TSA CARES, available to provide travelers with disabilities with assistance regarding the screening process. It is best to contact TSA CARES 72 hours before traveling for any specific questions or accommodations you may have.
TSA CARES is available by phone on weekdays from 8 AM to 11 PM EST and from 9 AM to 8 PM EST on weekends and holidays. The phone number for TSA CARES is:
You may also fill out their online form to request assistance at the security checkpoint.
Disability Notification Card
TSA advises travelers with disabilities to fill out a Disability Notification Card in advance to present to the TSA officers at the security checkpoint. The card notifies the officers that you may need alternative screening procedures.
2.5. Contact Information for Accessible Travel Services for Major US Airlines
Below is a list of phone numbers and webpages on accessible travel for major US airlines.
|Airline||Phone Number||Accessible Travel Information Page|
2.6. What to Do if Something Goes Wrong? Complaints Procedure
If you experience any issues or feel that your rights as a traveler with disability were violated while traveling, follow the steps below:
- Document any damages, injuries, or other issues caused by the airline.
- Take pictures and videos as needed for evidence.
- Obtain the names of airline personnel involved.
- Obtain contact information of witnesses, if able.
- File a complaint with the airline’s Complaint Resolution Official (CRO). Make sure you get the CRO's name for reference. ........................................................................................................................................................................................
- The CRO will provide you with a written statement on whether they agree or disagree if an ACAA violation occurred.
- If the CRO agrees that a violation of the ACAA occurred, the written statement that the CRO provides must include a summary of the incident and the action steps that the carrier proposes to take in response.
- If the CRO disagrees that a violation of the ACAA did not occur, the written statement that the CRO provides must include a summary of the incident and an explanation of why the incident did not violate ACAA standards.
- File a complaint with the USDOT within 6 months of the day of the incident.
- Option #1: Submitting an Air Travel Service Complaint or Comment Form
- Option #2: Sending a letter by mail to:
|Office of Aviation Consumer Protection|
|US Department of Transportation|
|1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE|
|Washington, DC 20590|
2.7. VIDEO: Air Travel Tips for Wheelchair Users
Check out this webinar discussion among United Spinal Association staff members on tips for traveling by plane as a wheelchair user.
Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djNg6-finzw
2.8. VIDEO: How to Self-Transfer onto an Aisle Chair
Check out this how-to video by Spinal Cord Injury BC on how to self-transfer on to an aisle chair.
Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvcFmhTKujY
DISCLAIMER! This video and transfer technique does not apply to everyone. Please consult with your physical or occupational therapist prior to attempting this.
3. Travel agencies and organizers specializing in accessibility
3.1. Accessible Journeys
Accessible Journeys is a vacation planner and tour operator exclusively for wheelchair travelers, their families and friends. Since 1985, wheelchair accessible vacation travel has been our only job.
3.2. Easy Access Travel
Dedicated to meeting the special needs of disabled & mature travelers
Easy Access Travel Specializes in Accessible Cruise Vacations and Packaged Land Tours for Persons with Physical Disabilities.
3.3. Disney Accessible Cruise destinations
Disney cruises announces 46 wheelchair accessible shore destinations in 39 ports of call.
3.4. Flying Wheels Travel
Flying Wheels Travel
Toll free: 877-451-5006
We plan and organize an accessible vacation that is right for you. We will arrange transportation accessible accommodations, tours, excursions and about anything else you can imagine for physically challenged clients and their able-bodied companions
3.5. Travel For All
Travel For All
United Spinal members are invited to plan their next vacation adventure with Travel For All, accessible travel specialists. Travel for All is offering a discount to United Spinal members and donating 15% to United Spinal on commissions from each booked trip. Enjoy this vacation video and complete this contact form to contact Travel for All and book your next adventure!
4. Travel destinations
Access Africa now offer wheelchair accessible holidays in comfort for the adventurous disabled traveler. Take extensive tours and trips around South Africa including safaris, traveling in our air-conditioned fully wheelchair accessible transport.
a South African based Safari Tour Operator specializing in the mobility impaired in the region of KwazuluNatal from Durban along the Elephant Coast to the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, The second largest and world renowned Game Reserve. Access2 Africa will show you delightful,unique and accessible attractions off the beaten track. Access2africaSafaris was created by JJ Bezuidenhout a c4 quadriplegic himself.
Accessible Tours in Southern Africa
Rolling SA offers the disabled traveller the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of South Africa.
Endeavour Safaris is a family owned company in Southern Africa specializing in accessible travel for disabled people, creating independence, enriched standard of living and travel opportunities for physically challenged people.
Epic Enabled offers family friendly, wheelchair accessible, overland camping & adventure safari holidays in Southern Africa to the physically disabled traveller.
Go Africa Safaris & Travel
At GoAfrica Safaris & Travel we tailor make our safaris to suit individual needs and interests and give you the opportunity to explore the mysteries, magic and wonders of Africa. With our specialized safari services, we offer disabled and special needs travelers unprecedented freedom to travel to Africa.
Accessible holiday home for wheelchair users and disabled in Hua Hin, Thailand
Handicap accessible holiday homes for wheelchair users. Villa with disabled access in Thailand with swimming pool, jacuzzi and included a manual pool hoist. Wheelchair accessible holidays. Accommodation adapted for wheelchairs.
Accessible Nepal Travel — Kathmandu, Nepal
Accessible Nepal specializes in accessible tours in Nepal. Their mission is to empower their community by bringing people with reduced mobility closer to the beauties of Nepal. Accessible Nepal offers different tour activities planned in detail for people with physical disabilities, depending on each traveler’s needs.
DHC Chiang Mai resort
DHC Chiang Mai resort, nestles amongst lush rice paddies at the foot of Doi Suthep mountain and combines traditional Thai style with modern facilities , without sacrificing any luxury or comforts. The resort, takes out the challenge of accessibility for anyone, more so, if the physical condition of the traveler is an issue ,without compromising the aesthetics and privacy of the resort.
Wheel Away Disabled Travel - Hong Kong City Guide
The Hong Kong city guide is a 'must' for all adventurous travelers, travel agents and health care professionals. It contains detailed information on accessible transportation, over 100 hotels, 370+ restaurants, and top tips for sightseeing and shopping.
4.4. Homes in France, Holland, Hungary & Thailand
Wheelchair Accessible Holiday Homes
Accessible holiday homes for wheelchair users and disabled in France, Holland, Hungary, and Thailand.
4.5. Puerto Rico
United Spinal Association pamphlet on Accessible Travel-Old San Juan Puerto Rico including hotel listings and transportation guidance.
Equipos Pro Impedidos
Traveling to Puerto Rico?
Rent a wheelchair accessible van for a day or for weeks at a time with EPI! Our rental vans are maintained to the highest industry standards and are offered at affordable rates and favorable terms.
Give us a call (787) 746-7667
5. Travel Publications, Guides, and Blogs
5.1. Curb Free with Cory Lee
A blog from Cory Lee (an avid traveler)— Sharing the World From a Wheelchair User's Perspective.
5.2. 101 Accessible Vacations: Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers
101 Accessible Vacations: Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers is the first guidebook dedicated exclusively to wheelchair-accessible destinations, lodgings and recreational opportunities.
5.3. Gimp on the Go
Gimp on the Go
Disabilities Travel Publication
5.4. Hotel Accessability Survey
United Spinal Association recruiting hotel accessibility survey participants:
A research team led by Dr. Shu Cole at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington is looking for individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI) or their caregivers to participate in an online survey that evaluates whether accessibility information provided by hotels are meeting the needs of people with SCI. Results of the study will help commercial lodging facilities provide better accessibility information about their properties to guests with SCI. A $30 gift card (Amazon or Visa) will be sent to those who complete the survey. A paper survey can be sent to participants upon request.
Participants must be 18 years or older. No past hotel/motel experience is necessary. The survey takes about 20-30 minutes. Potential participants with SCI or their caregivers should contact the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 812-855-9037 for a link to the survey or a copy of the printed survey.
Participation in the survey is completely voluntary and can withdraw at any time. Information solicited from this survey will be confidential, and data collected will be aggregated for analysis so that no individual responses can be identified. This project is funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.
5.5. Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Online Resources
Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Online Resources is exactly the kind of tool that can help demystify travel and give you the confidence to make a leap abroad. This 99-page PDF was curated by Martin Heng, an Australian with quadriplegia, and is available for free download via Lonely Planet's web site.
This guide includes country-by-country resource listings and accessible travel agent listings for more than 40 countries, synopses of key travel blogs and websites, and tons of great tips. Available for free download from Lonely Planet's website.
5.6. Papa Wheelie Blog
Papa Wheelie is a blog detailing the first-hand travel experiences of a wheelchair user and his family as they explore the world. Every hotel, resort and cruise ship is reviewed in detail from an accessibility point of view. The good, the bad and the ugly of each experience is shared and pictures of important accessibility features that are difficult to find elsewhere are included with each post (grab bars, wheel-under sinks, wheel-in showers, etc.).
5.7. The Ins and Outs of Accessible Van Rentals
The Ins and Outs of Accessible Van Rentals
For many people with disabilities, accessible vans are the key to unlocking their independence on the road.
5.8. TRAC Bus Travel-ADA Guidance
Transit Research Accessibility Center (TRAC) is designed to educate people about the ADA required accessible features of fixed route buses. The APP applies only to the Albany, NY area at this time but the training videos are relevant nationwide regarding ADA transit requirements
5.9. Wheelchair Traveling
Wheelchair Traveling was created in 2006 and works to empower people with limited mobility, their friends, and loved ones to access and experience the world of adventure and leisure travel. Contact us.
wheelchairtraveling.com is the first-ever online community for accessible travel in the world. From the start, I knew that I could not review every country let alone every hotel, attraction and park; plus, we all have different access needs and interests. There is SO much to do and see in this world and though anything is possible, accessible travel information is needed.
Here you will find thousands of resources, reviews, guides, and tips from over 100 writers worldwide about accessible travel. I want you to be able to plan a trip the way you like: on your own, with a full-service tour company or specialized travel agent. You know your budget, what you want and what you are willing to do.
ANY money generated from the website goes back into the sitenot to pay for travel costs. I work nearly 24/7 in order to bring the world this platform, including but not limited to writing, editing, video-making, technical support, website manager, customer service, sales, IT support, and all the many facets of marketing. See a problem or have a comment? Email me.
At 14-years-old, I was paralyzed in a car accident that completely alter my life-plans. I have experienced the worst accessibility and unresponsive/uneducated people about access, but it has not stopped me. In fact, it has made me stronger. I am a life-long access advocate doing all I can with the time I have to improve our world now and for tomorrow.
My dream is to see a person with access needs every single day, whether it is at a local grocery store or abroad, taking care of business and living life. We are a part of this worldaccess matters!
Ashley Lyn Olson