The Ultimate Traveler Guide for Special Travelers
Limited mobility should not have to keep you from the extraordinary wonders of the world. In fact, most national parks and other signature tourist destinations in the United States are guided to abide by limited mobility standards set in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes additional access points such as easier parking, navigation routes, spectator seating areas, and even potentially discounted prices. The following informative guide has the details you need for setting up a well-rounded trip that is both adventurous and safe.
There are numerous renowned sites from around the world that cater to travelers with disabilities and some have been included in this article. This guide contains everything from what routes to take and what activities to partake at each tourist spot. So, pack up your bags and get ready for a trip around the globe!
Niagara Falls, Canada
The Niagara Falls are the most famous waterfalls in the world and are a sight to behold. With approximately 30 million people visiting every year, Niagara Falls is certainly a place to be able to check off your bucket list!
The waterfall administrators strive to make sure every tourist gets the elevated experience they desire. This includes public spaces, hotels, bathrooms, and common rooms. Overall, any visitor in a wheelchair can easily access all vantage points, get a great view of the roaring waters, and feel the spray in the air.
Washington, D.C., USA
Washington, D.C., is a hub of history, political reform, and incredible low cost attraction points. One of the most well-known tourist spots is the White House. It is entirely accessible, and the tour includes your personal escort plus easily rentable wheelchairs if needed. Nearly all the museums available in Washington, D.C. are wheelchair accessible and have every convenience needed for an enjoyable, easy outing.
Another key sight is the Lincoln Memorial. It is also wheelchair friendly and has accessible bathrooms with water fountains. The compound has elevators and ramps situated almost at every access point, allowing for feasible exploration for those with limited mobility.
Daytona Beach, USA
Are beaches and hanging out in the sun more your style? Daytona Beach, with its wheelchair friendly pathways and enticing activities, is the perfect destination for those with limited mobility.
We have added this to our list of accessible attractions because there is just so much you can do at this single location. Here are a few options with easy accessibility: Paragon Theatres at Ocean Walk Shops for those wanting a movie with their scenic view. Dunn’s Attic and the Auction House has some great shopping, and they have a cafe with a friendly staff ready to help. Daytona500 is a big deal in Florida! The Daytona International Speedway boasts many convenient features and provides ADA victory information.
San Diego, California
Time to gear up with some shorts and a sun hat because San Diego is no place for winter blues. It has 70 miles of captivating beaches and almost all of the beaches cater to wheelchair tourism. Free beach wheelchairs are available at seven San Diego beaches.
Old Town Trolley offers three vehicles with lifts, each with two spaces for wheelchairs. Balboa Theatre and the San Diego Civic Theatre both offer wheelchair-accessible seating and restrooms. SeaWorld is one of San Diego’s biggest attractions. They also offer rides and attractions suitable for people with special needs.
Always bustling, the city offers easily accessible railway travel suitable for people of all needs. London buses and railway trains support wheelchair travel and aid in a better sightseeing experience for people with limited mobility. London has numerous disability friendly tour companies, which include ferry, foot, bus, and train.
The Natural History Museum, British Museum, and National Gallery (among other places) are all very easily accessible for those who need special physical requirements.
The Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and Science Museum in England are amassed with glorious exhibitions and outstanding life-size structures. All three of these museums cater to handicapped visitors. The museums are enormous, fascinating, and insightful places -- perfect for anyone with a curious bone. There is something for everyone: dinosaurs, astronauts, aircrafts, extinct mammals, ancient leaders, and much more!
Visitors are allowed easy access through the main entrance, and entry to all users is without cost. Visitors can also hire a tour guide for an elevated information tour of the museums. However, during exhibitions and big crowds, navigation might be a little tricky.
Spain’s Canary Island is probably the best place for special needs tourists. They have numerous excellent tours that take you around the scenic island. A few attractions include the third-largest volcano in the world, hiking in all-terrain chairs, and several beaches with floating wheelchairs if needed.
Disneyland and Disney World
Disney World is unparalleled when it comes to wheelchair-friendly attractions. Visitors can select from more than forty attractions with three levels of access.
- Must transfer from wheelchair or electric conveyance vehicle (ECV) to ride
- Must transfer from ECV to a wheelchair to ride
- Must transfer from ECV to a wheelchair, then from a wheelchair to a ride.
Both locations have a comprehensive host of services to cater to those with disabilities. They have benefits for victors with autism and other cognitive disabilities, including:
- Advance ticket purchase
- Stroller, ECV, and wheelchair rental
- Companion restrooms
- Quiet break areas
- Dietary accommodations
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
One of the most controversial and unique churches in the world is also an accessible tourist attraction. Still under construction, Sagrada Familia is a colossal stone structure carved into a masterpiece of a church. Adorned with dazzling stained-glass windows, antique stonework, and outwardly presence, the church is worth its entry fee. However, for disabled visitors, the entry is entirely free of charge.
Some parts of the church are still in construction and the towers are very steep which can make it challenging to explore by wheelchair. However, the main entrance and first floor of the compound is wheelchair friendly and just as captivating. The church has an accessible entrance on the southwest side, which can be reached by bus or car.
Versailles Palace, France
The ancient royal residence of France is both grandiose and disability friendly. It is probably the most decorated, luxurious, and magnificent of all palaces in Europe. Filled to the brim with France’s rich history and art, Versailles Palace is breathtaking at every turn.
The palace is broken down into three buildings, which are all accessible by wheelchair. Visitors can spend their day soaking up the elegant interior of the place or exploring the otherworldly royal gardens. The upper floors of the chateau are obtainable by an elevator, while ramps link the first two floors to each other. Visitors can also rent golf carts at a discounted rate if they are traveling with a disability.
Myeongdong Street Market, Seoul
For anyone who loves exploring food and wants to visit Korea, this place is for you! Eat to your heart's content at this pedestrian access local Asian food haven. Due to its open structure, wheelchairs are easily moveable within the market. This is the only market of its kind! The Myeongdong Street market offers specialties such as fish cakes, Korean BBQ, dumplings, rainbow clouds of cotton candy, enormous ice cream towers, and pancakes that rival warm hugs. The Street Market is not only a food hub but is also a bustling spot for cheap shopping. Beware! You might spend all your cash here!
Located in modern Seoul, the market supports the city’s general layout that supports wheelchair travel and tourism. You have disability-friendly public transits and wheelchair supportive crosswalks.
Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, the hub of exotic cultures, kaleidoscopic festivals, and enigmatic past is a fierce, adventurous getaway. Surrounded by jungles and beaches, the enormous seaside city is like a scene from an extraordinary travel novel. Rio has a captivating range of steep mountains, but one spot stands out the most: Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain.
The Sugarloaf Mountain is accessible by a wheelchair due to its massive, chic transparent cable cars. These cars embark from lower Morro da Urca Mountain all the way up to Sugarloaf. Perched at the height of 1,299 feet, the cable car ride displays a 360° view of Rio. You can see Guanabara Bay’s ship, Rio beach, and the Christ the Redeemer.
Multnomah Falls, Portland
Another one for scenery enthusiasts, Multnomah Falls, perched on the Columbia River Gorge, is an incredibly spectacular waterfall. The area is known for its many waterfalls and picturesque pathways.
However, the mighty Multnomah Falls is the most suitable for handicapped visitors. Accessible by a vehicle from the Columbia River Highway, the tourist site features a wheelchair-friendly tourist spot located below the Benson Footbridge. The site also has its own wheelchair-accessible toilets and diner.
Multnomah Falls is the tallest in the state with a height of a whopping 620-feet. Moreover, it is the best relaxing point after heavy travel into the many regions and valleys of Portland. The site also allows for a 360° view of the state at the height of 700 feet and you can see the Crown Point’s octagonal Vista House from here.
Doge’s Palace, Venice
Venice, an architectural masterpiece, is one of the most visited and loved tourist attractions worldwide. However, its picturesque bridges and alleys are not the only spots that cater to handicapped travel. Many sites within the city can also be accessed.
One such site is the Doge’s Palace. The palace offers an unconfined entrance, which leads to an elevator. The elevator grants entrance to the upper floor where the palace rooms are located, and the luxurious interior and architecture are all available to tourists with special needs.
Most of the palace rooms have step-free entry, while others have ramps for more effortless navigation. Perhaps the only downfall is the lack of wheelchair access to the ticket office, which is why we advise you to take a friend along. Once done, you can both have a bite at the Piazza San Marco right next door, which is world-renowned and wheelchair-friendly.
Tips for Making Your Accessible Vacation Easier
Traveling with a disability is not as daunting as it seems. The main rule here is to plan ahead of time. It is vital that you know everything about the locations and routes you will be taking on your trip. Follow our simple three-step plan for an accessible vacation.
Guide your Hotel in Advance
Hotels around the globe welcome customers with special needs. However, you will be better off if you plan in advance with your hotel. Guide your host according to your needs and the assistance you might be needing. This way you might be placed in a more accessible room with suitable facilities (such as bathrooms, feasible eating seating, and elevator service).
Most hotels are accessible via call or email and should not be an issue when planning your stay with them. Pre-planned visits can also shorten your search for an apt hotel for your needs.
Book a Tour Guide
Even for people without disabilities, a tour guide is the best way to experience a new culture. However, for travelers with special needs, it is especially suggested that you hire a travel guide. Not only would they be able to give you a smooth problem-free tour of the vacation spot you are visiting, but would also accommodate you with any special needs you might require. Consequently, the guide will plan out your journey for you, so you do not have to worry about what works with your conditions.
Ask Assistance from Your Airline
The foremost requirement for an easy traveling experience is the airline you book with. You can ask for assistance at the time of booking or at the time of arrival at the airport. Most airlines designate an employee to meet you at the airport to assist with your wheelchair, bags, and other assistance.
Mostly airline assistance is free and should not charge you anything. However, assistance policies vary from airline to airline. This is why we suggest that you research and plan accordingly.
For everyone traveling soon: have a safe trip, and wear your mask!