I feel in life everyone needs a vacation, whether you want to take a vacation to relax or to escape the reality of everyday life. If you work hard and save your money, taking a vacation can really rejuvenate your life. As someone who has traveled to almost every state in America in my wheelchair, I have been to areas where accessibility was amazing and areas where I said to myself, “This was the worst idea ever.” Here’s a few things I have learned from my travel experiences.
The first is that you can travel anywhere you want to. The challenge is once you are there, will the place or activity you want to do be ADA accessible? Most of you know that in the United States we have the ADA. This is a law that protects for equal rights for individuals who have disabilities and use mobility products. ADA accessibility is great in bigger and more progressive areas and cities.
The most accessible place I have ever traveled to would be Las Vegas, Nevada and the surrounding area. I usually go once or twice a year to visit our facility out in North Las Vegas and see some friends. According to most people, Vegas is the casino and gambling capital of the world. Where most people go to gamble, I go for accessibility. Casinos mostly cater to older and retired individuals. A lot of these people have either trouble walking or use some type of mobility product.
What makes Vegas so accessible? The attention to detail regarding the ADA and the availability of ADA services. When I land at the airport, I wait for a cab. Vegas has a ton of accessible cabs driving around. There is almost always an accessible cab, either in the valet line at any hotel or on the strip at any given time. If not, the Valet guys call in for one and usually only takes five or ten minutes depending on traffic and time of day. The hotel rooms are very accessible, and hotels don’t just offer a grab bar on the wall or a walk-in shower. Most hotels you can ask for rooms with Hoyer lifts that go from the bathrooms to the bedrooms to assist you with getting into bed. The staff in Vegas are very used to accommodating individuals with disabilities because a lot of people vacation in their hotels. This forces the staff to become more familiar with individuals with disabilities and with that, they gain a lot of experience.
If traveling out of the country, please do your homework when traveling anywhere, whether it’s all inclusive or a resort. Go on the internet, call places and ask friends and family if they have ever traveled to where you are planning to go. Remember, the ADA does not follow you out of the country. I went on a trip to the Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive resort with five of my high school friends. Our group has gone on trips before together and there is nothing I dislike more than the group planning an event or activity, especially when I can’t participate or one of my buddies has to piggyback or carry me around. On this trip we all did our homework, and we even hired a travel agent who called the resort to make sure it was accessible. The pictures showed no steps in a lot of places. But we were told there would be ramps. In reality, it was an absolute nightmare. There were four steps into the lobby for check in. There were six steps to our villa. They ended up putting all of us in different rooms and put me on the ground floor. They had no pool lifts. There were steps to get everywhere and the resort was on the side of a mountain. I couldn’t even go in the restaurants.
Another example are cruises. The cruise ships are accessible to meet ADA standards. Yet, once you get to that island or destination, you may be limited to what activities you can do or where you can go. When traveling anywhere, especially when you are going to be spending your hard-earned money, you don’t need the added stress of missing out on activities or experiences. Please do your research and remember you can go anywhere, but planning is the key.
About Josh McDermott: Josh McDermott is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. He is a public speaker and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Josh lives in New York and loves to travel. Click here to learn more about Josh.