I have always wanted to be a world citizen. Many places that I want to experience are not wheelchair friendly for reasons such as lack of paved roads, elevators, or modern technology and civilization. In any case, there is still a plethora of locales that I can make plans to visit, until I figure out a way to travel comfortably off the beaten path. At the beginning of my research, I considered utilizing a travel agency. Many people have forgotten or never consider a travel agent. While looking around and making a few inquiries, I came upon a huge number of resources for disabled persons such as myself. There are literally hundreds of travel agents and agencies that cater to people at ALL different levels of special needs. As a result, I had several initial questions to answer before I even plotted a course on my journey to globe-trotting.
Here are some of the considerations:
1. Do I want to go with an agent? After all, the experience is more personalized.
2. Would I like to work with someone local, and/or in person? Would someone internet based be more convenient?
3. Should I look for someone who just specializes in one particular place, continent, or country?
4. Do I want to travel with a friend or two or in a larger group?
5. Is this going to be a lounging, laid back jaunt or an adventure that would make Carmen San Diego ask where in the world is Merlisha? The questions go on and on for a while. I can go back to the planning process later.
I just want to daydream for a while about the places I can go. Let’s start with London, England. Although one might think that it would be easy to get around, there are still a great many cobblestone streets and very small and tight spaces that are hundreds of years old. In comparison to many other European cities, London ranks as one of the best. Every taxi in London has a wheelchair ramp. That is unbelievable! Most tourist attractions are accessible to wheelchair users due to UK disability access building codes.
The majority of London’s landscaping is extremely flat which makes getting around in a wheelchair relatively easy. Score one for a terrain with almost no hills! When you think of England, there are so many wonderful places to add to your bucket list such as:
- Buckingham Palace
- London Bridge
- Big Ben
- Tower of London
- Hyde Park
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
Those are just some of England’s most incredible places to visit.
Another incredible place to visit is India. Tourist spots there include:
- The grand Taj Mahal
- Amber Palace
- Qutub Minar Tower (the tallest minaret in the world made of bricks)
- Hawa Mahal (palace of the winds)
I often wondered what accessibility is like in India. Although many places there are not structurally updated, there are many accommodating people there that are almost always ready to assist. Did you know that India is the 2nd largest English speaking country after the U.S.? Just about wherever you go, you will be able to find someone who can understand and help you find the accessibility you need. India is one of the world’s most technological and economically growing countries. It is becoming increasingly easier to get the accommodations you need for a great trip.
Another exciting place to visit on my short bucket list is Africa. I could travel through Africa for five years straight and never see the same thing or place twice. There are whole continents and also island paradises. Country get aways or excitingly active cityscapes in every direction on the compass. The most important concept to keep in mind is research. This could mean the difference between the adventure of a lifetime or the 24th annual village goat races and longest beard competition.
To help you (and me for that matter) in your upcoming excursion, here are a few disability based travel agents to help you become a world class wheelchair warrior.
1. Curb Free Travel– This company is ran by an enthusiastic self-described travel junkie Cory Lee and his mom Sandy. Cory is a wheelchair user and has been to 33 countries and 6 continents. You can reach Cory and company at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Disabled Accessible Travel– The leading access ability travel company for all of Europe. The best way to take advantage of all of their services is through their website disabledaccessibletravel.com
3. Spin the Globe Travel– This is another company run by a full time wheelchair user. This is a more boutique agency that provides custom and very personalized trips. The owner Sylvia Longmire works with every client to provide a trip with great accommodations and activities for wheelchair users. Find them at spintheglobe.net
4. Easy Access Travel– This company provides first-hand experience as its owner Debra Kerger is a bilateral amputee. Easy Access also is a great agency for mature travelers. Look them up at easyaccesstravel.com
5. Wheelchair Escapes– Run by Kristy Lacroix, Wheelchair Escapes boasts over 20 years of travel experience. These are the folks you call on when you really, really are looking for cruise specialists. Kristy and company can be found at wheelchairescapes.com.
While writing this blog about travel, I’ve discovered that the planning is as much fun as the trip (almost). I learned a lot about traveling from a disability perspective. Now, I feel emboldened by the great number of resources and people who are out and about all around the world. Don’t take my word for it, do a little digging of your own and you will find some extraordinary places and also extraordinary people that will help complete your travel adventures.
About Merlisha Henderson: Merlisha lives in Arizona with her family. As a wife, mother and disability advocate in her community, she stays active and independent, working toward bringing equality and access to all. Click here to learn more about Merlisha.