Howdy, all! Today on Disabled Travelers we’ll be looking at resources that can be of use no matter where you’re headed. Nothing beats good access guides if you already know where you’re going, but there’s got to be tools out there on the Internet you can rely on for planning accessible travel no matter where you’re headed, right? Well, that’s the theory, anyway – so let’s see what we can find.
Airlines are an indispensable part of countless trips every year, and I’ve been on the lookout for some good general resources on flying since this classic post on Canada so long ago. Luckily, there’s now a solution: Flying With Disability is a great site all about handicapped travel in the air. It gives you plenty of information on planning a trip, working with airlines, navigating the airport, and knowing your rights. A great place to consult to find out more about flying safely and comfortably.
There are thousands of handicapped organizations that can help you find out more about the level of accessibility at your destination, but sorting through all of them and finding the one you need has always been a challenge. Now, Mobility International USA, a nonprofit devoted to mobility impaired access, has provided the answer. Their searchable database of handicapped organizations worldwide provides amazing results sorted by country, region, or even disability. From there, you can get in touch with someone who cares and find out exactly what you need from the people who know.
Some disabled travel resources are really hidden in plain sight; they weren’t exactly intended for our purposes, but they’re still fantastic if you know how to use them well. Here’s one good example: HealthMap is a site I mentioned earlier while discussing swine flu in Mexico. But it gets better, since you can use it to track a whole variety of health concerns as they move around the world. Travel can be trying enough without any other health complications, so look before you leap! (This also goes for the weather forecast, though we all know how quickly that can change!)
Now I’d like to share one of my favorite websites of the last few years: WalkScore. Let’s face it: not all of us can drive and some of those who can don’t care to. WalkScore can take any address and tell you how car-dependent the area is. And that “walkability” score also includes wheelchair accessible features like ramps and cut-outs, though it’s a rough estimate. As a concept, walkability is often highly correlated with a strong public transportation system, which is always helpful, and often accessible.
To close, Travelsense has a great article that even covers information on traveling with a service dog: “Have Disability, Will Travel.” Looking for tour operators or travel agents? Try Tripology, whose searchable database includes a checkbox for services catering specifically to disabled travelers. Next time, I’ll be talking a bit more about airlines and getting around in the sky. After that, who knows? But I know I’ve got a trip to Japan planned a little later in the year, so maybe we’ll swing by and check things out. Until then, adventure on!