Enabling Wheelchair Users to Enjoy Vacation

by Jackie Edwards, guest blogger, and former tour guide, is a hiking, camping and outdoor enthusiast.

Across the world, up to 650 million are estimated to have physical disabilities. Of those, approximately 10% require the use of a wheelchair.  These statistics, from the World Health Organization, show that no small amount of people require mobility aids.  Having dependencies shouldn’t preclude someone from enjoying a vacation abroad.  Least of all, one where a positive impact is made on the world.

Understanding the services

Some of the most popular destinations for eco-tourism may be perceived as unfriendly to those with mobility needs.  Costa Rica, for example, is renowned for its jungle covering 35% of the area. Islands such as Hawaii and the Galapagos have dramatic, yet rugged terrain.  Travel providers and government tourism bureaus are increasing working on ways to add accessibility options.  Especially to make natural attractions wheelchair-oriented.  Yet even in places where strides have been made, the challenge for travelers is often finding such paths.

The little things

Local experts and review sites can bring much needed help.  For instance, several resorts in the Caribbean are now providing specially adapted beach wheelchairs, which recently gained headlines in the UK’s Guardian Newspaper.  In Beijing, the Forbidden City is no longer a forbidding environment for disabled visitors.  The local government has added groundwork to aid impediments.

Keeping up demand

While the tourism industry is trending towards accessibility requirements, many parts of its infrastructure are a mixed bag.  Keeping up the pressure by advocating awareness while requesting safe-path alternatives for those with special needs, is a way to achieve change. Ultimately, the hospitality industry is there to be hospitable.  In many countries, being wheelchair-friendly will even be legislated as demand grows. Until then, arrangements can often be made by those who ask.  This increases the importance of finding solutions that make mindful travel exploration a reality for all.

Enjoying a vacation is absolutely possible even in areas where adventure and accessibility seem paradoxical.  The ambition to explore new places will overcome hurdles and inspire even more travelers with disabilities to blaze trails that will benefit all.