The Extra Mile
I'm in a wheelchair. What are my best choices for an overseas holiday?
Jessica Evans shares some practical advice for planning a wheelchair-friendly getaway
Q. We would love to travel more. We have been on several overseas holidays in the past but recently my wife has been confined to a wheelchair. She can get around but is very limited.
We are currently booked on a cruise to India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. However, are there any other trips you could suggest that both of us can enjoy? - Shireen Subramony
A. You are definitely on the right track, having booked a cruise. Cruise ships are kitted with ramps for entering and exiting the ship and you can move from deck to deck via the wealth of elevators.
They are also bursting with staff who, in my experience, are ever-eager to assist in whatever way is necessary, so, keep cruises in mind for upcoming travel options.
Airlines are also very accommodating. The true limit to your travel is the destination, or the stops along the way.Sri Lanka is a good destination for those having to travel with a wheelchair, particularly in the drier months between January and April. Trains are the best mode of transport there in terms of accessibility and busy-ness.
India has a few wheelchair-friendly destinations including Kerala, Agra and Delhi, all of which offer authentic tourist experiences and sites such as the Taj Mahal and the Qutb Minar.
The Maldives are also relatively accessible because of its flat topography and level walkways and beach days and sunset cruises are accessible to everyone.Some wheelchair-friendly countries to keep in mind for future travel are the United States, Australia, Israel, United Arab Emirates and parts of Europe.
Naturally the degree of accessibility in each of these destinations varies regionally and you may need to make some calls to organise special arrangements.
Some notably wheelchair-friendly cities include Tel Aviv, Berlin, Milan, Tuscany, Denver, Seattle, Barcelona and Sydney, which even have awards for their accessibility.In South Africa, Access2Africa Safaris specialises in wheelchair-friendly and accessible tours, safaris and travel for the disabled, handicapped and mobility impaired, including deaf (hearing impaired) and blind (visually impaired) guests.
It is important to remember that, with any wheelchair-bound travel, you should make arrangements for assistance at both airports and destinations.
Some websites to remember include safariguideafrica.com, which provides comprehensive advice that need not only apply to safaris, because it also explores tips on how to travel with equipment, and on how to choose the best accommodation.
Worldonwheelz.com specialises in wheelchair travel in many countries and helps out with both independent travel and group travel. Curbfreewithcorylee.com provides travel tips for wheelchair users as well as some lists on the most accessible destinations.
Many tour options are not explicitly accessible to the differently-abled but staff are more often than not experienced and willing to help if you make arrangements far enough in advance.