10 Things You Should Know Before Your Accessible European Holiday

Traveling to Europe can be overwhelming, especially when you have particular accessibility needs that must be met. Preparation and planning is the key to making yourself a smarter and more relaxed traveler, allowing you to just sit back and enjoy the fun ride! 
In this month’s newsletter, I’m going to share 10 Things You Should Know Before Your Accessible European Holiday. The more you know beforehand, the more realistic your expectations will be. Throughout my many trips to Europe, I have learned that having a good attitude, being flexible and open to adventure, allows me to relax and enjoy more. 
Our client Sylvia exploring Dublin!
10 Things You Should Know Before Your Accessible European Holiday
1. If Europe Isn’t Already Your Home, Don’t Expect Things To Be Like Home. This is a big one! While almost all our feedback from clients is positive, we do occasionally get some complaints that “the hotel did not live up to US standards” or the “lift at the hotel was on the smaller side” etc. It is important to remember, that many European cities are very old, and many hotels are housed in old historic buildings that have been turned into hotels. The hallways, rooms and bathrooms tend to be on the smaller side, especially in cities such as Paris, Rome and Florence.
Accessible bathroom at one of our Florence hotels
2. Accessibility Standards Are Different All Over The World. The ADA standards valid in the United States do not apply worldwide. For accessible vehicles, this means that while you may be used to certain rules about tie downs for your mobility equipment, in some places, you will experience a fully licensed and accessible vehicle without any tie downs (as there is no legislation on this in the particular destination). You may also experience that a hotel categorizes itself as an accessible hotel, only to find that there are steps at the main entrance, no grab bars in the bathroom and no turning space in the accessible room. The best way to avoid these issues with this is to book your accessible European accommodation through an accessible travel specialist who has researched and inspected the hotel for you to guarantee the accessibility.
3. Make Accessible Reservations (far) in Advance. Don’t gamble with something that could potentially ruin your whole vacation. Making your accessible travel reservations (hotel, tours and transfers) far in advance, especially during peak travel season, is the best way to make sure that your trip goes the way you want to, and that you won’t have to “settle” for something not ideal for you and your accessibility needs. The more you have planned beforehand, the less you’ll have to stress about things during your vacation.
4. Build A Cushion Into Your Budget. I know that for most travelers budget is a big concern. Even the most budget-conscious travelers struggle with spending on trips. However, for many, their European holiday is a once in a lifetime experience.  It’s almost impossible to account for all the various scenarios in which you may incur extra cost. Don’t let that destroy your mood or vacation as you are traveling. Go ahead and add a decent cushion when planning and realize the likelihood with which you may go over.
5. Just Because Someone Told You It Isn’t Accessible, Doesn’t Mean It’s True. Have you seen photos of ancient European ruins and thought to yourself “there is no way I can do that in my wheelchair!”… I get it. However, don’t let that stop you from looking into accessible tour options. You may not be able to experience 100% of the sites but what if I told you CAN indeed experience fascinating places such as the ruins of Pompeii, the top of the Acropolis, the old Roman Forum and the breathtaking Sagrada Familia Church in a wheelchair? I have!  Make sure you book your accessible guided tours through a specialized accessible travel expert who uses professional guides with experience touring with disabled visitors along wheelchair friendly routes.
One of our wonderful clients using the lift at the Acropolis with special permission arranged by Sage Traveling.
6. Always Pay in Local Currency. Yes! Always pay in the local currency of the country you’re in. In many places, vendors will try to convince you to pay in US Dollars or Euros/Pounds. This is in fact a rip-off! The stores will then charge a higher exchange fee than your bank back home does, ending up costing you more money.
7. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew. The urge to see and do everything while you’re abroad is something I can relate to. However, you don’t want to spend most of your vacation in transit and completely worn out. Find an itinerary that works with your energy level and accessibility needs. By allowing your body sufficient time for sleep and adequate rest between activities, you’ll find that you’ve had a more fulfilling experience.
8. Bring Proof of Disability. In several places, especially in Italy and Greece, guides and drivers will be able to take you up close to the attractions in their accessible vehicles if you bring proof of your disability. Also, several museums and attractions throughout Europe offer free or reduced entrance fees for disabled visitors (and in some cases one companion). It’s definitely worth reaping the benefits of bringing your Physician’s Letter, Disabled Driving Placard or Official Disability Card (whichever is applicable).


9. Call your Credit Card Company BEFORE You Leave. One of the most stressful things that could happen when you’re abroad is that your access to funds is suddenly cut. If you don’t call your credit card company before traveling, there is a chance that their security department will freeze your account once they notice transactions made abroad. An easy way to avoid issues with this is to go ahead and let them know that you will be traveling so they can make note of it.
10. Have Fun! Don’t sweat the little things. In the scheme of things, those won’t matter once you return home. Don’t let small glitches destroy your day(s). Prepare well, get excited and focus on the good things. If you book your accessible holiday with Sage Traveling, you will automatically get access to our 24-7 Emergency Assistance. Our team of accessible travel planners will be able to help with any accessibility emergencies that may occur during your trip, giving you more peace of mind!
Did you Know?
I highly recommend doing research before you leave for Europe so you’ll know what to expect. Read about your destination(s), learn about accessibility, look at maps, learn some of the local language etc.  That’s why, when you book your full trip with Sage Traveling, you’ll receive a Sage Accessibility Guide (written by me), with detailed maps, attraction reviews and accessibility details,travel tips and much more. 
A short presentation of the Sage Traveling Rome Accessibility Guide


Contact us today to start planning your memorable accessible European Holiday!
Travel Wisely,
John Sage, Founder and President of Sage Traveling



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