Report from the Road (Part 2) - Working Vacation - September 2012 Newsletter

Hello fellow travelers!  Last month in our Report from the Road, I told a few stories from our most recent trip.  This month I’ll describe the actual process of our accessibility research and why we spend the time doing the first-hand research that we do.

Report from the Road Part 2 – Working Vacation
At the core of our business is first-hand accessibility research such as the 12 day cruise we took last month.  While some of my friends think it’s nice that I can get my vacations paid for, the truth is that our trips are far more work than they are vacations! Listed below are a few of the ways that we go about making accessible travel easy on these Working Vacations.

We go the extra step so you don’t have to.
To provide accurate accessibility information, the most reliable method is if I visit the location in my wheelchair and test out the accessibility myself.  Too often, I hear about people being told by a hotel receptionist that the hotel is accessible only to find out that there is a step at the entrance or the elevator is too narrow for a wheelchair.  On our most recent cruise, we chose to not be tourists in Rome or Athens (we had visited both those cities in the last 2 years) and spent both days on shore visiting hotels.  We tried to visit about 10 hotels in each city, only to find out that around half of them didn’t even meet our basic 3 Star Sage Accessibility rating! (3 star is the lowest rating that is “step-free”.)  Although the days were long in the August heat, by doing the research first hand we were able to find several accessible hotels in great locations in both cities.

Avoid staying in this
The only entrance to your “accessible” hotel is a
sloping ramp with steps?  Really?!?

Camera in hand, we gather the most detailed accessibility information possible. 
While there is a lot of accessibility information available on the internet, much of it is too vague to be useful.  For example, I had read numerous reports that the ruins at Ephesus were “not wheelchair friendly”.  I’m pretty good at maneuvering my manual wheelchair, so I didn’t know if this meant I could or could not do it.  Were they like the uneven ground on top of the Acopolis in Athens (I can do it) or were they like the Palatine Hill in Rome (I can’t do it)?  We decided that no matter what, I was going to give it a shot.  I’m pleased to report that I did make it all the way through the ruins but just barely. It was very challenging and many wheelchair users would view parts of it as dangerous. My whole detailed write-up will be published on in the next few months, but for now you can view this video of me and my wheelchair in Ephesus.

Like Magellan with a wheelchair, we push the boundaries.
Perhaps my favorite part of taking a Sage Traveling research trip is expanding the list of accessible travel options for people with disabilities.  Nowhere was this more evident than in Pompeii.  With the help of our local guide, we were actually able to re-route the Circumvesuviana train to a different platform so that I could avoid tunnel with stairs under the train tracks.  In all my years of traveling on trains in Europe, it was something that I never knew could be done!  Details about what needs to be requested and what your best options are for shore excursions in Naples will be posted on the website later this year.

Pompeii Train Station
The Circumvesuviana train can be re-routed at the
Pompeii train station to avoid the tunnel with stairs.

We were very successful gathering detailed accessibility information on this trip and will continue to take more trips in the future to do the same.  Look for lots of new accessibility information on in the coming months!

Next month: Part 3 – Planning Ahead for Success

We’ve spent thousands of hours researching accessibility across Europe.  If you’d like us to help plan your trip, please email Donna at
Travel Wisely,

John Sage, Founder and President of Sage Traveling

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