How to Choose an Accessible Travel Agent
There are some important considerations to take into account when choosing an accessible travel agent. This is because many travel agents will claim to specialize in accessible travel but they actually don’t. In reality, they are normal travel agents that find an “accessible” hotel and charge you a big fee.
When choosing an accessible travel agent, you should make sure that they research and provide detailed accessibility information. First, ask them the open ended question “what makes your trip accessible?” If they miss any important aspects of an accessible vacation, don’t use them as a travel agent.
Your accessibility needs will depend on the type of disability that you have but here are some aspects you may want to consider and a good travel agent would mention:
- Accessible hotel room – Are there steps at the entrance? How wide is the elevator? How wide is the bathroom door? Can a wheelchair be rolled into the shower and positioned next to the toilet? Dont trust a travel agent that only tells you they have arranged for an “accessible hotel”….if they can’t give you more details than that, you run the risk of arriving at a hotel that does not meet your needs!
- Getting to the hotel – Will you be taking a normal taxi? A taxi with a wheelchair ramp? An accessible bus? An accessible train?
- Accessibility at the tourist sights – Which museums have steps to enter? Which palaces have no elevator to get upstairs? Which ancient ruins have uneven ground that is too difficult for people with wheelchairs or canes? If the travel agency can not answer these questions for you, you might spend a lot of energy getting to a tourist attraction that you can’t actually visit.
- Getting around the city – How hilly is the city? How prevalent are cobblestones? Are they mild cobblestones or severe cobblestones? How far are the tourist sights from each other? Which Metro stations have elevators? Which bus routes have busses with wheelchair ramps? Where can you find taxis with wheelchair ramps?
If a travel agent does not mention these details from the outset, you will probably encounter some difficulties on their trips.
Some travel agents may trip to sell you their pre-packaged accessible vacations. These are typically the itineraries they normally use with small modifications to make them somewhat accessible. The problem with these trips is that you won’t be able to customize the trip to meet your interests, abilities, and energy level. You may be stuck listening to exhausting local political history or viewing modern art that you have no interest in. Conversely, they may run you in and out of the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa without spending any time to see the amazing Greek sculptures in the adjacent wing. The pace of the daily itinerary might wear you out or may be so slow that you end up sitting in the hotel room for long periods of time. Be sure you use a travel agent that customizes the trip to meet your needs.
Other disabled travel agents are very knowledgeable about planning accessible holidays, but may know very little about the destination you want to visit. Consequently, they won’t be able to make helpful recommendations on what you should do while you’re there. Your best option for selecting a disabled travel agent is to find someone who understands the needs of disabled travelers, can customize the trip, and is knowledgeable about the destination.
If you are interested in traveling to Europe, consider using the European accessible travel agents at SageTraveling.com. Our agents have traveled extensively through Europe and understand the accessibilty challenges you are likely to encounter. We will customize your trip to take into account your particular interests, abilities, and energy level. You will see the sights that you want to see at the pace you want to move at.