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Traveling with Special Needs

By Bob Kocher

January 3, 2020

 

Dear Friends,

I hope your new year is off to a great start.  This week's blog is about the travel industries improving stance and advocacy for those of us with Special Needs.  
 
Virtually all travel suppliers, hotels, airlines, cruise companies and tour operators are taking care to support this growing client base.  Of course, Baby Boomers are a major contributor and other age groups are too for different reasons. Here is some information to help you with making decisions about what, where and how to help get needs met.
 
  • Airlines
     The airlines have been pioneers in working with all types of special needs assistance.  For many years they have offered food choices, now mostly on long hauls and international flights.  When booking your own air, be sure to look for the ADA or special needs link as you are booking and fill in the required information.
     Mobility Devices:  The airlines make provisions for passengers with mobility issues and there is no cost to do so.  This is true for wheelchairs and scooters alike.  In 2019, I had full knee replacement surgery.  The two years before I had the surgery, I was having a very difficult time walking.  Someone suggested that I rent a mobility scooter for a long cruise, so I did.  I found out that there was no fee to fly the scooter and that assistance at the airports was exceptional.  The rental proved to be 2/3 the cost of purchasing, so I decided to take the step and bought a Pride Go Go Sport.  I can ride the scooter to the front door of the aircraft where the crew helps disassemble it and they have it ready for me when I reached my destination.  This is particularly helpful when I don't have a non-stop flight.  The scooter has been to Europe three times and on over 20 flights with no damage.  Be sure to get to the airport at least 1/2 an hour earlier than recommended to allow time for assistance. 
 
  • Cruises
    Cruise lines are getting better every year at accommodating special needs passengers.  Food allergies, sensitivities and vegetarian choices are well taken care of.  Be sure to advise your travel professional or cruise line representative before you travel so that your requirements are in your record.  These days ships have multiple dining options and your needs will appear in their computer system throughout your time on board even if you eat somewhere different every night.  
    Cruise lines also provide ADA cabins.  As a general rule, they are more spacious and have large shower areas.  Shower chairs or benches can also be provided.  They are available whether shopping inside-oceanview-balcony or suite.
 
  • Tours
    Most tour operators worldwide have buses that accommodate special needs travelers.  Again, it is important for you to pass along your needs to your travel professional or vendor.  Hotels worldwide have ADA rooms which your travel professional and tour escorts can coordinate for you.  Proactive communication with your guide about your needs will set you up for success on your journey.
 
In This Life Travel is a SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate.  Beth Denham LVN is the Company Special Needs Manager.  She can be contacted by email,   Whether on a group trip or individual travel  arrangements, let us know what you need and we are happy to help.   
 
For more information, go to the ADA.gov home page.  And as always, travel safe and TravelSober.