Wheelchair accessible vacations

Even though wheelchair users only make up a small percentage of people with disabilities, when tourism operators talk about accessibility it tends to be that wheelchair access is what they have in mind. And it’s true that, from a logistical perspective, this is the most visible disability and one of the easiest areas for tourism providers to see what needs doing and get improvements right. Not that they always do of course, but it’s getting better.
In years gone by wheelchair travelers were pretty limited in their choices when it came to vacations. They also had to deal with a worryingly cavalier approach to customer service and care of essential equipment when traveling by air. Again, things are still not perfect in this area but we think there have been substantial improvements over the last few years.
However what we really love is the incredible diversity of wheelchair accessible vacations that we are now able to offer: African safaris; Antarctica, Alaska and Nile cruises; horse riding in Spain; cultural tours of Japan, India and South Africa. All destinations and activities that not so long ago might have seemed off-limits but which have been opened up in large part thanks to the efforts and activism of trailblazing wheelchair travelers.


Most of our wheelchair accessible tours are tailor made. That gives you greater freedom not only when it comes to selecting your dates of travel, but crucially in crafting itineraries around the places that interest you, and avoiding places and activities that are likely to prove too much of a challenge, or where accessibility cannot be guaranteed.

If you’re bringing your own wheelchair, do keep in mind that access to electricity and spare parts can be irregular in some places. If it is a suitable option for you, then the tour operator may be able to arrange for you to hire one in the destination, saving you the hassle, cost and risk of flying with your own.


There’s no shortage of horror stories around from people who have discovered to their dismay that what was sold to them before departure as an accessible accommodation turned out to be very far from it when they actually arrive. Our wheelchair accessible vacations give you the confidence that you will be staying in rooms that have either been designed expressly with wheelchair users in mind, or purposely adapted with widened doorframes and spacious, fully equipped bathrooms.
You can book ground floor rooms and accommodation with lifts so that you can access facilities easily. Some tours, such as African safaris, do present more of a challenge, but there are increasing numbers of safari lodges that are now suitable for wheelchair users, and bush camps where tents are grouped close together.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Accessible travel or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Our travel team is always happy to discuss your particular requirements when it comes to accessibility. If we know early in the process exactly what you need then through communication with suppliers we can make appropriate vacation recommendations, and ensure that every aspect of your trip will meet your needs, from accommodation to meals and support.


In many cases you will also be able to arrange additional support in-resort if you feel you need it. That might include door-to-door transfers throughout your itinerary, the use of private vehicles and driver-guides in destinations such as Japan or Cuba; vehicles with hand controls for self-drive tours of South Africa, and booking porters to carry you on a throne chair if you want to see the mountain gorillas of Rwanda.
In some destinations, such as Japan, you can expect to receive comprehensive pre-tour information covering everything you need to get around on your own, including the precise location of accessible lifts in train stations, what to say if you need assistance from staff or passers-by, and which temples feature wheelchair ramps. On cruises of Antarctica and the Nile, you will have lifts between floors on the vessel, and trained staff members available to help you on and off the ship for shore excursions. On African safaris you may be lifted by rangers into and out of jeeps or canoes, and stay in lodges where massages are offered to soothe aching limbs after long, juddering game drives. In every instance, with enough notice, vacation companies should be happy to explain how they can help with any specific requirements you have.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Topbox: Mike Baird]