A man camps in wheelchair at Mt. White in California, USA.

Travel: it’s educational, exhilarating…and, at times, exhausting. If your travel plans are affected by accessibility—whether you use a walker, cane or wheelchair—we’ve gathered our favourite travel planning tips for wheelchair travellers to help your trip go smoothly.

Don’t let logistics overwhelm you or dictate your destination. Decide where you want to go, then learn how to make it work. Almost everything is possible with enough planning. To get the most out of your wheelchair-accessible trip try:

Book directly

Discount websites and aggregators usually include a disclaimer saying that they cannot guarantee specific room types or amenities. To know exactly what room options are available (such as roll-in showers) call the hotel directly as they are usually helpful and have the best information on their property.

The same applies to airlines. Call the airline directly to verify what is available on each aircraft (such as lift up armrests, accessible lavatories). Be sure your equipment is noted on your record as well.

Once you make hotel arrangements and seat requests, get confirmation in writing.

Take a cruise

Many people picture narrow hallways and small cabins when they think of cruises. In fact, modern cruise ships offer spacious cabins and are very accessible. Larger cruise lines offer wheelchair lifts or ramps to make getting on an off the ship easier while in port.

In general, the newer ships are most accessible. Call the cruise line to discuss the specific options available for each ship and cabin type.

Cover your trip

Remember to get a quote to cover your trip with travel insurance. If you experience travel delays, or your equipment or luggage is damaged or lost in transit, travel insurance can help.

Visit Olympic host cities

Once a city has hosted the Olympic Games, they have also hosted the Paralympic Games. This provides accessibility upgrades to streets and venues. Accessibility experts also provide training to local businesses which often has a lasting effect. Many wheelchair travellers have reported improved experiences after a city has hosted the Olympics.

Share information

Tips from other travellers are a great resource for anyone planning a trip, and especially when accessibility information about venues will affect your decisions. There are several apps and websites that are designed to share information about accessibility of businesses and tourist destinations. Some are destination-specific while others such as AXS Map rely on user generated data. Look at product review pages (lots of companies, like us, link to product reviews from their websites) and arm yourself with all the information you can find before taking off.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Rick McCharles; cropped from original