On its own, travel requires a lot of research, planning and preparation. When an intrepid traveler lives with a disability or has limited mobility, the complexity of travel increases. Sometimes even the best-laid plans fall to pieces, but with added preparation, you can take flight on your next adventure with the aid of specialty travel companies and useful travel accessories and devices. GOBankingRates has rounded up some of the highest-rated products and travel agencies designed for making the lives of travelers with disabilities more accessible.
Autour, meaning “around” in French, is a free, hands-free iPhone app developed at Montreal’s McGill University to help visually impaired individuals. Designed to give blind users a better sense of their surroundings, Autour is so much more than a GPS device. The technology uses spatialized audio to reveal places of interest and visual cues such as neon signs to users. Once users approach a point of interest, the name is said out loud and users can make their own informed decisions about their surroundings and where to head next.
Travel confidently with brettapproved, which is partly a user-generated accessible travel website with reviews and rates for hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues in many destinations, and also partly a travel company. The community is designed to share relevant information so those with a physical disability or mobility challenge can travel with confidence. Detailed user-submitted content is then given a brettscore, or a numerical value, that reflects its accessibility.
For those whose mobility depends on a set of wheels, stairs and steps no longer have to be a challenging roadblock. Drive Medical is the manufacturer of portable wheelchair/scooter ramps that make all structures wheelchair accessible. At 2 feet long and 30 inches wide, Amazon sells the $87.95 steel ramp that can accommodate up to 600 pounds. For individuals who need a little more runway, Drive Medical makes the same ramp in multiple sizes. All products come with a carrying handle and travel bag for accessibility on the go.
GO! Mobility Solutions
Rick Goldstein felt like a prisoner in his own home because the marketplace of travel and portable shower/toilet accessible wheelchairs was severely limited. Goldstein took matters into his own hands and GO! Mobility Solutions was born. The company’s everyday and travel wheelchair product line ranges from a $174 tub bench to a $2,145 commode and shower chair with wheels. The GO-Anywhere Sport meets FAA regulations for storage onboard an aircraft.
Hammer Travel is a travel agency that curates all-inclusive domestic trips for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The company aims to strike a balance of fun and exploration while allowing its tour-goers downtime to enjoy and relax at each activity while maintaining all medication times and balanced meals. For the upcoming year, the company is offering a wide range of trips for every budget. Prices extend from $650 for a three-day tour of Duluth, Minnesota’s Bentleyville Christmas Lights Holiday Village to a six-day adventure in the Aloha State of Hawaii for $3,675.
Since 1985, New Directions has taken over 18,000 people with disabilities on tours around the world. The nonprofit is dedicated to “providing leisure and educational travel opportunities for adults who have mild to moderate intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and autism,” according to the organization’s website. All trips include tour guides who have been trained to work with individuals with disabilities. They lead groups in activities like skiing, river rafting and surfing through destinations across the U.S. and abroad like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and beyond.
The company’s mission is to subsidize its tours, so all of the tourists receive the same quality experience at a reduced rate. The 2019-20 tour calendar is live, and available trips range in price from $1,550 for a four-day Disneyland and California adventure to $4,710 for a six-day tour of Montreal, Canada.
OrCam MyEye 2
Touted as the “most advanced wearable assistive technology device for the blind and visually impaired, that reads text, recognizes faces, identifies products and more,” the OrCam MyEye 2 responds to voice commands, simple hand gestures and doesn’t need an internet connection. The device magnetically attaches to the stem of any pair of eyeglasses, and the user simply has to point to any object they want to read. The device captures the image and immediately reads it back into the person’s ear. This could mean a dramatic lifestyle change for a visually impaired person and could be a particular advantage while traveling outside of one’s comfort zone while on unfamiliar roads or dining in new restaurants.
Phoenix Instinct is designed for travelers who refuse to be sidelined by cumbersome baggage while using a wheelchair. Priced at $379, the Phoenix Instinct Wheelchair Luggage two-bag system is great for traveling efficiently — one bag seamlessly attaches to the back of a wheelchair and tows behind, and the companion rucksack easily attaches itself to the outside of the larger bag. The twin set has a total capacity of 118 liters.
Planet Abled provides accessible travel solutions and leisure excursions for people with mobility impairments, vision impairment, hearing and speech impairment, people with intellectual disabilities and senior citizens, according to its company website. Much like the destinations it services, the travel possibilities with Planet Abled are limitless and the company can arrange group and private tours, including airport pickups and medical support staff, as well as tours for honeymooners, families and solo travelers. While the option stands for total vacation customization, all 35 of Planet Abled’s destination packages include Indian exploration on both land and sea with tours to majestic sights like the Taj Mahal, Hindu temples and the Himalayas.
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Disclaimer: Prices for products and travel packages are subject to change.