Becoming tired of the everyday routine? Have an itch to travel? Whether you are able-bodied or disabled, we all have varying degrees of a spirit of adventure. Problem is adventure means coping with unknown challenges and that, in and of itself is a challenge. If you are or know an individual who is disabled, the challenges seem overpowering—overpowering to the point where you (your family, friends or attendants) can easily convince yourself that it cannot be done, even before you start.
The good news is travelling for the disabled IS possible, and is getting easier year by year as the travel industry becomes aware of the potential benefits of servicing the aging baby-boomers and by extension the disabled community.
How to start? Dive in at the deep end and choose your destination. Even if you acquire a travel consultant (some even specialize in services for the disabled), use the Internet and the public library to find the information you need.
For ‘first times’, plan a test run. Choose a destination that is close by, easy to get to, and arrange an able-bodied individual to accompany you. Plan to spend a couple of nights. With this approach, you can test your powers of coping with different situations—transportation, sleeping accommodation, meals and extra curricular activities! You’ll come away with great memories, a sense of accomplishment, and a list of ‘next time I’ll remember to take, ask these questions beforehand, and/or do something differently. And, not to forget… ‘I really want to try this next’!
Remember, planning your travel is half the fun!
Here is a tale of adventure you may not believe, but it is true! I’ve titled it, “Is there an elevator up here I don’t know about?”
The year was 2000, the month was October, the location was Greece, the historic site… the Acropolis. Yes, you read that right… the Acropolis! We had just climbed to the top of the world… at least, the heavens as known to Greece in olden times. We drew in the rarified air of Athena with the other gods and goddesses while surveying the vista of Athens and beyond. While we gazed at the archeological ruins in awe, an American tourist came up and posed the question, “Is there an elevator up here I don’t know about?” Needless to say, we rolled our eyes!
I had come prepared to stay below—with more than one book in my knapsack—to pass the time while my sister, brother-in-law and niece explored the ancient buildings in the sky. My brother-in-law and sister however, insisted they were in good enough shape to get me and the chair to the top. Who was I to argue? I couldn’t, wouldn’t lie, I really did want to go up to the sky, take in the vista, and imagine it as it was populated five centuries ago.
If we were standing in the same spot today and that tourist asked the same question, I would be able to say, “Yes.” As part of their commitment to the 2004 Olympics, there is now an elevator that one can use to ascend to the heights of the Parthenon.
If Greece is your destination (I highly recommend it for its climate beauty, diversity, and heritage /archeological sites). We were there for about a month in the fall and spent time on Corfu, Crete, and Nafplion, Athens, and other cities. At that time accessibility was iffy… I definitely needed able-bodied assistance and I suspect it is still so today, but accessibility was to improve with the advent of the Olympics in 2004. With the discussions available now on the Internet, you have a much more information with which to plan your trip than we did.