Traveling with Special Needs
Sometimes we take for granted the aspects that go into planning a trip for those who have special needs. I love serving these travelers and loved ones. It is my absolute joy to do everything I can to ensure that they have an amazing vacation. Whether one’s needs are major or minor, they are important.
I personally have physical limitations related to an autoimmune condition and have to take good care of myself when traveling. For instance, when my condition is active and I’m on certain medications, I request a wheelchair in the airports to conserve my energy, and I am selective about the locations and features of my hotel room.
Having an eye towards a traveler’s particular needs are critically important to me. Two opportunities I’ve had to do this come to mind.
Recently, we planned an itinerary for a family heading to South America. They were a family of four, and one of their daughters has autism. When traveling with children who have special needs, the most desirable way to go is with private or small-group tours. For autism, we wanted to keep the environmental stimulation as low-key and controlled as possible. Flexibility is also paramount. Everything that went into planning their itinerary kept their particular comforts and needs as a family in mind.
Last year, we planned a Spanish vacation for a couple and their elderly parents. This was to be a special trip, perhaps the last big vacation for the older folks before it became too difficult to travel. All three parents use walkers. The goal was to arrange an itinerary for the family that was cultural, beautiful, and fun while still being accessible and uber-flexible.
First, we found them villas in both destination cities (Madrid and Barcelona) where they could all stay together in a multi-bedroom apartment. Many travel agents will not book homes because of the risks of cancellation and the risks with quality. But when it makes the most sense, I do my best to serve my clients’ needs and desires. In this case, it was exactly what they needed. They all had their own bedrooms, and I picked apartments that provided the parents with walk-in showers (no big step over a bathtub).
For their touring itinerary, they had private tour guides and transportation that allowed them to start and stop whenever they needed. They could take breaks. They could divert the itinerary or revisit something they wanted to see again. Their vehicle was a van that accommodated all five of them along with the walkers. The stops along the tour were the accessible ones, leaving out any places with uneven terrain. We also had the contact info of a scooter rental company ready to go, just in case the folks decided they wanted to stroll through the park without having to worry about getting too fatigued. Finally, they had a car for hire available for them when not touring. This way they could get around without having to worry about vehicle capacity. (Taxis just aren’t practical when you have 5 people and 3 walkers!) The trip was a hit and all they hoped it would be.
There is nothing that I love more about my role as a travel advisor than having the opportunity to make travel accessible to those who typically have to jump over hurdles. It’s a joy to take the hassle and burden out of this kind of planning. From beach wheelchairs and heavy duty scooters to walkers and bed lifts, I am fortunate to have access to some great rental suppliers. Whatever the circumstance, GlobeSage is uniquely sensitive to the needs of those with various kinds of disabilities and limitations.