Everyone enjoys a relaxing holiday, and as we enter the festive season many of us begin to dream about the perfect getaway.
For some people with disability, concerns about accessibility at new destinations can be daunting, and overshadow the excitement of a much-needed break. The good news is that across Australia, and much of the world, there are hotels, motels, and other forms of accommodation that want to make their facilities accessible to as many people as possible.
As a result, there are a range of amazing options that you can consider for your next adventure.
Holiday planning 101: Finding accommodation
The first step in planning the holiday is, of course, finding the perfect accommodation. Thankfully, there are a number of resources available that are specifically focused on providing great experiences to those with disabilities. Here are just three useful examples:
Have Wheelchair Will Travel – Accessible travel | Travelling with a wheelchair: An Australian website of a family that are sharing their travel tips and experiences of traveling with a wheelchair. As they say about their family – We are a Sydney based family of four trying to find our way around tricky situations so we can do as much as possible, despite a wheelchair being part of our package. The aim of this website is to give some tips on places we’ve found accommodating, wheelchair accessible/friendly and some fun things we found in our travels. This website is about encouraging people to explore the possible. I hope that you will get out there and give it a go!
AccessibleAccommodation.com.au: An Australian-owned website that understands that when it comes to disabilities one “size” does not fit all, Accessible Accommodation aims to make it clear just how right an accommodation option is for you. Each listing on Accessible Accommodation features dozens of different categories that are important from an accessibility point of view. These range from whether the listing offers accessible toilet, shower, and bathing facilities, through to disabled parking, whether it’s open to service dogs, and what kind of Internet and communication services it offers. There’ll be no unpleasant surprises around access when you book through this site!
DisabledHolidays.com: This UK-based website is excellent if you’re booking a holiday anywhere in the UK and has a wide range of destinations abroad to look at as well. The company makes a real effort to audit each accommodation that it lists personally, to check that it meets the standards that people living with a disability need. It provides other services too, such as adapted transfers, mobility equipment hire and flights and airport assistance. Offering all of this while also being highly competitive on price.
5 accommodation ideas for people living with a disability
1. Holiday house
Many holiday houses offer both accessibility and luxurious living. Just like a home away from home, a holiday house is a full-size home that can be rented out for a weekend escape, week-long getaway, or long-term vacation. Accessible holiday houses contain everything you need for a comfortable stay. Spacious rooms, all amenities including Wi-Fi and AC, easy reach lights, wide doorways and bathrooms with handrails, as well as easy on-site access. There are one storey holiday houses such as cottages or cabins, and multi-level holiday with elevator access so you can enjoy the freedom of going up and down levels and enjoy the spectacular views. Wheelchair and disability-approved holiday homes should all come with ramp access and easy access to local attractions.
2. Accessible Apartments
Apartments are usually found in populated areas like capital cities or popular holiday destinations like Queensland’s Gold Coast. Accessible apartments will have elevator access to the floor and level access into the apartment and its living quarters. An apartment with wheelchair access will feature disability access rooms and showers, on-site parking and easy to navigate grounds and surrounding landscaping for ease and comfort. Step-free and barrier-free, disability-friendly apartments can accommodate wheelchair users in all areas of the home.
If you have plans for a luxurious holiday, then a resort may be an accommodation style to keep in mind. Resorts are a full-service lodging facility that is often found on central locations such as on beaches or rainforests. They also often contain on-site activities and restaurants as well as day spa facilities. Accessible resorts are fully wheelchair accessible with rooms and bathrooms fitted with full disability aids. Resorts are a great option for people living with a disability, as they provide all the convenience and entertainment within one place. From 24/7 room service, in-room massage services, indoor pools, and therapeutic spas. They also often come with wheelchair-accessible shuttle services to transport guests to nearby attractions.
There are many cruise ship operators that cater to those with disabilities or requiring wheelchair access. If you love the idea of a holiday out to sea, then a cruise would be a great holiday accommodation option. These cruise ships will provide wheelchair access including wheel-in showers and toilets, hearing facilities, visual aids, wheelchair ramps and grab rails. Some cruise lines will even offer hoists or electric beds to rent. Specially adapted staterooms with wide access doors, low sinks, shower stools, raised toilets, and handrails provide comfort and convenience for anyone requiring ease of mobility.
Where to go for your accessible holiday
As you’ll see from the accommodation websites above, there are plenty of hotels and holiday facilities that cater to those with disabilities. To help get the creative juices flowing when you’re planning your own holiday, here are some amazing destinations:
The fairy penguins of Australia’s Phillip Island are an international treasure, and one of the best things about a trip to the island is that there is an exclusive viewing area for people with disability to watch the penguins wander around and burrow in the beach. You’ll get much closer to them than in any zoo, and the inclusive access truly goes the extra mile to make sure no one misses out.
Climbing Uluru has been banned, but that was never the best way to view the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best way to respectfully admire this deeply spiritual place was to follow the tracks, and these are all designed to be fully accessible. Furthermore, the accommodation, coaches, shops, and other key buildings that make Uluru a true holiday destination all offer wheelchair access and rooms with additional assistance. You might think the desert heat might be a bit much, but Uluru has you covered there, too – there is plenty of shade and canopies to rest, dine, and relax under.
Thailand is the holiday jewel of south-east Asia, so it’s great to see one area decide to cater specifically to tourists with disabilities. One resort in this area even organises additional, inclusive activities such as accessible diving, shows held in accessible arenas with wheelchair access, and specialty transportation options. Now everyone can make the most of a tropical getaway!
Historical cities are often difficult for people with disabilities to get around, as the cities weren’t designed around accessibility, and the necessary changes to enable accessibility could damage the heritage buildings or environment. Dublin is an exception and has really made it work! Almost the entire city has been subtly re-worked to allow for inclusive access, without compromising the facades and rich history of the thousand-year-old city.
The world’s biggest cities can sometimes feel alienating and unhelpful to anyone that can’t keep up with the hustle and bustle, but Hong Kong has a well-deserved reputation for looking after all residents and visitors, with temples with specialised access, additional maps and guidebooks that are specifically designed for people with disability and dedicated accessible transport for those with disabilities.
As you can see, there is no limit to the range of experiences available to people with disability. Once you know how to filter through and find the right accommodations and locations, the world is your oyster!
If you need any assistance with living with a disability – including organising respite, or finding temporary or permanent accommodation, contact the friendly team at Ability Options. We are here to help!