When you’re planning a vacation, you want to have the most relaxing and enjoyable time possible. With a disability, that can sometimes feel like a frustrating goal to have, even if it shouldn’t be. Fortunately, however, most businesses will accommodate guests with extra requirements for their travel needs, and a bit of research will go a long way in helping to find the right airline, hotel, and other travel locations that can make a vacation truly stand out. Who knows, you might even make new friends along the way! Wherever your travels take you, and whoever you meet, here are just a few ways to plan a vacation to truly remember.
1. Make Arrangements Ahead of Time
With a quick call to the airline or hotel, you can quickly let company representatives know what you’ll require for your use of their services. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, you should know your rights, and let companies know too! A right is different than a privilege, and that means that you do not have to compromise with a company on the services you are entitled to by law any more than you have to compromise on the availability of safe drinking water or the right to vote. At the end of the day, any good and reputable company will strongly value the rights of others. If a company doesn’t, it probably isn’t worth yours or anyone else’s time.
2. Don’t Compromise on Your Dream Vacation
If a business is not willing to accommodate your needs, or is attempting to create a compromise that you’re uncomfortable with, be assertive with company representatives. Explain that businesses are required by law to be ADA compliant, and that all guests should be treated equally. Most companies will appreciate your business, and if they don’t, it’s possible that they aren’t worth working with. Don’t be afraid to include a description of your experience with customer service in your reviews of the companies you deal with; it may warn others who have similar issues when traveling, and it may just clue company management in to the changes they urgently need to make.
3. Get in Touch with Others on Social Media
If a vacation is approaching and you’re looking for advice from other persons with disabilities, the use of social media can be a great way to discover the best travel companies and hotels available, as well as which companies to avoid working with. Numerous Facebook groups and web forums exist to help people find trustworthy airlines and accommodations, and you might just find new friends and some travel ideas you hadn’t yet thought of.
4. See What Others Think
One of the benefits of using social media in this day and age is that if you’re dissatisfied with a company’s services, you can also let other travelers know why you’re frustrated and see if they have advice or similar stories. Fortunately, numerous websites and travel experts such as Rick Steves have many tips and stories for people traveling with a disability, and a travel expert’s lifetime of experience journeying around the world can provide you with excellent advice and suggestions on how to create one-of-a-kind vacations.
5. Keep Calm and Carry On
When things aren’t going smoothly, remember to stay calm and relaxed. Stress and anxiety have ways of making the future seem more frustrating than it is. Things will work out in the end, so don’t make yourself more worried than you need to be. Remember, your vacation should be a time for enjoyment and reflection, not unnecessary stress. Trying deep-breathing exercises or challenging negative thoughts can be a great way to find the positive in even the most frustrating situations. There’s also nothing quite like finding the humor in dealing with a difficult travel agent or airline to reduce stress and keep your spirits up.
For these reasons, planning a vacation with a disability can feel like a chore at times, but with the right frame of mind and a bit of preparation, you can relax and enjoy a meaningful trip. After all, the companies that deserve your business will be friendly and accommodating, and at the end of the day, it’s better to avoid the companies that aren’t worth your time anyway. Just remember, making the most out of your vacation means feeling good about your travels and preparing for new experiences and new friendships. And that is travel done right!