The World is Now More Accessible Than Ever – Explore and Enjoy It!

The world is now more accessible than ever before. Twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of these individuals is increasing daily. These people need to, want to, and can travel. If you’re part of that twenty percent, a world of travel awaits you.

 

Travel professionals such as myself who are accessible travel advocates certified by Special Needs Group www.specialneedsgroup.com, the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry, have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.

 

Here are a few tips from Special Needs Group to ensure that when your next travel opportunity arises, you are ready to go.

 

Outline your travel needs

 

Take time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.

 

Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest: what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home?

 

Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides?  How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?

 

Travel, whether solo or in a group, is no time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.

 

Plan Ahead

 

If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. Does that transport have a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair? Is oxygen allowed on board? Some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders. Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms.

 

Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions.  Again, documentation and paperwork are required.

 

Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip. As your travel agent we can confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important.

 

Check on the access to public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, the swimming pool, hot tub, beach area and other amenities. Are there TDD phone devices? How will you get in and out of the shower or bathtub? Are there flashing lights to accommodate hearing? Braille room numbers? Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives us time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do. Everything from scooters, lifts, ramps, TDD kits and special mattresses, including special needs cribs, is available for rental.

 

Will road travel or car excursions be part of the trip? Many car rental companies have vehicles that are modified for drivers or passengers with mobility limitations. Check ahead to make sure a suitable vehicle will be available for your travel dates. If you will be hiring a car or van, we will make sure the company is aware of your special needs.

 

When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised. We will send you a quote for travel insurance.

 

Ask the Right Questions

 

When making the final bookings, be sure you ask the right questions, even if the accommodations or cruise stateroom are categorized as “accessible.”

 

For example, are doorways wide enough for the largest wheelchairs? Do the doors open outwards or into the room?

 

Are all the public areas of the hotel, resort or ship accessible? Do you need to make special arrangements in the dining room to accommodate the wheelchair or scooter?

 

Will the bathroom facilities truly fit your needs? Is the bathroom large enough for the wheelchair or scooter? Is there a roll-in shower? Grab-bars?

 

Are there facilities for companion/assistance animals?

 

Are there shopping and entertainment facilities close by if you are staying at a hotel or resort?

 

On shore excursions or tours, does the van have a lift and method for transporting wheelchairs and scooters?

 

Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.

 

I look forward to helping you with all of your accessible travel needs!

Cruising to Alaska

I’ve been on a few cruises to Alaska and I hope to go on many more. I love Alaska the scenery is beautiful and there is plenty of wildlife to see. If you’ve never been and would like to go I would like to share some information with you so that you can make an informed decision about when you want to go and what you would like to see.

When it comes to cruising Alaska you have so many choices. There are choices of which cruise line to take, which itinerary is best, what to do in the ports, which side of the ship and what type of cabin to get. I hope to answer a lot of your questions here today.

When to go

Alaska’s cruise season runs from the end of April/first part of May well into September. May and September are called shoulder season and will be a little less expensive than the full summer months. The summer solstice in June is the longest day of the year when you cruise Alaska near that time it can stay daylight well into the night and never actually get fully dark.  I was walking around the ship at 10:30 pm and it was still daylight. Best time to go weather wise it is hard to say. You can have beautiful sunny weather in May or September or it could be cool and drizzly. June, July and August you just never know. One week could be cloudy and cool and the next week could be sunny and warm or you might have a mixture of the two so plan accordingly. Plan to wear layers. We’ll talk later about what to pack.

Cruises Lines

All of the major cruise lines send ships to Alaska in the summer time. If you’ve cruised before and have a preferred cruise line they will more than likely have a ship sailing Alaska during the summer cruise season. What is the best cruise line to cruise in Alaska? That is a subjective question and it all depends on what you are looking for the most. Princess has won awards for Best Cruise Line in Alaska for over ten years in a row. Princess cruisers tend to be in the age range of 40 to 70 so it you are a young family you might prefer Disney or Carnival. If you are in your 30’s to 60’s you might like the more casual vibe of Norwegian cruise line (NCL). There are so many different cruise lines and so many differences between them so it helps to have a travel agent that is familiar with all of them to help you make the right choice.

Itineraries

Each of the cruise lines do basically the same itineraries. They all will have several ships cruising Alaska during the summer season. Most cruises last seven days but there are some that are 10 to 14 days from San Francisco and Los Angeles. The seven day cruises have several itineraries there are two different itineraries round trip from Seattle (Glacier Bay and Sawyer Glacier). Seven day cruises either Northbound or Southbound between Vancouver BC and Anchorage. If doing the Northbound or Southbound cruise you can add a 3 to 7 day land vacation to your cruise. There are some beautiful lodges used by the cruise lines in Alaska. You can visit Denali National Park and several others and take the Alaska railroad to or from the ship to your lodges in Alaska.  Meals are included on the cruise portion of the trip but are extra on the land portion of the trip.

What to Pack

Depending on the time of the year you are going you more than likely will need some warm clothes. It is best to dress in layers so if it does warm up in the afternoon or cool off in the evening you can adjust your clothing. Take a few tank tops or short sleeve tee shirts to wear under a long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt. You should also plan to bring a lightweight waterproof jacket. You will more than likely want to bring several pairs of jeans or comfortable long pants and even a pair of shorts or Capri’s or two. A nice dress or slacks for dinner in the main dining room on board the ship. Shoes you will probably want to bring some tennis shoes or walking shoes that are waterproof,  and sandals or flip flops. Most of all you will want to be comfortable and remember Alaska is casual.

Need or want more information

I hope that I was able to at least provide some useful information and if you have more questions and would like for more information please contact me. I’d love to help you with planning your cruise to Alaska.

 

 

 

Starting to Blog

Well I am going to try my hand at writing a blog. I signed up for a Word Press account in December 2015 and I wrote one blog post that I don’t think any one read. It was about my plan to move from working my full time job in accounting to running my travel agency full time and my hope to do that at the end of 2016. I had been selling travel part time for over five years and my business has been growing every year and it was getting harder to do both jobs at the same time.

Here it is August of 2017 and I was able to retire from that accounting job at the end of 2016 but I stayed on there and helped out full time until the end of April. Since the 1st of May time has really flown by I have been so busy working full time at growing my travel business. I spent the first ten days of May in Orlando. Five days was at a Travel Leaders Network conference and then five days visiting Disney World. Taking that time and going to the conference helped me get even more excited about the new adventure that I was beginning.

Since blogs are a place to writing about what a person thinks, feels and wants to talk about my blogs will probably be rather short and about a variety of travel related things since travel is my job and my passion.

New Year 2016

With each new year we have a chance to reflect on our past and look ahead to our future. It is a new beginning and a new starting point to change the things we didn’t like about the past and look forward to the things we want to see and do in the future.

We have all at one time or another made some sort of new years resolution, to lose weight, quit a bad habit, spend more time with family. Some times those resolutions last for a few days, a few weeks or even a few months. It’s time to stop making resolutions and to make steps forward in this new year.

This year I will start my journey to what I have been looking forward to for many years. At the end of 2016 I hope to retire from a career that I have worked in for almost 30 years (accounting) to work full time in a career that has been my passion for most of my life (travel). Four years ago I was laid off from one job for a short period of time and used that time to start my own travel agency. Since that time even though I have been working full time in accounting I have been nurturing and growing my travel business.

My hope for this blog is to have you follow along with me on my new journey. I hope to use this blog to share my progress moving from one career to another. I want share useful information on traveling and my past and future travels. One of my favorite quotes from Nikos Kazantzakis “In order to succeed we must first believe we can”. As we step into this new year together and we all have things that we want to accomplish. If you sit in your chair and say I can’t, I don’t know how, it won’t work, you are correct it won’t happen. The first step in making it happen is believing it can.