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Handicaped / mobility Challenged traveler

Hello all!

I once traveled quite effortlessly, but now after some unfortunate happenings I am mobility challenged, and fear my traveling days are done.

I have no problems with personal care and the like, I just can't get around a freely as before. Not confined to wheelchair, but unable to walk more than a block or two without stopping.

Any suggestions for this sad sack one time traveler?

Thanks!

Bev

Posted by
1 posts

We are just back from a 4 weeks vacation in Provence. What saved the trip was our US
handicapped parking. We were able to visit the center of charming villages and towns and park right there.
Since you are not in a wheelchair you should be able to rent a room in B& B on the 1st floor
(rez de chaussée).
We first tour cities with the tourist little train or in bicycle "taxi" in Nice.
Wheelchair assistance is provided by airlines and besides enabling passengers to go to the plane and transfer, it is much quicker for immigration, custom etc...
Just a few thoughts...

Posted by
35 posts

Hi Bev,
Although this book was last published in 2006, Rick's "Easy Access" book might have some tips and resources for you. Because it is out of print, it is available to download in its entirety, at https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/easy-access-europe. And if your travel would include London, their transportation website, www.tfl.gov.uk, is extremely helpful for trip planning, allowing you to select routes with least walking, no stairs, etc.

Hope you'll have the chance for a bit more traveling!

Posted by
5239 posts

Just remember to ask for the ground floor (floor 0) -- "first floor" is one floor up, often using stairs not elevator.

Learn to scope out the block ahead for resting places -- if you can see a bench 100' ahead, it can give you the energy to make it that far for a sit-down. If you carry binoculars, there's a lot you can see from a bench.

Posted by
2282 posts

Hope you will have a traveling companion. That will be important. Our daughter has a mild disability. It does not really limit her but we are very aware of accessibility issues when we travel in Europe. In summary, it's not the US. Yes, there has been progress but very old places are simply not amenable to retro fitting. Check out this company: http://www.sagetraveling.com. Happy travels, you can do it!

Posted by
521 posts

Don't be too proud to use a scooter or a wheelchair if it enhances your ability to travel or just even to do things with family, friends.
As we face these things, sometimes we have to just accept that whatever keeps us the most independent and functioning is what we have to embrace

Posted by
16608 posts

I have zero experience traveling as (or with) a mobility-challenged person, but I believe if you start by thinking, "Where can I go that allows a lot of sightseeing from a vehicle?", rather than "I want to go to City X", you will come up with workable options. For me, a priority would be areas that are extremely scenic. Many such places can be appreciated even if you do not go on hikes. So Switzerland, with its views from lake ferries, trains and mountain postbuses would be on my list of possible destinations.

I agree that the cane/stool combo sounds like a brilliant idea. It is my impression that there just aren't as many benches in European cities as we have here in the US, though it may simply be that I don't often need them here at home.

Posted by
11152 posts

"Any suggestions for this sad sack one time traveler?"

Well, first, stop thinking of or referring to yourself as a "sad sack" and "one time traveler," or that is what you will be! On the other hand, if you think of yourself as someone who can still travel but needs to do so with modifications, you'll start with a much better attitude. Also a more realistic one - plenty of people who can only walk a short distance do all kinds of traveling.

Do start with Rick's old book. Since it's free, you can see some of the options for getting around London, Paris, etc.

Do look into assistive devices like canes, wheelchairs, rollators, hiking poles etc. What you use in your everyday life may or may not work for travel.

Plan to take more taxis and less public transit than you did in the past. Always have addresses written down, so you can just show them to a driver to avoid misunderstandings, and keep taxi numbers handy, so you can always call one if you need one. See if Uber/Lyft/Gett are available in places you are going.

Many museums have loaner wheelchairs available (this came in very handy in Dresden when my mother injured her knee getting off the train). Museums are some of the most tiring places, as you're doing a lot of standing with a little walking in between; it can be worse than normal walking, and it can be hard to find seating.

Bathrooms can be a challenge when out and about if you have any difficulty with stairs. It's very common for a ground floor restaurant to have bathrooms up or down a flight of stairs, with no elevator.

I'll emphasize the point that in Europe, the first floor is actually one floor above the ground floor; so, if you need to make sure you are not going to have to climb a flight of stairs, make sure you can get a ground floor room - or book a hotel with an elevator and don't take chances.

Does a cruise appeal to you? They are very well set up for travelers with all kinds of disabilities. If you want some inspiration, even if you're not cruising, look at the Disabled Forum on Cruise Critic. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=190 Once you start reading about people who need tube feedings (can't eat at all by mouth), those confined to wheelchairs, etc, you'll see that by being able to walk a bit, you're "ahead of the game."

I could have sworn that there was a recent report of someone who traveled with a family member with some mobility problems, and how they were able to work around the challenges and have a great trip. I can't find it now, but if I do, I'll post the link.

Posted by
362 posts

Bev,

First of all, only you know what you can/can't do. If your limited by having to stop every couple of blocks of distance, then just accept that if you're walking somewhere it's going to take a little longer to reach your destination. That being said, you may have to work harder on the front end to plan the least challenging routes for your trips.

I would definitely look into those free resources. I would also take advantage when booking airfare and ask for assistance getting from one terminal to the next.

I have two done two major trips with a broken foot. I am lucky. I was mobile, just way slower on steps and inclines than everyone else.

Why not think about a short trip near home first to try out some new travel skills? That way you're on the road again, but you're not so far from home that you're going to be overwhelmed. And it will be a good way to gauge what's doable at this point for you.

I'm seriously impressed that you still want to travel! :-)