Select Traveler

NOV-DEC 2016

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30 N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 P L A N N I N G O V E R C O M E S Y ou might assume that the winding streets of Venice would prove off -limits for travelers who use wheelchairs. However, with a little planning, a disabled person could explore Venice without crossing one bridge. Tourist destinations across the world have embraced acces- sible travel with special routes and accommodating policies to ensure that everyone who wants to travel can. Loyalty travel program directors shouldn't discourage disabled travelers from joining their trips — with a little preparation, these passengers can enjoy a group tour as much as anyone. ough it may seem daunting at fi rst, creating accessible tours can be accomplished with these basic guidelines. D O Y O U R H O M E W O R K e fi rst rule of accessible travel is to never assume. Accessi- ble trips to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, the Acropolis in Athens and the Roman Forum happen all the time. More and more ancient sites that were once impassable except by foot have developed routes especially for the disabled. So when selecting your destination, make sure to research what accessibility is already available at your destinations and attractions. If you hit a roadblock, don't immediately give up. Find out if an alternative site will work. For example, Hercula- neum is a nearly identical experience to Pompeii, but the for- mer works for wheelchair users. Travel planners should also line up accessible transporta- tion early on, such as accessible motorcoaches and a detailed plan for the airport. Call ahead to the airline to ensure special accommodations will be ready for your disabled travelers. When scheduling your group's fl ights, keep in mind that most airlines board wheelchair users fi rst but make them exit the plane last. is can aff ect connecting fl ights, so always in- clude at least 90 minutes of buff er time between fl ights. Additionally, give careful consideration to selecting hotels for a number of reasons. You want to choose a hotel not just because it lies near the city center, but also by the accessibility of that part of town. For example, a wheelchair user wouldn't appreciate free time at a hotel next to a cobblestone street. Re- search the neighborhood around the hotel if you plan on pro- viding any time for individual exploration. Try to also book hotel rooms far in advance, since many ho- tel rooms only have one or two accessible rooms. M E D I C A L LY R E A D Y When a disabled traveler fi rst signs up for your tour, fi nd out as much as you can about the specifi cs of that person's condition. Disabilities can vary greatly, and you'll need vastly diff erent prepa- rations for a deaf traveler than you will a mobility-challenged one. BY ELIZA MYERS marketing Y O U R P R O G R A M N O V N N O V N O V O V N O E M B E R / D E C E M B

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