Welcome to part three of our travel series, where we will be covering a variety of topics on travel and access that will better prepare you for traveling with individuals with disabilities.
You can read more on this topic in the following articles in the series:

Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can follow the series and come back to it for easy reference when you need a refresher.

Lots of travel sites can tell readers where to find ramps and more accessible places. Thankfully, people, communities and businesses are now more aware of the diversity of needs among travelers than even 10 years ago.

Still, travel is nuanced by situational differences, preferences and needs. Like any aspect of trip planning, making plans for personal access, challenges or preferences can help ensure a successful voyage.

Here are some considerations as you plan your adventures:

  • Physical access to buildings has improved. Still, if you are doubtful about a restaurant, business or building’s accessibility, it may be worth an email or phone call to the venue so that your plans are protected from interruption. Even with a phone call or email, well-intentioned individuals may not understand what accessible means. Consider asking if the entrance is accessible and whether the restrooms are accessible from your appointment or reservation location. In some cases, restrooms may be adapted, but only after you ascend a spiral staircase, to use an extreme example.
  • Personal care during travel is essential for everyone, but disabilities can add a layer of difficulty. Are you traveling with a child or family member with a disability? Look for Family or Companion Restrooms. Many shopping malls, airports, sports arenas and theme parks have these larger, private and better-equipped restrooms for customers’ comfort. If you are unsure if the destination facility has accessible or companion facilities, consider visiting the venue’s website or call to inquire. Further, knowing the physical location of the restroom your family needs could provide great comfort during your stay. Is the Companion Care Restroom with the first-aid station? Is there only one at the stadium? Understanding the location can make your trip easier and more fun.
  • Hotels often have a limited number of accessible rooms available on a first-come, first-served basis. If your travel plans involve a hotel stay, ask about accessibility including safe passenger drop-off and accessible parking, taxis, buses and shuttle services. Will you have elevator access, zero-entry showers, raised toilet seats, dining options and other accessible guest accommodations relevant to your stay? A telephone call or email to the venue could shed light on unpublished services to enhance your customer experience. If your child has complex needs, and your stay will include a hotel or resort, consider asking if the facility has a physician on staff or on call. It might be beneficial to have knowledge of your medical options in case your trip includes a medical event.

There is so much planning to do when we travel. Encourage your child to get involved using symbol-supported materials as well! Use the symbol library and Board Wizard within SymbolStix PRIME to create your own.

Finally, consider reviewing restaurants and venues on travel sites and add ratings for accessibility and accommodations. Other travelers will appreciate and benefit from your experiences!

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About the Author
Anne Johnson-Oliss has spent more than 20 years in the special education field as a teacher, supervisor, sales and marketing professional and business leader. In addition to teaching at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Anne has authored five books and is an experienced presenter at national and international forums. She earned a Master of Education degree from Wright State and holds several certifications in education and business.