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Now you want to venture
beyond the area you can get to on your own.
1. Can you get out of the mobility device?, what type of
vehicles can you get into on your own?, and what type can you
get into with a little assistance from an able bodied person.?
This often depends on rather you are traveling with an able
bodied companion or if the person providing the tour can assist.
2. What is the terrain like at stops during the tour?
3. If using a bus as a tour vehicle - does it have under floor
storage? Can you get up the 3 or 4 steps into the bus?
4. Is there any assessable restrooms where you are going?
5. Know your mobility device well to know what kind of terrain
it can safely handle.
Group Tours as opposed to Private
The cheapest tours are almost always group tours, where you get
on a tour bus and go sightseeing or to an attraction. There is
no flexibility in these tours, they run on a fixed schedule, and
if you because of mobility restrictions cannot see something as
fast or it is not accessible you will have to wait near the bus
or not see as much. So if taking a group tour make certain you
try and find out in advance as much as you can about the areas
in which you are stopping. Some tours are mostly sightseeing
with few or no stops, others have scheduled stops for a specific
fixed duration. Bear in mind that an able bodied description of
what you can or can not do is not always completely accurate.
One note you will see on
websites in regards to accessibility of group tours is that the
tour operator is not allowed to assist you in boarding and
un-boarding the vehicle due to insurance provisions., this seems
to be the standard, some however will still assist some but
according to insurance provisions that are not suppose to. They
will however usually help in loading your mobility device into
the storage area of the vehicle. Some mobility devices break
apart into light enough sections that one person can lift it
others are not so light and require 2 people to carry into the
storage bin under the bus and the mobility limited person is
usually not much help in this regard, so you may need at least
one fully able bodied person in addition to the driver to
perform this task., according to who is in your group someone
may offer to help but never count on that.
I have also experienced that even though I was able to get the
front seat at the beginning of the tour, after one of the stops,
some able bodied persons took the front seat and I had to go
towards the back to find a seat, some of the other passengers
mentioned among themselves that I should be able to sit at the
front but the driver would not ask the ones that took over the
front seat to move.
Restrooms stops will be at the designated scheduled stop points
would have to check in advance if those locations offer
The stated duration of a group tour may include pick up and drop
off at several locations / hotels, therefore you burn up some of
the allotted tour duration before you even start the actual
Offers you the flexibility to spend more time at one location
and less time at another, can modify locations to where you go
as the driver only has to please you and your companions not the
Restroom stops can be requested as needed not to a schedule. If
a meal stop is part of the tour you can sometimes request a
different location unless the cost is included and the tour
guide has a deal worked out with a particular establishment, if
the food cost is not included then you can usually pick your own
location to eat.
The driver of a completely private tour, the driver will often
offer assistance in pushing a manual wheelchair in my experience
but never count on that unless asked in advance.
You will be catered to and enjoy private tours far better than
group tours. Some private tour operators can arrange for a
wheelchair accessible vehicle if you require it.
If you wish to stop and a take a picture you can (as long it is
safe location for the driver to stop), that would never happen
on a group tour.
The duration of the tour is from the time of pick up to drop
off, there is no wasted time in picking up and dropping off the
masses at multiple locations / hotels.
The down side is a private tour will cost more than a group
tour. However consider the benefits of a private tour. If you
have traveling companions with you, the costs will approach the
group tour rate if your split the cost among your own private
group. If you are traveling with your family and consider the
cost of you, your spouse and children, then the cost of everyone
on a group tour will become closer to the cost of a private
So which do you choose...
What I have done in the past...
If taking a cruise, I will look at what the cruise line listed
tours are first to see if there is anything listed that would be
suitable and doable for me. In the event there is nothing
suitable then I research the costs of private tours and what
attractions are in the area of the cruise port, that I can just
take an taxi or an accessible taxi to and from. Be sure to read
the article on Cruises on this website.
If I come by air and staying in a local hotel (be sure to read
the article on hotels and what how to select which hotel to
book), I will take a good look at private tour options.
If you are intending on traveling to areas that I have traveled
please browse the trips I have been on, there is pictures as
well as descriptions and comments about the tours there.
There is nothing like hearing an able bodied description when it
comes to accessibility and finding out from disabled persons
opinion that it does not match the opinion of the able bodied
By: Donald Kerr