The Top 10 Europe Handicapped Travel Tips are based on experiences from traveling with wheelchair to over 80 cities in Europe and planning countless trips for other disabled travelers. Prepare well for your trip, follow these Top 10 Europe Handicapped Travel Tips, and travel with an open mind….you’ll be sure to have a great accessible European vacation!
1) Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead: Did you know that Herculaneum has nearly identical ruins as Pompeii but is very wheelchair friendly? And that disabled cruise passengers don’t have to take the “donkey path” up the cliffs when visiting the island of Santorini? Nearly every accessibility barrier can be overcome or circumvented with the right amount of planning.
2) Book hotels far in advance: It is almost always cheaper to book your accessible hotel accommodation FAR in advance. Many disabled hotels in European city centers have only 1 or 2 disabled hotel rooms. The best ones get booked very far in advance! We often plan trips for people 9 months in advance and place them in the most affordable, most accessible, most centrally-located hotel rooms.
3) Your accessible guided tours will likely be the best memory that you have: We hear it time and time again. Seeing a beautiful city like Florence or a bustling city like London is a great experience. But to truly appreciate the special characteristics of the city, you’ll need a tour guide to point out the fascinating hidden history behind what you’re seeing.
Without a tour guide, you might walk/roll right past Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, the spot where St. Peter preached in Athens, or the location of the infamous guillotine in Paris. Tour guides will not only show you the city…they’ll bring you back in time to experience everything that has happened in the city.
4) Carefully plan your route: If you know what you’re getting into before you arrive, you’ll have a much easier time on your trip. Often there are numerous options to get between the various tourist attractions that you’re so eager to see. Some routes will have wheelchair ramps , smooth pavement, and flat terrain. Others can have steep hills, bothersome (and even dangerous!) cobblestones, and flights of stairs.
5) Stay in the most accessible parts of town: It’s one of the most difficult parts of planning your accessible trip. You may have found a great accessible hotel, but what will you find when you walk/roll out the front door? Are there hills in all directions? Will you have to roll over cobblestones to get anywhere? Are there accessible restaurants nearby?
6) Accessible public transportation options: When choosing a hotel, don’t forget to factor in the price of transportation. If you have to pay for a taxi to get to accessible restaurants, accessible shopping, and the tourist attractions, that hotel “deal” you found won’t feel so like such a good deal.
7) Experience of other Europe handicapped travelers: You’re almost certainly not the first disabled person to visit your destination. Find out the accessibility challenges that other disabled travelers encountered and how they got around them. You can check the various online travel forums to find previous traveler experiences.
8) Choose the right time of year for your destination: Many European destinations have times of year you should avoid. Visit Venice in November, and you could end up trapped by extensive flooding. Northern attractions could be cold outside of summer months, and Naples will be scorching during July and August. In Paris, the city will shut down on July 14th for Bastille Day, and virtually everywhere will shut down on May 1st for Labor Day. A great European accessible vacation will require great timing!
9) Have a back-up plan: On even the most perfectly planned accessible vacation, things can go wrong when traveling with a disability. When it does, how will you deal with it? If you prepare for all the potential issues, unexpected events won’t turn into trip potential trip-ruining problems!
10) Enjoy your trip!: You’ve done as much planning as you can. You’ve relied on the experience of other disabled travelers, and you have back-up plans. Now it’s time to enjoy your trip! Majestic cities, beautiful art and architecture, fascinating history, exquisite food, and wonderful experiences await!