Out in the “wilds” of North Wales; rugged, beautiful terrain!

Out in the “wilds” of North Wales; rugged, beautiful terrain!
Photo by: hcf116 (Stock Exchange)

Hello, everybody! It’s February, and that means another Disabled Travelers news round-up!

Once a month, I scour the wire for everything new under the sun that has to do with disabled travel: good, bad, indifferent, and “huh?”

It’s that time again and there’s a lot to report, so let’s get down to it and get rolling.

Looking for holidays for the disabled may have just gotten easier thanks to the new guide to nonprofits that help travelers, released by Frommers. The Nonprofit Quarterly reports on the guide from the company of world-renowned travel writer Arthur Frommer, which lists nonprofits aimed at giving travelers a helping hand in all kinds of capacities. This includes some groups that facilitate trips for disabled travelers.

In fact, the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality, one of the biggest and best barrier-free travel advocacy groups around, headlines the guide. Though the content is not 100% focused on disability access, there are a lot of valuable organizations you might find helpful. To get more information on the Best Nonprofits, check out the Frommer’s website. There’s plenty of other top-quality travel content there, too.

This bit of news just missed the deadline for last month’s round-up, and it’s great info for those who are planning on braving accessibility in Japan. Though I’ve written a bit about Japan in a previous article, I have to admit it was pretty challenging. and most of the best resources seem to be available only in Japanese. So, imagine my surprise when I learned from The Japan Times, which is widely available in English, that barrier-free transport will be expanding throughout Japan! 3,500 rail stations and 60 bus terminals will be renovated to improve handicapped access. The scope of the project will be finalized this March, but sadly, isn’t expected to be complete until 2021! Wow!

Universal Travel System, which specializes in guided tours to some of the most unusual and remote travel destinations — they’ve sponsored many successful tours in North Korea for U.S. citizens — is now offering a totally accessible, barrier-free Croatia tour for people with custom itineraries catering to people with physical, visual, or hearing disabilities. Each tour is limited to eight people, including as many disabled travelers as you might invite along. And each trip runs for an amazing 21 days! Great amenities, great reputation, so drop in if you’ve ever wanted to visit Croatia.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news this time around. Two sources from the UK sounded warning notes over the last month about the state of the disability friendly travel industry. The UK’s Daily Mail cites a report from a Bournemouth University tourism expert claiming that disability services remain one of the biggest challenges in UK tourism. Among the conclusions? That “mainstream” tour operators should integrate more handicapped accessible services catering to both disabled travelers and their families. Right on! Here’s another view of the report and its findings. Now, I’ve been to the UK many, many, many, many times — it was the first place I visited outside the U.S. — and I’ve always found the people to be helpful and obliging. So let’s hope this wake up call helps the tourism industry there to do more!

In good news, veteran and UK resident Mark Newton is raising money for charity by traveling the coast of Wales in a mobility scooter. Mark was disabled after dislocating his knee and developed severe arthritis. Not one to let that slow him down, he’s traveling between 20-30 miles a day to raise money to help those who are still out there serving. Wales offers some really challenging terrain, so good luck to Mark! Let’s hope all goes well and he takes that follow up trip around the coast of Britain!

That’s all for today, but I’m keeping an eye out for more news and views to interest you. We’ll be back next week with another trip to discover the best accessible attractions, disabled hotels, and much, much more. The Disabled Travelers report (make that series!) on China is almost here … and it’s a real doozy!


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