DisabledTravelers.com Travel Blog » Train Accessible Travel /1/blog Interesting information, reviews, and pictures in the world of accessible travel... Tue, 30 Oct 2012 01:47:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3 Disabled Travelers Australia Series: Darwin /1/blog/2010/08/05/disabled-travelers-australia-series-darwin/ /1/blog/2010/08/05/disabled-travelers-australia-series-darwin/#comments Thu, 05 Aug 2010 11:01:14 +0000 /1/blog/?p=840 A stormy sunset in Australia’s Northern Territory

A stormy sunset in Australia’s Northern Territory
Photo by: Juho Tastula (Stock Exchange)

Welcome back to Disabled Travelers! As we wind down our stupendous and compendious series of access guides for Australia, we come to Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory. Though it’s the least populous capital on the island, it’s the heart and soul of the Northern Territory and well-known as a jumping off point for Asian destinations. Darwin Harbor and surroundings have grown from pioneer days and include historic shipwrecks and terrific fishing. But how’s the wheelchair access? Let’s see …

One of the biggest attractions in Darwin is the harbor area, so let’s start with accessible hotels around Darwin Harbor. You can also get plenty of listings for wheelchair-friendly accommodations from PleaseTakeMeTo, Australian Bed and Breakfast, and of course, Stayz. One very well-located and reputable option is the Darwin Central Hotel, which has a selection of accessible rooms. There’s also Escape Travel for even more hits. If you’re headed between Darwin and Adelaide, or planning to pop by famous Alice Springs, you’ll want to hear about The Ghan, one of Rail Australia’s most historic trains. Of course, Darwin International Airport is another handy option.

For getting by and getting around, check out Travelling Darwin, an article by the late public speaker Matt Laffan. Matt was not a wheelchair user, but had a serious height impairment from medical issues, and his observations are very incisive. As in Adelaide, you’ll probably be interested in accessibility at the Darwin Festival, which happens to be coming up later this month. It’s a huge event for the Northern Territory and has a whole range of offerings to be enjoyed by the deaf, those with visual difficulties, and of course, anyone who needs mobility impaired access. The fun doesn’t stop for seventeen days!

Around Darwin is one of the most useful sites on the ‘net focused on Darwin, and includes a huge amount of general tourist information, as well as a lot that’s useful for handicapped travelers. Some valuable highlights: a few accessible swimming spots, accommodations in the Darwin outback, and some local hotels and motels. The rest of the site has plenty of restaurants, tour operators, cruises, and a whole bunch of other neat stuff that’s sure to make your trip up north memorable.

You can also check out Lonely Planet’s Introducing Darwin. For a comprehensive guide to the area, do not miss Your Guide to Everything Darwin, which delivers on the name with a database filled with just about all you could want: hotels to flights to attractions and everything in between. It also aggregates the latest Darwin news!

That’s it for dusty but delightful Darwin, and we’re finally driving toward the end of the Australia Series here on Disabled Travelers. See you next time, and adventure on!


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City of Lights, Part 5: A Final Look at Handicapped Travel Resources in Paris /1/blog/2010/06/22/city-of-lights-part-5-a-final-look-at-handicapped-travel-resources-in-paris/ /1/blog/2010/06/22/city-of-lights-part-5-a-final-look-at-handicapped-travel-resources-in-paris/#comments Tue, 22 Jun 2010 07:05:14 +0000 /1/blog/?p=773 A last look at the city of romance

A last look at the city of romance
Photo by: Koetsy18 (Stock Exchange)

Bonjour! No, ladies and gentlemen, summer has not made me forget about Paris! You know, after about four posts, you might think we’ve done just about everything it’s possible to do in the City of Lights here at Disabled Travelers. But, in fact, I’m here to prove there’s a little bit left to round out our five-part access guides for the capital of France. We’ve covered a lot, but there’s still a bunch of great stuff that didn’t quite fit into any of our other topics. So, as we bid farewell to the land of wine and cheese and get ready to move on to our next destination, here’s “everything else” you haven’t seen.

Paris on Wheels is a wheelchair tour operator that provides personal attendants, private transportation, and accessible excursions to a wide range of attractions in and around Paris, including Versailles. They also provide personalized “consultation” from an inside perspective on accessible hotels, restaurants, transportation options, and everything else you need for Paris – and if your thirst for travel isn’t quite satisfied, you can get the same service for the Big Apple at New York on Wheels.

The Times Online of London has information on Eurostar transportation around Paris and also links to the incredibly useful Access Project page for Paris, which has a slew of accessible hotels and general information on getting around and seeing the sights. Of course, we did a point-by-point rundown of Paris hotels a while back, but there are even more than we didn’t cover courtesy of Access Project. It seems like there’s really a slew of options, well-positioned to your favorite Parisian attractions! Paris by Wheelchair is another great article, courtesy of Transitions Abroad, that covers similar subjects.

An American in Paris’ “Handicapped Travel” article offers the all-important “street level” view of accessibility challenges and opportunities in the city, while A Night in Paris fills in some critical gaps in our knowledge, telling all about where to rent wheelchairs, pointing out even more delicious restaurants that promote mobility impaired access on their grounds, and even giving us a hint where to find a tour operator or two who can design, book, and lead a customized Paris vacation with all the details settled in advance. There’s also Paris Private Guides, offering drivers, attendants, and itineraries for the handicapped. They’ve posted some great information on major museums throughout Paris, many of which are free to wheelchair users and one attendant.

Last but certainly not least, don’t count out Global Access News, with its article by Howard Chabner and Michele DeSha telling you all about Wheelchair Accessible Travel in Burgundy and Perigord. Mention of Paris itself is brief, but this provides some great context for other areas of France from the same helpful contributors who told us about the Paris passerelles not too very long ago.

We’ve had a great time in Paris, but now it’s time for Disabled Travelers to move on. So, after our first (and very likely our only!) five part series, we bid Paris a fond adieu. And as for you, we’ll meet again on our next rendezvous. Until then, aventure en avant – or something like that!

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Handicapped Travelers’ Resources All Around Scotland /1/blog/2009/12/09/handicapped-travelers-resources-all-around-scotland/ /1/blog/2009/12/09/handicapped-travelers-resources-all-around-scotland/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2009 14:00:06 +0000 http://disabledtravelers.com/blog/?p=170

Dundee Steeple Church
Photo by: Colin Brough

Hello, everyone, and once again, happy holidays from the Disabled Travelers blog! Today I’ll be continuing on with my access guide for the United Kingdom by discussing disabled travel resources in Scotland. This is a great destination that no tour through the UK should be without. So without further ado, here we go …

The single biggest event in Scotland is the annual Military Tattoo, an awesome parade with bands, performers, and more in the shadow of famous Edinburgh Castle. The Tattoo’s organizers offer special wheelchair seating and vehicle permits, as well as a personal PA system and audio description of the event for those with hearing and visual difficulties, respectively. The Tattoo is a very popular event, typically attracting over 200,000 spectators a year, and it’s pretty rare to see something like this with such extensive accessibility and disabled travel features, so check it out! The Tattoo will take place this year in the month of August.

Throughout Scotland and Wales, the disabled person’s railcard is just as good as it is in England, so take advantage of the discounted fares. ScotRail is the railway service in Scotland, and offers assistance at rail stations and alternate transport for unstaffed rail stations, as well as other accommodations. All ScotRail trains have wheelchair accessibility ramps and most have designated areas for handicapped travelers in wheelchairs. ScotRail and other public services in Scotland are particularly proactive about assisting hard-of-hearing and deaf disabled travelers, as this recent news article from Wellsphere’s Hearing Loss and Deafness Community demonstrates.

In the past, Scotland’s rugged, rural landscape has proven difficult for some disability travel purposes. In recent years, though, a few new initiatives and a new awareness among local hoteliers has definitely changed things for the better. Disabled people are now entitled to free bus travel throughout Scotland. Unfortunately, the current entitlement is only for residents, but wheelchair accessible hotels are definitely multiplying across Scotland’s beautiful countryside. Here’s one selection of holiday cottages with wheelchair access, and a few more hotels and B&Bs, including one right on the picturesque shores of Loch Ness – where you just might spot the famous sea monster.

Accessible Scotland is part of the country’s official tourism board and offers verified accommodations and activities in a variety of locations. Disability Help Scotland is a nonprofit organization and information clearinghouse for news and information that affects handicapped people (and naturally, handicapped travelers) through the nation. Naturally, if you’re journeying through Scotland you might be interested in playing the ancestral sport: golf. If so, I have good news for you: disabled people have their own golf course in Scotland. This course is in Edinburgh, the heart and capital of the nation. While Edinburgh itself has no access guide I could find, you might benefit from the disabled passenger resources from Edinburgh Airport.

If you want a tour operator to help you in your rambling around Edinburgh, and even some other major cities in the UK, try Can Be Done, which operates wheelchair accessible and disability friendly tours in Edinburgh, London, Dublin, Paris, Tenerife, and many more places in the UK, continental Europe, and the Mediterranean.

In my next installment, I’ll be wrapping up our whirlwind tour of the United Kingdom by uncovering the best disabled travel resources in that unique and picturesque land, Wales. Until then, keep adventuring, and we’ll see you soon …


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Wheelchair Accessible Bus, Charter, and Train Options in the United States /1/blog/2009/12/01/wheelchair-accessible-bus-charter-and-train-options-in-the-united-states/ /1/blog/2009/12/01/wheelchair-accessible-bus-charter-and-train-options-in-the-united-states/#comments Tue, 01 Dec 2009 20:43:21 +0000 http://disabledtravelers.com/blog/?p=154 12-1 Blog

The skyline of Boston, a city known for its many wonderful transportation options

Welcome back to the Disabled Travelers blog! Don’t look now, but this could be shaping up as an especially hectic year for those planning to travel for winter holidays or New Years. Airlines are often backed up, and inclement weather might be a nuisance. But remember that disabled travel doesn’t have to be limited to air and sea. Plenty of handicapped travelers are finding ways to get around with accessibility-enhanced trains, buses, and charters. In the U.S., these can sometimes be the “forgotten” travel options, so I’d like to talk about the latest in wheelchair travel “on wheels.”

There are a lot of small, regional bus lines and relatively few companies with national scope here in the United States. The situation is reversed in Europe, where buses are a way of life and wheelchair access is often a basic feature. Greyhound Buses is one of the great national lines, and it’s very clear and forthright on its policies for disabled travel. Handicapped travelers are more than welcome, as are service animals – but there are some combined weight and maximum height requirements for wheelchairs, so be sure to check them out. Greyhound has service areas and routes throughout the States, and can even get you to parts of Canada and Mexico.

Coach USA is an option for scheduled bus services, city-wide sightseeing tours, and charter bus rental throughout several states, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and parts of the Midwest and Canada. According to its fleet information page, each type of bus in service is ADA-compliant, and the only catch is 48 hours notice concerning your needs. Since it’s always wise to contact a charter service well in advance, this shouldn’t be a problem for most folks.

Megabus covers major urban areas mostly in the north, including New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Washington. This company seems a tiny bit less forthcoming, requiring you to contact customer service and confirm that wheelchair accessible buses are available for your intended travel. It is also not quite clear whether personal attendants are admitted free, at a reduced rate, or at full price. I’ll point it out for now, but with a grain of salt until I hear a little more. Let’s hope the disability access is just as good as the rest of these services!

As far as the west coast goes, there are a variety of tour operators and other services, but a lot of them are focused on major destinations like Las Vegas. For traveling in the San Francisco Bay area, Bay Area Rapid Transit is useful and boasts a variety of features for handicapped travelers. BART is a government initiative, and generally speaking, any publicly-supported bus service can be expected to be more accommodating and have fewer barriers to accessibility than a private company you don’t know well. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada even offers door-to-door paratransit and various forms of passenger assistance to mobility-impaired riders; all benefits you may qualify for even if you’re only in Nevada temporarily.

For those looking specifically for a charter bus service, USA Bus Charter is a good option, with ADA-compliant wheelchair accessible buses in major cities throughout the United States. For more general tips on your rights as a handicapped traveler, you can search the official website of the U.S. Access Board, a federal agency that promotes accessible design, for accessibility guidelines pertaining to vehicles and structures. This includes Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines for which compliance is mandatory – the government also provides a great resource website for ADA information.

No offense to bus tour operators, but unless you opt for a high-end charter, trains tend to be more comfortable over long distances. What Greyhound is to buses, Amtrak is to trains. Kind of terse, I know, but I’ve had good experiences with them, and I feel like we can trust Amtrak. For those looking for more general information on disabled travel and choosing an accessible rail provider, Scootaround Mobility Solutions offers a great disabled traveling tips page on how to make your train trip smooth and easy, even if you’re traveling a long way.

That’s it for buses and trains in the U.S., but that’s not all for the subject. Wait until I show you how easy it is to get around in wheelchair accessible buses and trains throughout major destinations in the United Kingdom! Until then, keep adventuring … and don’t miss the bus!


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