Craving a summer getaway? You’re not alone! Check out these handy tips and tricks from our Infoline Specialist.
When the weather starts to warm up, InfoLine sees an increase in calls about accessible travel, recreation opportunities, and transportation. These topics seem to lie more or less dormant in the winter, coming to life again as the trees leaf out and the flowers start to bloom.
Not surprisingly, people who find it difficult to get out in the winter want to make the most of activities outside of the home when the weather is good. There are plenty of fun things to choose from but consider the logistics of the trip first.
One of the more frequent calls at this time of year is from people planning trips to BC and inquiring about renting a van with a lift. Unfortunately, there are very few companies that rent out accessible vans and those that do are usually booked in advance. This can obviously have a serious impact on the vacations that people can consider, so it’s important to plan the logistics of the trip well in advance.
We also get calls about accessible hotels and outdoor activities. The answers to these questions depend on the region people are living in or want to visit. There are a lot of great places across BC to explore and accessibility is becoming better over time. That said, it’s still important to do your homework to ensure that a place that is listed as accessible will actually meet your individual needs. Since most members of the public are not as familiar with accessibility features as we would like, asking specific questions can help to elicit the information you need.
Here are some things to consider when booking a hotel:
- Is the front entrance a level entry and are there automatic doors?
- Are elevators large enough to accommodate your wheelchair size?
- Are all public areas accessible? (you should ask about specifics like a pool area, garden, etc. if you want to be able to use these features)
- Are rooms/suites totally accessible, with wide bathrooms, grab bars, raised toilets and roll-in showers, light fixtures at appropriate height, easy-to-open doors and cabinets, etc.? Are aids such as bath benches available upon request?
- Is the hotel contact thoroughly familiar with the kind of room requested? If not, speak to someone who is to avoid any unwanted surprises. Ask for photos.
- When you arrive, check out the room before you check in.
When choosing outdoor activities, think about what you would like to be able to do and what you would need in order to make that activity possible (such as specialized equipment). Accessible trails, docks, and campsites are available, as are activities like bungee jumping, sailing, sightseeing, and many more. Other people prefer to watch sporting events, go to concerts, or visit family. Whatever you choose to do, it’s always best to ask ahead of time to ensure that you will be able to enjoy the activity on the day of your choice and to avoid frustrating delays or lack of accessibility.
I suggest you read through the other blogs on this site about some of the activities our staff and members have enjoyed over the past few years. Also check out our Accessible Travel section, which provides great information on traveling with a disability, including airplane travel. Our SCI Information Database has lots of information on travel, transportation, and places to visit. You can also contact InfoLine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 800 689 2477 and we’ll be glad to help.
My personal favourite accessible place to see in BC is the accessible boardwalk at the Ancient Forest east of Prince George. You can see my blog about the site from last summer here.
We’d love to hear your travel experiences, good or bad. Feel free to send us stories from previous years or what you end up choosing to do this summer. In the meantime, enjoy this time of year!