CHOOSING A SPECIAL NEEDS TOUR OR EXCURSION
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Are you a traveler with a special need looking to add an excursion or tour to your cruise vacation plans? Perhaps you are simply a slow walker. Whatever your level of need, a tour or excursion specifically designed to accommodate travelers with special needs will be easier and more enjoyable. Today, there are more travel agents than ever offering trips and excursions for persons with special needs. These professionals understand your physical limitations, know how to book accessible transportation and can ensure destinations are accessible. How do you find the right travel agent?
Kristy Lacroix of Wheelchair Escapes recommends working with agents who are certified in Accessibility Travel by the Travel Institute and who are members of SATH, the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality.
You should also look for an agency focused on your specific need--wheelchair use, slow walking, respiratory problem, visual limitation, hearing impairment or other. Specialists are more likely to deliver quality planning and expert handling tailored to your requirements. Some agencies partner with special needs organizations such as the National MS Society or the Diabetes Foundation, and also include educational components to their trips. Check with the local association for your special need.
Do you prefer group or individual travel? Lacroix designs custom travel for individuals and small groups while Alana Mizowicki of Fun Cruises and Travel specializes in large groups of 100 or more in partnership with special needs organizations. Find the right fit.
Ask why the agent was drawn to this niche. Lacroix started her career after a few problematic trips with her wheelchair-bound husband. “I wanted to create a better way.” Mizowicki was inspired by a friend with Multiple Sclerosis. Personal involvement means the agent has intimate knowledge of your challenges and understands the situation from your side.
Does the agent know how accessibility standards and rules vary by country? On a cruise, for example, your service animal may not be permitted ashore on certain islands. Agents should be candid about identifying trips that are unsuitable for you.
Verify—rather than “assume”—that all details important to you are in place. At destinations, are the sidewalks and terrain wheelchair friendly? Will museums and other venues have ramps, elevators or hearing devices? What are the doorway widths? Are bathrooms accessible?
The travel agent should be comfortable with the questions you ask. If not, he/she may not be right for you. Mizowicki, who has been developing trips for slow walkers and wheelchair users since 2001, says, “The knowledge curve is endless. I learn something new each trip that benefits my clients."
It takes teamwork to deliver a memorable vacation experience. Does the agency have a collaborative mindset and a good team in place? According to Mizowicki, her team consists of the cruise line staff, her agency associates, the partnering foundation and service providers such as Special Needs Group, the leading global provider of special needs equipment. She also uses physical therapy, acupuncture and exercise professionals. “Travel is the opportunity to explore new possibilities; going beyond the diagnosis to become the most you can be,” she says. “That takes teamwork."
Believe in your abilities. Trust yourself to conquer difficulties. Things will not always be perfect, but a knowledgeable agent can ensure the best match between the trip of your dreams and your ability.
“Everyone deserves to travel,” says Lacroix. “Just because you are in a wheelchair does not mean you cannot travel the world with dignity."
For more details, contact Special Needs Group 800-513-4515 or http://www.specialneedsgroup.com.
Official News Releases
- November 13, 2015
- SNG announces Certification Milestone
2,500 Travel Professionals successfully complete Special Needs Group Certified Accessible Travel Advocates® program!
- July 17, 2014
- Travel Agent wins free MSC Cruise in Special Needs Group Certification promotion
Gloria Hallick, ACC of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Alberta, Canada is the lucky winner of the SNG Certification promotion that resulted in SNG celebrating over 2,000 Certified Accessible Travel Advocates.
- July 1, 2014
- Special Needs Group® / Special Needs at Sea® Continue Efforts to Provide Awareness for Special Needs Travel
Special Needs Group® / Special Needs at Sea® Continue Efforts to Provide Awareness for Special Needs Travel at National Federation of the Blind Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla.
- May 16, 2014
- Special Needs Group and Sun & Fun Cycles Team Up to Expand Access to Widely Acclaimed Hollywood Beach, FL Broadwalk
Special Needs Group and Sun & Fun Cycles Team Up to Expand Access to Widely Acclaimed Hollywood Beach, FL Broadwalk, Empowering Individuals with Special Needs to Explore Popular Tourist Destination
- April 16, 2014
- MSC Cruises Partners with Special Needs Group for Agent Education
Offers Free Cruise for SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate® Certification Promotion
- April 29, 2015
- SNG Donates a Powerchair to ARC Broward Client
- August 25, 2014
- Sun Sentinel's Top Work Places for People on the Move Honors Andrew Garnett, President/CEO of SNG
- May 6, 2013
- Special Needs Group Featured in The Miami Herald
Special Needs Group Featured in The Miami Herald
- May 6, 2013
- Scooter Donation Helps Improve Teen's Mobility
Scooter Donation Helps Improve Teen's Mobility
- May 9, 2011
- Demand for Special Needs Equipment on Cruises is Growing
As more people with disabilities and special needs opt to take a cruise, businesses are rushing to meet growing demand for ship-board mobility devices.