GROUP TRAVEL FOR PERSONS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Ft. Lauderdale, FL (March 13, 2010) - Group travel options for persons with special needs are becoming more popular and more varied. Whether you use a wheelchair, need oxygen, have a hearing impairment or rely on a service animal, there is a group trip for you. Andrew Garnett, founder and CEO of Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea offers a few tips for finding and enjoying the right trip.
Use an agency with solid experience organizing group trips for persons with disabilities, preferably one that specializes in your disability. Connie George Associates works with wheelchair users and slow walkers; Passages Travel concentrates on Deaf Cruises; and Palm Beach County Cruise & Travel works exclusively with Multiple Sclerosis. SATH (Society for Accessible Travel and Tourism), the internet, and national non-profit agencies for your disability are resources for locating specialty travel agents.
Experienced agents will ask questions about your disability needs—some may be uncomfortable. Be candid, and specific. This is the first step in making your experience as effortless and enjoyable as possible.
Select a “disability-friendly” group package. Cruises are a good choice. Modern ships are highly accessible and visit multiple destinations while you enjoy a variety of dining and entertainment onboard. Celeste Belyea of CruisePlanners/Get Up and Go2 specializes in planning group travel for persons with respiratory problems. Her groups travel with “concentrators and enough oxygen to go to the moon”. She says “cruising offers flexibility. You can be active or just sit on the deck.
Connie George, a 15-year veteran of group tours for wheelchair users and slow walkers says cruise lines have more accessible spaces than land venues and ship personnel offer superior services.
Decide where you want to go, then select the group and ship that fits your interests. Generally, newer (and bigger) ships have more accessibility features including wider elevators, Braille menus and signage and more.
Don’t worry if can’t reserve a designated accessible cabin. While Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and others have a large number of accessible staterooms fleet-wide, big groups can fill these quickly. You or your agent can make any stateroom more accessible by renting commode chairs, shower stools, patient lifts and other specialty equipment, including hospital beds and baby cribs from Special Needs Group.
Most group cruises focus on fun, but some include enrichment programs. CruisePlanners/Get Up and Go2 holds seminars on medical advances, new technology and equipment updates. This agency and others also schedule time for you to be away from your companion or caretaker to interact with peers. “An important aspect of special needs group travel is learning what others are doing and making new friends,” says Garnett.
Be sure you have trip insurance to cover a last minute cancellation. Ask your travel agent to arrange this for you.
Be realistic. No matter how experienced your travel agency, they cannot always make things perfect for all needs. Just relax, expect a few challenges, and enjoy the trip.
Official News Releases
- February 13, 2017
- Special Needs Group / Special Needs at Seas to Celebrate 10th Anniversary on February 14th
- 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
- March 20, 2017
- Dania firm broadens horizons for Travelers with Disabilities
- March 13, 2017
- Special Needs Group Featured in Sun Sentinel
Dania supplier of special needs equipment thrives as travelers with disabilities broaden horizons
- March 7, 2017
- Special Needs Group Featured in Porthole Cruise Magazine
Going the Distance - Special Services at Sea open the world of cruising to all travelers.
- April 29, 2015
- SNG Donates a Powerchair to ARC Broward Client