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Road-tested tips to help you ensure your trip is barrier free:
Traveling? Choose Services You Can Use!

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Because individual disabilities tend to vary widely as to degree and nature, it may not be possible for a travel agent to determine for sure whether a particular flight, cruise, facility or service provider will be sufficiently "barrier-free" for YOUR particular needs or situation.

We have observed a tendency among some of those who sell travel services to not be particularly aware of how important disability issues might be for individual travelers. However, when they try to "gloss over" our questions with answers that often show they didn't even attempt to understand our concerns, we don't think they are deliberately being insensitive.

Sometimes it just may be that they don't understand the practical aspects of how someone's disability can affect the accomplishment of basic life tasks.

Only you are qualified to determine what will be accessible – and achievable – for you! So you must always be ready to be your own advocate.

And if you plan to travel with other people, it is a good idea to make sure that each of your traveling companions AND each travel agent or salesperson of travel services you deal with knows aboutand understands — the importance of your special travel needs.

Before booking or paying for any travel services or accommodations, we recommend as follows:

1. Make your own checklist of special services that YOU might need. Here are a few examples:
Will you need a ramp to get on and off the plane (are steps a hassle for you?)
If there is going to be a plane change, will BOTH flights be accessible for you?
Will you need an aisle seat?
Will a place be available for convenient storage of those items you may need immediately, such as crutches, a wheelchair, walker, etc.?
Will you need "special diet" meals?
Will you need special accommodation for a Service Animal?
Will you need a hotel room with specific accessibility features?
Will you need a rental vehicle with special features?
(These are only a few suggestions. You will definitely want to make your own list.)
2. Now, find your best online deal for wherever you want to go, using our links, but don't book your reservations just yet. Keep the web page open that has the deal you want, and then do a little of your own detective work.

3. Before booking travel services, CALL EACH SERVICE PROVIDER DIRECTLY (i.e., the airline you plan to fly with, the hotel you plan to visit, the car rental company at your destination, etc., and NOT the travel broker or agency), and confirm by phone with a real human that each particular flight, cruise, hotel room, or rental vehicle that you plan to use will suitably accommodate your specific needs.

But DON'T book those services over the phone, if you can avoid it, because you will almost always be able to get the best deal online. So watch out for that booking agent on the phone who might try to switch you over to a more expensive plan.

4. Take good notes -- VERY IMPORTANT: As you talk with the various representatives of the various service providers you plan to do business with, keep notes on your conversations, including the names (and job titles, if possible) of each person you speak with, what you discussed, what they told you, and the date and time of your conversation.

5. Now get back online and get your best deal. Once you've determined that every leg of your trip is sufficiently accessible for your particular needs, return to the original web pages where you found those great deals you want, and book your travel services with confidence, knowing that: [a] you've gotten your best deal on the travel and lodging you want; and [b] the services you are buying will accommodate your special needs.

Have an enjoyable and safe barrier-free trip.

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