Most disabilities shouldn't stop anyone from traveling, even in the South Pacific islands, where ramps, handles, accessible toilets, automatic opening doors, telephones at convenient heights, and other helpful aids in Western countries are just beginning to appear.
Some hotels provide rooms specially equipped for people with disabilities. Such improvements are ongoing; I have pointed out some of them in this book, but inquire when making a reservation whether such rooms are available.
The major international airlines make special arrangements for handicapped persons. Be sure to tell them of your needs when you reserve. Although most local airlines use small planes that are not equipped for disabled passengers, their staffs go out of their way to help everyone get in and out of the craft.
Organizations that offer a vast range of resources and assistance to disabled travelers include MossRehab (tel. 800/CALL-MOSS [225-56677]; www.mossresourcenet.org); the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) (tel. 800/232-5463; www.afb.org); and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality) (tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org). AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency.
Access-Able Travel Source (tel. 303/232-2979; www.access-able.com) offers a database on travel agents from around the world with experience in accessible travel; destination-specific access information; and links to such resources as service animals, equipment rentals, and access guides.
Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Among them are Flying Wheels Travel (tel. 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com); and Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com).
Flying with Disability (www.flying-with-disability.org) is a comprehensive information source on airplane travel. Avis Rent a Car (tel. 888/879-4273) has an "Avis Access" program that offers services for customers with special travel needs. These include specially outfitted vehicles with swivel seats, spinner knobs, and hand controls; mobility scooter rentals; and accessible bus service. Be sure to reserve well in advance.
Also check out the quarterly magazine Emerging Horizons (www.emerginghorizons.com), available by subscription ($17 per year in the U.S.; $22 outside U.S).
The "Accessible Travel" link at Mobility-Advisor.com offers a variety of travel resources to disabled persons.
British travelers should contact Holiday Care (tel. 0845/124-9971 in UK only; www.holidaycare.org.uk) to access a range of travel information and resources for disabled and elderly people.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.