A friend of mine happened to mentioned that her husband wanted to plan a vacation trip to Europe. She would love to go, but is reluctant because he has both health and mobility issues. She is naturally concerned that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the rest of the group. Well, perhaps all is not lost. I told her about an article that I read in The Herald (September 22, 2012) by travel expert Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com). This particular article was about traveling with limited mobility. It may take a little more thought and a lot more planning but it shouldn’t mean that you have to stay at home.
My daughter did a tour with a “Steves” group a few years ago and enjoyed it very much, but it was quite physical. I think we all associate budget travel with doing a lot of walking and stair climbing, but sometimes worrying about a budget just won’t do. Perhaps this is the time to really think about why you want to go. You may be tired of being an arm chair traveler and want to see the historical landmarks for the first time. On the other hand, you may just want to revisit special places for what you feel may be the last time. Regardless, it is worth the effort. I was pleased that this travel expert had given some thought to people with mobility issues. I enjoyed the article and am looking forward to reading his book: Easy Access Europe: A Guide for Travelers with Limited Mobility, written with Dr. Ken Plattner. The book was review by Christ Lombard in (Inside MS: June/July 2005) magazine and he was quite impressed. The authors have rated museums, cathedrals and restaurants for all levels of accessibility and also talked about tours, taxis and public transportation.
If you have trouble getting around or find that you tire easily, keep some of his basic recommendations in mind:
- Packing lightly
- Travel with a friend who can lend a hand and help with emergency and make excuses if you are too shy to speak up.
- Chose a modern hotel versus a picturesque pension if you need assistance or use of an elevator.
- Ask about public transportation. Some cities have excellent public transportation systems, but you may have to opt for a taxi.
- Museums often have wheelchairs and public elevators available, and tours are always good. Most tour guides are very patient and allot plenty of time. What’s the hurry anyway; the museums have been there for a very long time.
- Know what you can and cannot do. Sitting at a sidewalk café and visiting with the locals is an education it itself. You don’t have to climb every step or visit every monastery to feel culturally enriched. The chances are pretty good that you may enjoy this slower more thoughtful travel experience more than the people madly rushing around.