The resources you need to have an unforgettable Aussie holiday in 2021!
With most international travel off the cards for at least the rest of the year, we’ll be looking within our own borders for getaways in 2021 (fingers crossed for no more border closures!).
And while there’s no shortage of breath-taking destinations in Oz, there is, sadly, not a whole lot of information about how accessible they are for people with a disability.
27-year-old Stacey, Communications Officer at Aruma and avid traveller, was so frustrated at the lack of reliable travel information for fellow wheelchair users, that she decided to start her own disability travel blog, Love Moxie.
“I started my blog because there was no central location to go and find accessibility information,” she says. “When I was planning my travels, I’d spend such a long time looking up different websites and using Google Translate to translate accessibility information into English. I started planning my trip around Europe two years in advance!”
Thankfully, with a little insider knowledge from travellers like Stacey, there are smarter ways to get accessible travel information when planning this year’s Aussie trip. Here’s our pick.
While many hotels or attractions may call themselves ‘accessible’, it can mean different things to different people. Reading other people’s experiences is a great way to find out if it’s suitable for you.
“On sites like Tripadvisor or Booking.com you can look up reviews of hotels that mark themselves as ‘accessible’,” advises Stacey. “Often I’ll put ‘wheelchair’ in the search and that will come up with any related reviews – and I might get a useful review like, ‘My husband uses a wheelchair it was great’.”
Travel reviews from bloggers can also spark some inspo for your trip. “I’ve found so many other wheelchair users who are blogging about travel,” says Stacey. “Their blogs are amazing, and they share so much great advice about accessible travel.”
Have Wheelchair, will Travel is a great little blog, written by former travel agent Julia, whose son BJ has cerebral palsy. There’s a section all about accessible travel in Australia, with tips on attractions, accommodation and destinations – all road-tested by her family. Freewheel Weekends, by wheelchair user Ryan Smith, is also packed with handy information of experiences within Australia, particularly Melbourne.
While an attraction may not list themselves as being accessible, simply asking the question can open up loads of new possibilities. “Accessibility can be the built environment, but often it’s people’s attitudes and their willingness to assist or adapt things,” says Stacey.
“One of my best trips was dog sledding at Mount Buller. While it wasn’t promoted as wheelchair accessible, what made it accessible was their willingness to adapt. We could drive our car all the way up to the dog sled, and they were ready to assist and make sure I was comfortable and safe on the sled.”
That said, of course an accessible environment is also incredibly important! Picking up the phone and talking with the organisers/staff will also reveal more information that you often won’t find on a website, such as are there any steps? How wide are the doorways? Are ramps provided, etc.
Stacey on her dog sledding adventure
Before you set off, load your phone up with some terrific apps like these:
App Store | Google Play
In 2018, Airbnb released 21 new accessibility features including step-free access, wide entryways, roll-in shower and specialist equipment. About time we say! When searching for a property, click on the ‘filters’ icon and scroll down to the Accessibility. Here you can choose the features that are important to you.
Be My Eyes connects people with vision loss who need assistance with sighted volunteers via a video connection. This is perfect if you’re travelling to new destinations – simply connect to a volunteer via live video call in the app, and they’ll point you towards the best café in town!
Wheelmate is a free app that pinpoints accessible toilets and parking spaces on an interactive map, and shows you how to get there. The info is added by wheelchair users themselves, so you know it can be trusted. As it’s only recently taken off here in Australia, some locations may not yet be covered – which is why you should download and get to adding!
For more nifty apps, visit our blog on Apps for people with a disability.
One of Stacey’s favourite Australian travel destinations – Echuca, Victoria
Or, if you’d rather sit back and have the experts plan your holiday for you – you can do that too! “Accessible tours are definitely a good option as you know they are guaranteed to be wheelchair accessible,” says Stacey. “They can be a little more pricey, because there’s less people on the tour, but you’re not going to get any nasty surprises.”
There are many great accessible travel companies in Australia that tailor to different needs. Travability is a Victorian Travel Agency that offers services such as planning, booking flight and hotels, cruising holidays, and escorted group tours in Australia and around the world.
Stellar Experiences, based in The Gold Coast and Sydney, specialises in social events and holidays for young adults (18-35) with mild-to-moderate disabilities. From Trivia and Tacos at a Sydney pub, to a Central Coast Trip, to a ‘Melbourne Footy Fanatics Trip Away’, there’s something for all tastes!
Time to get planning!
Tourism Australia: Accessible Tourism
Travel Without Limits Magazine
Global Ballooning: Easy Access Basket
iFLY indoor skydiving
Accessible Great Barrier Reef
CHOICE: Travelling with a disability
*Photos courtesy of Stacey
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