When embarking on any long-term travel excursion, you’re bound to experience the occasional hiccup, like misplaced luggage or language barriers. However, for people with disabilities, traveling the globe poses a unique set of risks and roadblocks, especially if you’re jetting off in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, many destinations are not accessible, with steep steps, cobblestone streets, and narrow passageways blocking wheelchair users from making the rounds on quintessential tourist destinations.
Fortunately, many cities across the globe do feature disability accommodations, with some integrating city-wide code forcing public facilities to restructure entrances, public transit, and walkways. If you’re a wheelchair user with a hunger for international travel, read on for five wheelchair-accessible destinations you can explore worry-free.
But first, stock up on long-term travel essentials
Once you’ve landed on a perfect location and purchased your ticket, you need to begin preparations by writing up a detailed packing list. While this may seem simple enough, planning for a long-term vacation can be stressful with limited space. Though a minimalist approach is best to avoid heavy luggage, you’ll still need to make room for items like laundry detergent, first aid kits, and solid soaps. That way, you can steer clear of foreign convenience stores that may not be accessible.
Additionally, try to tie off any loose ends before leaving, making sure to secure your property, contact your bank, and sign up for a digital mailbox service through iPostal1. Though it may not seem like a digital mailbox is essential, you can stop porch pirates in their tracks by rerouting packages to one of the thousands of international drop-off centers. Plus, you’ll have 24/7 access to your mail with their online app and helpful customer service.
Now that your long-term packing essentials are out of the way, here are five wheelchair-accessible destinations.
The first travel site on the list of wheelchair-friendly destinations is London, England. This city features black taxi cabs tailor-made for chair users, with built-in ramps, high door entrances, and spacious interiors to accommodate mobility aids. Additionally, tourist destinations like Buckingham Palace and the London Eye offer accessible routes, enabling wheelchair users to experience the city fully without fear of unfair restrictions.
Sitting at the top of the wheelchair-friendly destination master list is Melbourne, Australia. Not only does Melbourne have one of the most accessible public transport systems across the globe, but it also features infrastructure designed to accommodate disabled people. Between Philip Island’s wheelchair viewing area and a free downloadable mobility map courtesy of the City of Melbourne, you can navigate Melbourne with ease. Additionally, you can live out your beach-babe dream by signing up for surfing lessons through the Disabled Surfers Association of Australia, learning the craft from highly-trained professionals.
Another destination that prioritizes disability accommodations is Barcelona, Spain. This sunny city has made it a point to alter their public transport systems to include accessibility features, like elevators at every stop and ramps on 100% of busses. In addition to excellent transportation services, wheelchair users can navigate through the open air without worrying about cobblestone or step-off curbsides, as Barcelona features flat walkways and step-free areas.
Sitting alongside Melbourne as one of the most disability-friendly destinations on the map, Singapore may be the perfect destination for people with disabilities. City officials instated a barrier-free code that restricts public facilities from forgoing accessibility aids, like ramps, elevators, and even brail signage. Additionally, the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRT) fully accommodates wheelchair users.
If you’re looking for a long-term stay at a destination that actively prioritizes the needs of disabled people—specifically wheelchair users—keep an eye on Berlin, Germany. In 2013, the city of Berlin received the EU City Access Award after German officials instated a widespread disability policy protecting people with disabilities and mandating accessibility features. Now, Berlin has public transport accommodations at each stop, public venues are barrier-free, and nearly all tourist destinations are wheelchair-friendly.
Despite some cities falling short in terms of disability accommodations, there are plenty of destinations that prioritize the needs of disabled folks by implementing widespread accessibility features. Cities like Berlin, Melbourne, and Singapore—along with many others—offer ramps, flat walkways, and step-free curbs so wheelchair users can enjoy their prolonged stay without fear of extensive restrictions.