Accessible travel tips for exploring Australia in 2022
With the holiday season fast approaching but overseas travel still risky, our participants are looking for getaways closer to home this summer.
While there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring destinations in Australia, there is a disappointing lack of information about how accessible they are for people with a disability.
Thankfully, our team of participant coordinators (all avid travellers) have shared a few insider tips about finding accessible travel information for your next Aussie trip.
Read reviews from other travellers with a disability
While many hotels or attractions may call themselves accessible, they can mean different things. We’ve all seen so-called ‘accessible’ hotels with no lift and top destinations with rickety ramps and unsafe railings.
Reading other people’s feedback is a practical way to determine if a destination suits your needs.
Websites such as Airbnb, Tripadvisor or Booking.com, allow you to search reviews of hotels that mark themselves as ‘accessible’. It’s often helpful to type ‘wheelchair’ in the search, which will come up with any related reviews.
In fact, in 2018, Airbnb released more than 20 new accessibility features to help you search for accessible holiday properties. Simply click on the filters icon and scroll down to the accessibility. You can choose the essential features, such as wide entryways, roll-in shower, step-free access, and specialist equipment.
Travel reviews from bloggers and social media influencers can also be a helpful place to start your holiday planning. More and more people living with a disability are blogging about their travel experiences. They provide so much insight into the benefits and pitfalls of accessible travel.
We love Freewheel Weekends by Ryan Smith for handy travel tips for wheelchair users, mainly focused on Melbourne and Victoria. While Have Wheelchair, Will Travel is fantastic for researching family holidays, all road-tested by Julia and her family. Julia is a former travel agent whose son BJ lives with cerebral palsy.
Choice also has a tremendous accessible travel section with practical and convenient advice about accommodation, air travel, toilets, car hire and other holiday essentials.
Ramp access is important, but it’s not everything.
While a holiday destination may not list itself as accessible, simply asking the question can uncover plenty of surprising options.
When people think about accessibility, they often think about the built environment. However, people’s attitudes and their willingness to make minor changes can make the most significant impact.
Suppose your dream destination or tourist attraction isn’t listed as accessible. In that case, it never hurts to pick up the phone and talk to the operators. Ask a few questions before striking it from your travel plans.
Have you ever heard the saying ‘there’s an app for that? Before you set off, head to the app store and load your smartphone with some accessible travel apps like these:
Spinal Life’s free Accessible Australia app is an online resource that gives you the ability to read and write personal reviews of places you visit. Fantastic for firsthand feedback and information.
AccessNow is an app that allows users to search, rate, discover and filter accessible places local to you.
Wheelmate is a free app that allows wheelchair users to mark accessible toilets and parking spaces on an interactive map, so other people can find them. It’s a big country and a new app, so some Aussie locations may not be covered yet.
HelpTalk assists people who are non-verbal to talk to other people by creating sets of actions that represent their everyday needs. Great for travellers who need a bit of help to communicate.
Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is an app connecting people with vision loss who need assistance with sighted volunteers via a video connection.
Getaboutable is a global information sharing platform, similar to Trip Advisor, but designed for people with disability.
Try a tour
If you’d prefer to have an expert plan your holiday for you – you can do that too!
Accessible tours are a good option because they are guaranteed to be wheelchair accessible. They can be more expensive, but you’re not going to get any nasty shocks along the way.
There are many accessible travel companies in Australia tailored to different needs such as planning, booking flights and hotels, cruising holidays, and group tours in Australia and worldwide.
Travel with Lifely
Did you know your Participant Coordinator can also help you plan a holiday? You simply need to give them a call, and they can support you to design a getaway from start to finish, including:
- Holiday planning.
- Budgeting, using NDIS funding or your own money.
- Booking accommodation and transport.
- Organising one-on-one supports.
We also regularly bring travellers from across the region together for small group adventures and camps to popular destinations in Victoria and interstate.
Time to get planning!