I have always taken for granted the ability to get in the car, grab a train or jump on a plane and go anywhere across the entire world without ever having to consider whether my destination will be accessible for me. For avid travellers like myself, the bucket list is endless and it varies dramatically from seeing the Northern Lights, to exploring the Amazon Rainforest or admiring ancient sites like Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal.
Now ask yourself, would that list be any different for the avid disabled travellers among us? It has never crossed my mind to ask questions like, ‘Is the Great Wall of China wheelchair-friendly?’ I think it is about time we all start thinking about the accessibility of travel destinations, because everyone deserves to complete their bucket list.
This little safehaven below the Golden Coast has got the big thumbs up from a lot of disabled travellers for being an accessible and wonderful city to travel to. Although it means powering on through the excessively long-haul flight, which of course no one enjoys, it is worth it. Transportation around the city is considered to be very accessible and hassle-free and even the ferries have wheelchair-friendly ramps, which mean trips out to sea are a must! During an initiative to make the city even more inclusive, the council installed more than 2,100 tactile and braille street signs which among other places, are next to push buttons at every pedestrian crossing.
Tel Aviv, Israel
All avid travellers want to go beyond their culture and emerge themselves in something new because lets face it, curiosity is what fuels us. Tel Aviv is a metropolitan city on the Mediterranean coast, which means paradise beaches, a variety of shops and incredible food. Transport wise Tel Aviv is excellent, most intercity buses have wheelchair access and various technologies like that help visually-impaired individuals. The best part, however, is the strict rules enforced that make sure all new buildings are wheelchair accessible and most stores and restaurants are equipped with ramps. The city is also home to a range of hotels that offer disabled-friendly rooms, with wider doors and bigger bathtubs.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
According to the travel experts, Lonely Planet, Playa del Carmen is a perfect destination. Probably not the most well-known of places but the little town is situated about an hour from Cancun, and is considered by many to be paradise. The beach has been specifically furnished to be accessible and even includes beach wheelchairs. Also, the local water-sport businesses have adaptive equipment available for customers to use to facilitate snorkelling even if they cannot swim, which means turtle watching and gazing in amazement at the coral reef is definitely on the cards. Furthermore, if you want to do something to engage your historical curiosity then very close by there are the Mayan archaeological sites, Chichén Itzá and Tulum. This is also wheelchair friendly and gives you the ultimate chance to take in the ancient ruins in all their glory.
The capital of Germany has made tremendous progress in making sure its city is accessible for everyone over the last few years. Back in 2013, Berlin even won the EU City Access Award to praise the effort put in to make the city accessible for all, for example, most theatres and museums are wheelchair friendly as well as the majority of restaurants and bars. This is excellent news for travellers because the city of Berlin is a popular bucket list entry, mainly for its rich political history but also for the incredible scenic background, especially in autumn.
If you ask anyone what their top 10 bucket list destinations are, there is a 99% probability that Italy will fall on that list. There are so many incredible Italian cities, but Milan, in particular, comes out very high on the rankings. Milan is, in fact, a far more recent winner of the 2016 EU Access City Awards and a very deserving winner at that. The local council put masses of effort in last year to create an inclusive city, one of the main projects being to make sure all barrier were removed on their public transportation system for disabled and elderly individuals. You’ll be able to explore some of the most impressive architectural structures in the world and blow all your holiday funds on good hearty Italian pizza, what’s not to love?
San Diego, USA
Nowadays the majority of the USA is accessible, which is perfect for travellers because a good few of the big bucket list items belong there. San Diego, in particular, has been recommended for disabled travellers. The city is generally flat all around and laid out in an easy grid system, which makes the terrain ideal for wheelchair users. Also, there is an accessible tram system that runs throughout the entire city which means getting from A to B will be no hassle. All the touristy sites are accessible, from the Gaslamp Quarter to the San Diego Zoo but the best part is the accessible beachfront. The promenade has beach wheelchairs available to use and at Mission Beach, there are caterpillar tracks so motorized ones can be used which is just brilliant.