Wheelchair Travel - Best Tours & Trips 2019
Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Top Wheelchair Travel Experiences
Seeing the world go by in luxury aboard a small ship or river cruise
Marveling at the great cathedrals in Europe
Enjoying the brisk air and wild landscapes of Scotland and Ireland
Going on safari and witnessing incredible wildlife
Taking in the majesty of New Zealand
Observing the unbelievable species variation on the Galapagos Islands
Enjoying a long leisurely al fresco lunch at a cafe in Rome
Wheelchair Travel Trip Reviews
4 Wheelchair Travel Tour Reviews - Summary 100% Recommend
Wheelchair Travel Tours and Travel Guide
Wheelchair Travel Attractions & Landmarks Guide
There are very few travel experiences, really, that are not accessible to wheelchair travelers. If you choose your tour company wisely, almost any destination is open to you. Of course some are easier than others, and some will present unique challenges. But many wheelchair accessible tours are available, making the world easier to see than you may think.
It will start with the mode of travel you’re looking for. A top consideration is cruising. We suggest a small ship or river cruise for the intimacy and personalized service they can provide. Another popular option is train journeys, where you can cover long distances among varying terrain, from mountainous to desert.
Small Ship or River Cruise with a Wheelchair
Physical Level: Very Easy
Top Operators: Croisi, Silversea, AMA Waterways, Cunard
By far, one of the most popular options will be a European River Cruise. Here you can relax, only unpacking once, and enjoying easy access between the boat sections, decks, dining areas, and staterooms. Imagine wonders of Europe drifting by as you enjoy delicious local wines and cuisines.
River cruise vessels by design are slim and low, which gives them the ability to traverse smaller tributaries and sail beneath low bridges. This does mean that not all will have elevators however, so while you may be able to travel in a wheelchair, your access to the upper viewing deck may be limited.
It is also highly recommended that wheelchair travelers have a travel companion who can help, especially in situations such as disembarking at ports, where gangways aren’t always the most sturdy.
If you’d like to travel farther afield than the classic European rivers, to say, the Amazon, this is possible, but remember that these trips will by definition be more rustic.
Small ship cruises are similar to river cruises in the intimate feel they provide, but may be a bit more comfortable and spacious. They will also have more room size options.
Custom or Luxury Safari with a Wheelchair
Physical Level: Easy
Top Operators: Ker & Downey, Abercrombie & Kent, Rothschild Safaris
Luxury safaris are a fantastic way to experience Africa while traveling in comfort. Many safari lodges have spas where after a long dusty day on the savannah, you can relax and become rejuvenated for the next day’s adventures. Rooms are spacious and you may have a private veranda where you can enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail as the sun sets.
Game drives on safari are usually very bumpy and long. If this is not something you think you'll be able to manage as a wheelchair traveler, consider using a custom tour operator. They can work with the local guides to arrange shorter drives over more even terrain. These tours are designed to cater to your interests, so if wildlife viewing is important to you, they'll help craft an itinerary that uses the best possible routes for maximum enjoyment.
Train Journey with a Wheelchair
Physical Level: Very Easy
Top Operators: Rocky Mountaineer, Great Rail Journeys, Abercrombie & Kent
One of the best ways to see the world for wheelchair travelers, particularly older travelers, is by rail. Imagine climbing up the alps, or seeing the great Rocky Mountain range pass by through enormous windows, designed to give you the best, up close and personal viewing experience possible. Luxury travel by train, in private staterooms and with personal service, is a throwback to an era not yet completely bygone.
Something to keep in mind however is that train platforms around the world are not created equal. Many are very old and may not be entirely friendly to wheelchairs. For this reason, be sure to contact the tour company for the trip you’re considering to make sure the stops along the way will not be too difficult to navigate.
Other things to keep in mind when traveling in a wheelchair
Many European towns are difficult to traverse for wheelchair travelers, due to unevenly placed cobblestones. While not impossible, if constant bumps don't sound appealing, consider a tour or river cruise that travels smoother roads. Additionally, older cities and attractions are not always accessible.
Some of the best cities in Europe for wheelchairs, according to popular disability travel resource Sage Traveling, include Barcelona, Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, and London.
Don't assume that all hotels, attractions, and transportation options will be wheelchair accessible around the world. There are not as many legal requirements in place for destinations to be fully accessible world wide. So it will be a good idea to call ahead and speak with the tour operator and ask if the accommodations and transportation along the way will be wheelchair friendly. Also, especially in Europe, spaces such as restaurants, are smaller and not designed to accept wheelchairs.
This does not mean you shouldn't go on a river cruise or tour that happens to have excursions to certain places less friendly to wheelchairs. But you may need to opt out of certain activities, so balance how much of this you'd be willing to do against the travel experience as a whole.
All Wheelchair accessible tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventures. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 5.0 for all Wheelchair Travel trips.