What countries are the most wheelchair-friendly for travelers?
August 1, 2012 7:40 AM Subscribe
Have wheelchair, will travel. My husband and I want to see the world! He uses a (manual) wheelchair. What countries are the most wheelchair-friendly?
My husband and I are both young, healthy, unencumbered and ready to see the world. Yay! However, we have the added complication that he uses a (manual, non-electric) wheelchair to get around. We're both passionate about travelling and seeing the world however, so I'm looking for recommendations of countries that are especially wheelchair-friendly or at least don't lock their disabled in a closet and pretend they don't exist.
Since the ADA doesn't exist outside the U.S., we're always a little hesitant making vacation plans because we're never positive just how easy it will be to get around with a wheelchair. I've made trips by myself through countries that were amazing but would be positively crappy for even the most intrepid wheelchair-user (Malaysia). We don't need much, but I'd love to know what countries encourage cities with curb cuts and don't block anything interesting with a flight of stairs.
My mate is passionate and independent and a kick-ass guy. It's important to me that he feel included and confident where-ever we go. We want to have our adventures together.
Other relevant details:
He's incredibly independent, healthy, and mobile. He can transfer easily in and out of seats, scale small steps/curbs if there's something to hold on to, and attempt uneven surfaces.
He can stand for short periods, but he needs something to hold onto due to absolutely no balance.
Planes are no problem. We're pro flyers and know just to expect longer layovers.
His preferred chair doesn't fold but does come apart and fit in back of most taxi cab trunks in the U.S. He has a chair that folds but prefers not to use it right now because it's so heavy/clunky. He'll use it if a folding chair is the only way to do a tour/bus/whatever. (Planning on getting him a better folding one soon.)
We rarely ask for "accessible" hotel rooms because they're usually the worst in the hotel. We do fine in regular rooms as long as it's not so tiny and cramped that he can't get the chair in.
He's, again, really independent and stubborn so the idea of hiring a helper or sherpa-type assistance makes him cringe. We might do that when we're older but we'd prefer to travel unassisted for now.
We love exploring cities, eating new food, checking out history/art and going on outings/tours. I'm more outdoorsy so if parks/beaches have paved paths, that's a bonus.
Our next trip is planned to Australia, which I imagine will be pretty easy in the cities. But where should we head next? Is most of modern Europe wheelchair friendly? Any particularly modernized parts of Asia? Thanks for your advice!