Going Abroad as a Physically Disabled Person

Published 2011-06-21 13:24:42

Handicap © Studio DER - Fotolia It is estimated that more than 1 billion people in the world are living with some sort of disability,  about 15 percent of the world's population. Being disabled offers all sorts of challenges that can be exacerbated in unfamiliar situations. This is especially true for people traveling or living abroad. Despite these difficulties, many people with physical handicaps are able to travel and live anywhere they want.

Common Issues

Transportation is one of the most difficult problems to overcome. From uneven sidewalks, to the lack of elevators to inadequate seating, moving around a foreign country can be especially difficult.

Elevators are an invention of the developed world. Many places throughout the world can only be accessed by stairs.

Hotels and theaters may have limited or non-existent handicapped facilities.

Further alienation from the place and people you are traveling among.

Common Solutions

There are so many different disabilities, that not all solutions work for every person. The biggest obstacle to get over, is the obstacles in the mind. Try not to view these as insurmountable issues, but problems to figure out.

Research before you go. Obviously, developing nations have the most issues for the disabled, but challenges are everywhere. Before you show up at an appointment- call ahead and confirm you can access the office. When reserving transportation or entertainment tickets, ask about the venue or services and make sure it is accessible. Special discounts may also be offered. Check on hotel facilities when reserving. Also know about physician availability, especially if you require a specialist. Your doctor, insurance company or local embassy can be a great resource for finding a physician at your destination.

Always feel free to ask for help. Many people are not actively prejudiced, but just don't have proper facilities.

If you use special equipment like a wheelchair, keep it fully serviced to avoid problems. Also- find a local repair or medical supply store before you have an issue so if anything comes up you're ready. Make sure you have travel/medical insurance to cover costs, and a doctor's note and phone number. It can be helpful to travel with a statement from your doctor covering your condition, medications, potential complications and other pertinent information.

Champion progress. By being a positive model of physical limitations, you can bring a face to the difficulties you encounter and put pressure on the powers that be to improve facilities.


Luckily there are many excellent resources in countries that offer a difficult environment. Looking up "physically disabled travel in ________" usually results in very helpful travel agencies and groups.

A valuable resource is forums, where people can discuss experiences, issues and solutions. Go to EasyExpat forums to exchange stories, tips, and advice.

There are also specialized resources, tours and travel groups around the world.




  • Wheelie Easy - Supported Holidays and Tours in the Cairns region of Tropical
  • Accessible kiwi Tours - Completely custom trips for groups, families, or individuals.
  • Ambleside Tours - family owned and operated specialized tour company, who provides the opportunity for persons with disabilities to travel within Australia. Ambleside Tours also welcomes visitors with disabilities from overseas.
  • UCANN Tours - Your choice for travel arrangements with a personal touch - Wheelchair tours, accessibility holidays and vacations in New Zealand. Individual or group itinerary planning and travel packages with accessible hotels and transport for the disabled and handicapped. Cruises available as well.


  • Sage Traveling - Comprehensive Accessibility Information for the European Traveler
  • Accessible Italy - has been organizing tours and tourism services for individuals with disabilities since 1995.
  • Accessible Italy is A non-profit that helps foreign tourists with disabilities to plan their Italian holidays.
  • I Need A Holiday Too - accessible and supported holidays to disabled people in La Roche Derrien, Brittany, France.
  • Sol Mobility - Gran Canaria, Canary Islands serving the needs of mobility impaired visitors

Middle East

North America

  • Accessible Canadian Adventures - designs, coordinates and arranges hunting, fishing and wildlife photography adventures
  • Medical Travel Inc - Medical Travel, Inc. / The Disability Travel Experts is A Full Service Medical Travel Agency that caters to patients with Special Medical Needs, their families and friends. Our office arranges Cruises and Land Vacations for Dialysis Patients, Patients with Respiratory Problems, Wheelchair Bound Travelers and for Families that require Special Medical Needs Travel
  • Easy Access Travel - Easy Access Travel specializes in Cruise Vacations and Packaged Land Trips to Accessible Destinations. We handle all aspects of your trip and our knowledgeable staff can offer many tips and suggestions to insure a safe and smooth journey.
  • Outta Sight Travel - Outta Sight Travel is the beginning of dreams come true. Many people have had the desire to take a dream vacation, but thought that it could never become a reality. The staff at Outta Sight Travel can steer you in the right direction. With their combined expertise they can assist you in planning a vacation that goes beyond the visual realm.
  • Disabled NYC - Resources, accessibility information, and local news for people with disabilities living or traveling in New York City
  • Los Angeles Tourist Accessibility Guide

South America

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Moving Abroad

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