Travel Tips For Mobility Challenged Senior Travel in Europe
When the U.S. Department of State gives a heads up on their website regarding an increase in U.S. senior travel in Europe, it is time for the travel industry to sit up and take notice. There are specific needs more prevalent among the aging population not generally experienced by younger travelers. For example, mobility challenges are the most common disability senior citizens experience. Here are some tips for seniors traveling with mobility assistance devices.
Know Before You Go
The State Department has a page on their website specifically addressing the needs of travelers with disabilities. Although U.S. seniors may enjoy wide access to public spaces in their home country, such is not the case throughout Europe. There are some countries that are simply easier to get around. To find out about the access conditions of a country being considered as a destination, visit the interactive map on the State Department's website. It is easy to use. Simply zoom in on the country of choice, click and scroll. Users will discover information provided by the Consular's of that country regarding public conditions of safety, security, travel alerts, visa requirements, health and medical advisories.
Your Service Animal
Traveling with a service animal is another one of the "know before you go" issues. The U.S. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of all Americans and guests to be in public areas with their service animal. However, not all countries have such protections. Find out if your proposed destination has any restrictions regarding your service animal by visiting the web-page recommended by the State Department. Not only will you learn of local laws allowing or restricting service animals, but you will become familiar on local cultural norms and practices in how service animals are handled in public.
If you have ever traveled abroad you know that not all electrical outlets are equal. If you travel with an electric scooter or power chair, it will do you zero good if you cannot recharge. The same can be said for any other medical assistance aid requiring electricity such as: respirators, oxygen, etc. Here are the questions to resolve before packing electric mobility aids:
- Does your scooter, power chair or wheelchair break-down or disassemble easily? Remember, a European taxi may have a small storage compartment.
- Does your destination country feature accessible public spaces with ramped curbs, lifts on public transportation, adequate door widths into lodging facilities?
- If staying in a remote area, are electrical services reliable, enabling recharge on demand?
- Do you need an adapter for your mobility device's cord in order to use an electrical outlet at your destination?
- Will your mobility aide be rugged enough for the type of terrain you will be exploring?
- In your country of destination, are there qualified people who can repair your mobility device should the need arise?
Before you leave, in addition to standard international travel advice, such as packing extra medication and getting a medical check-up, the State Department advises all U.S. international travelers to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). In case of any emergency, the U.S. State Department, embassy and Consulate at your destination are all in the know of who you are and what your needs are.
Another part of being connected is simply making sure you have a mobile phone available while traveling aborad, even just for the sake of emergencies. Most US mobile phone service providers can give you advice specific to your service plan, and it pays to call them in advance to find out the tricks that save you money.
To ensure maximum mobility convenience while traveling in Europe, perhaps the best decision is to have your own wheels. Being independent with your own rental car prevents arriving at a location by public transportation and finding yourself stuck with nothing to do when you discover that your scooter is incompatible with a locale's accessibility. If you have your own wheels you can load up and go at your convenience to another interesting site to explore and tour. There is no waiting on a bus or taxi to arrive.
By reserving in advance before you embark on your trip, you can be assured that you are getting a car with a storage compartment large enough to hold your scooter or power chair. In fact, you can find exact specs on the autofrance website within each Peugeot vehicles specs page on all of the Peugeot vehicles from our fleet. When you book directly with the source (Auto France !) you are gauranteed the exact vehicle model you did your research on, not "somethign similar".
Please contact us for more information. We have been renting cars to independent travelers visiting Europe for more than 20 years. We would love to help you get around and see the sights.
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