10 Tips for Planning an Accessible Vacation

MSAA recently asked Founder and Executive Director for Open Doors Organization, Eric Lipp, for advice on how to research and plan a wheelchair accessible trip. Read below for his 10 tips for planning an accessible vacation.

This is a great question and if you’re thinking about traveling this spring or summer, now is the time to start planning. You can never do enough due diligence! Also, I’ve never heard from a traveler, “I was over prepared!” Don’t be afraid to start at your front door and figure out the exact path of least resistance before you even leave the house. The right research may not only make life easier it will also leave you with options. The amount of online information available to help with your travel plans is truly amazing, but always remember, when in doubt pick up the phone and just ask!

Here are 10 tips to remember:

  1. Call the hotel directly. You may book via an app or website but be sure to call the hotel directly. Ask about accessible shuttles, roll-in showers, and open bed frames.
  2. Before you fly be sure to inform airline if you need wheelchair assistance, help with luggage, or unable to walk long distances.
  3. If you are having trouble or feel discriminated against by an airline or cruise line, ask for the CRO – Complaint Resolution Officer. They are specially trained on access and required to be made available during business hours.
  4. Often times accessibility at a Bed and Breakfast is questionable. Call ahead and have the manager or someone actually go into the accessible room(s). Have them look for specific aspects that fit your travel needs.
  5. Try UberWAV or UberAssist. UberWAV is for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. UberAssist is for a vehicle with a specially trained driver who will be able to fold up an assistive device and accommodate it in the trunk or car. They also have training with service animals.
  6. Call theaters, museums, and other tourist sites ahead of travel and ask highly specific questions. Many have assistive listening devices, trained docents, and wheelchairs for short term use.
  7. If you need any assistive device, special bed or Hoyer lift, they are available to rent by calling places like Special Needs at Sea, or ScootAround.
  8. All major car rental companies offer features such as spinner knobs, ramps, hand controls and large mirrors, but not accessible vehicles. Wheelchair Getaways/Accessible Vans and BraunAbility rent accessible vehicles.
  9. Know where the nearest pharmacy is located. Call for hours of operation and transfer any prescriptions if needed. States have different laws for obtaining some medication and/or some supplies.
  10. Take extras of everything! Extra clothes, meds, copies of your license/passport, and anything else that you might have trouble buying while on the road.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. May you have a safe, accessible, and enjoyable travel adventure this season!

MSAA would like to thank Eric Lipp for the generous contribution of these tips and to the Open Doors Organization for its outstanding support and advocacy for all persons with disabilities. To learn more about this organization, please visit their website at opendoorsnfp.org.

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About MSAA

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.


  • Mary M Thompson says:

    My husband and I travel to Europe every year. We’ve gotten the drill down, but as in most of the small hotels, which we love, you will find them fairly unfriendly to those of us handicapped. No elevators, mostly bathtubs. Accessible parking is increasing in the larger cities. In the smaller, older cities, expect lots of cobblestone roads with no sidewalks. It still makes me burst out laughing riding my scooter over the bumpy roads. Nearly all hotels have Internet, so you can write ahead with questions. Google Translate is very helpful, but you will find numerous people who speak excellent English. I always pack all my medication in duplicate in separate bags–carryon and checked. Be sure and take a detailed list of your meds When traveling in most European countries, you will find friendly and kind people willing to help. The most valuable thing you can bring with you is your sense of humor!

  • Greta James says:

    Thank you for the advice to call tourist sites ahead of time to find out what assistance they have. I am taking my aunt on a vacation, and I want to make sure she has a wonderful time. I think it would be smart for me to also rent an accessible vehicle that can help our trip go more smoothly. https://wheelersofhawaii.com/

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