If you’re a traveler with a disability, you know how difficult and inflexible the travel industry could be pre-pandemic. Cancellation and change fees made adapting your plans to suit your disability prohibitively expensive, and you could also find yourself in situations where accessibility concerns are not prioritized. However, the coronavirus pandemic has made tour operators around the world rethink the way they conduct their tours, and we’re seeing positive steps being taken to help accommodate travelers with disabilities. If the travel industry keeps up with this and makes these changes permanent, we’re on the verge of a new revolution in travel accessibility. Here are a few ways travel is becoming more accessible.
Flexible Booking and Cancellation
The onset of the pandemic earlier this year forced travel companies all over the world to change their policies to be more flexible by reducing or eliminating change/cancellation fees. Now some companies are extending these policies in an effort to win back customers – and with this change, more travelers with disabilities should feel comfortable booking a trip or an experience without worrying about what their conditions might be closer to the date.
Focus on Safety and Accessibility
Of course, some of the biggest changes to everyday life were the measures we have taken to keep people safe and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Physical distancing, wearing masks, contactless payment – all of these were done in an effort to increase safety. The travel industry was also quick to adopt many of these safety practices, some of which inadvertently increased accessibility. For example, replacing regular doors with automatically opening doors is a safe move to limit the spread of the virus, but inadvertently it also makes a building more accessible to those with a mobility disability.
Easier to Navigate Public Space
Especially in big cities, social distancing guidelines have created more space that travelers with disabilities need to be able to navigate more easily. With smaller, or even a total lack, of crowds and reduced capacity in elevators and flights, public spaces have never been more accessible.
As those in the tourism industry contend with the absence of out-of-town visitors, many are beginning to look inward for new business and tailoring new tour options specifically for residents of the area. In addition, virtual access is becoming more common, with video tours, streaming, and even VR allowing anyone from anywhere in the world to see what they otherwise couldn’t. These are both fantastic developments especially for those whose disabilities prevent them from traveling long distances, and this infrastructure required for each should persist long after the world is back to normal.
Explore the World with AESU!
Are you ready to plan an adventure of a lifetime? AESU offers unique, thrilling travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group.
Looking to travel next year? Experience our brand-new domestic tours with beautiful destinations such as the California Wine Country, Nashville Music City, The Wild Wild West, and Outdoor Wonderland – British Columbia!
2021 tour dates are now available! If you have any questions or want help booking your next adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640, or fill out the contact form found on our website. Follow AESU on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.