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The Rise of Accessible Travel: Embracing Inclusion for Families

accessible travel airlines autism-friendly cruise lines disabilities family travel hotels inclusive vacations resorts sensory-friendly special needs travel theme parks wheel chair accessibility May 26, 2023


Traveling with your family is an incredible experience, but it hasn't always been easy for families with diverse needs. Fortunately, a new era of accessible travel is on the rise, making it more inclusive and enjoyable for everyone. Airlines, cruise lines, theme parks, hotels, and resorts are stepping up their game to provide comprehensive services and amenities that cater to the unique needs of families. In this article, we'll explore the exciting progress made in accessible travel and how it's shaping a future where all families can embark on unforgettable adventures together.

Airlines: Smooth Skies for All Families

When it comes to family vacations, airlines have taken the lead in making travel more accessible for everyone. They understand the challenges families face and have implemented various measures to ensure a comfortable and stress-free flight.

For starters, airlines have introduced wheelchair assistance and pre-boarding for families with children, making the journey smoother and more convenient. They've also worked on enhancing in-flight amenities to accommodate different needs. Some airlines now provide audio descriptions of movies and TV shows for visually impaired passengers. They even offer gluten-free and kosher meal options for those with dietary restrictions.

But it doesn't stop there. Airlines have gone the extra mile by creating dedicated programs and services specifically designed for families with special needs, such as autism. For example, Delta Airlines offers "quiet rooms" in their airport lounges. These rooms provide a calming and sensory-friendly environment for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Another remarkable initiative is the TSA Cares program, which provides additional support and assistance to passengers with disabilities or medical conditions during the security screening process. By calling the TSA Cares helpline in advance, families can get information and ask questions about screening procedures, ensuring a smoother experience.

When booking your family vacation, keep in mind that many airlines now offer the option to use the code DPNA (Disabled Passenger with Intellectual or Developmental Disability Needing Assistance). This code helps airlines identify travelers with specific needs and provide them with extra support throughout their journey. These efforts by airlines demonstrate their commitment to making travel more accessible for families like yours.

Cruise Lines: Sailing Towards Inclusive Adventures

Cruise lines have also recognized the importance of inclusivity in travel and have taken significant steps to ensure that everyone can enjoy a fantastic vacation at sea.

Take Royal Caribbean, for example. They have implemented the Autism Friendly Ships program, which offers trained staff, sensory-friendly toys and activities, and even dietary accommodations for individuals with autism. They've also made their ships more accessible with wheelchair ramps and improved access to various areas onboard.

Carnival is another cruise line that has made impressive progress in accessible travel. Their Access  program provides comprehensive accessibility information for passengers, mobility aids and equipment rental, wheelchair-accessible shore excursions, and a range of accessibility features onboard their ships.

But it doesn't end there. Carnival Cruise Line has recently partnered with KultureCity to become a sensory-inclusive cruise line. This means they provide sensory bags for guests with sensory processing issues, including noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys, and other sensory items. They also offer sensory screenings for films shown onboard and have trained their staff to better assist guests with sensory needs. By taking these steps, Carnival Cruise Line is ensuring a welcoming and accommodating environment for all families, regardless of their individual needs. It's clear that cruise lines are going above and beyond to create an enjoyable and inclusive vacation experience.

Theme Parks: Thrills Tailored to Your Family

Theme parks have a special place in every family's heart, but they can present unique challenges for families with disabilities. Thankfully, many theme parks have made significant efforts to ensure that their attractions are accessible to everyone.

Sesame Place, located in Pennsylvania, has become the first theme park designated as a Certified Autism Center. They've trained their staff on how to best accommodate visitors with autism and have made adjustments throughout the park to reduce sensory triggers. Sesame Place also offers quiet rooms where visitors can take a break from the excitement and sensory stimulation.

In Florida, Discovery Cove has also achieved the Certified Autism Center status. This all-inclusive day resort and animal interaction park provide specially designed outdoor wheelchairs with oversized tires, making it easier for visitors to navigate the beach. Their staff has also received training to assist visitors with disabilities in a respectful and compassionate manner.

Aquatica® Orlando, the world's first water park to become a certified autism center, has made changes to their attractions to ensure a more inclusive experience. They provide sensory guides for each ride, allowing visitors to prepare for any loud noises, bright lights, or other sensory inputs.

More recently, LEGOLAND Florida Resort has become the first theme park resort to obtain the Certified Autism Center status. They've introduced quiet rooms for visitors who may need a break and offer staff training on how to best assist visitors with disabilities.

These incredible efforts by theme parks are making it easier for families with members who have disabilities to enjoy their attractions and create unforgettable memories. As more parks become Certified Autism Centers and implement accessibility measures, we can look forward to a more inclusive future for family travel.

Hotels and Resorts: Unwinding in Comfort

Hotels and resorts are also playing their part in making travel more accessible and enjoyable for families. They understand that a comfortable stay is crucial for creating lasting memories.

One significant initiative in the industry is the development of accessible rooms. These rooms are thoughtfully designed with wider doorways, lower beds, and roll-in showers to accommodate guests with mobility impairments. Many hotels also offer amenities like tactile way finding systems and braille signage to assist guests in navigating the property with ease.

Sensory-friendly accommodations are also gaining popularity among hotels. These rooms feature soft lighting, noise-cancelling curtains, and other sensory-friendly elements to create a calm and soothing atmosphere for guests with sensory sensitivities. Some hotels even provide sensory kits with items like fidget toys and noise-cancelling headphones to enhance the comfort of their guests.

To better assist guests with disabilities, hotels and resorts are investing in staff training. This includes disability awareness training, accessible transportation options, and information about local attractions and activities that are accessible to all.

In conclusion, the rise of accessible travel brings hope and excitement to families with diverse needs. Airlines, cruise lines, theme parks, hotels, and resorts are going above and beyond to create a more inclusive future for family travel. By providing comprehensive services, accessible amenities, and well-trained staff, they ensure that every family can embark on unforgettable adventures together. So pack your bags, create beautiful memories, and let the joy of accessible travel bring your family closer than ever before.

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