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Tips from an expert
Tips from an expert

Travelling with Disabilities

Thursday, July 18, 2002
We speak to an expert to get the scoop and tips on travelling with disabilities.

Lyn Smith wrote to us wanting some tips for travelling with her husband who unfortunately is in a wheelchair after being involved in a motorcycle accident.

We have had so many enquiries about travelling with disabilities over the years, we decided it was time to put in some thorough research to see what progress has been made.

Firstly we spoke with Matt Laffan, who is wheelchair-bound, but that hasn't stopped him travelling the world.

Matt said his most important tip is research. It's an important tip for able-bodied people, but when you have a disability it becomes critical to know as much as possible about the place you are visiting. The success of your journey can depend on that.

Transport is a vital issue — will there be wheelchair-friendly transport on arrival? Are the places you want to visit able to accommodate a wheelchair? Try to find out how locals in the same situation get about.

Check out accommodation — how close is it to where you want to be? Are their bathrooms suitable? Is there somewhere nearby where you can rent any necessary equipment? If you need to take transport from your accommodation, can it take a wheelchair?

If travelling alone, see if there are any nursing or caring agencies available, and find out their costs.

Before leaving home, have your chair tuned up, just like a car. It's important that everything is running smoothly.

Matt has recommended a website for people with disabilities and their family and friends who wish to travel. He says the main elements are enthusiasm, confidence and enjoyment of the experience.

The website is:

We have come up with about 50 companies specialising in travel for people with disabilities.


e-bility Travel Spot:
  • Ability Travel: PO Box 91, NARWEE 2209. Intellectual disabilities with moderate to mild support needs — Australia and overseas — escorted by experienced staff (on 24 hour call). Tour cost does not include "one-to-one" care. Ph/fax: (02) 9534 5973. E-mail: NB: Ability Travel is currently in the process of organising tours for those with hearing impairment.
  • Independent Living Services: PO Box 1780, BONDI JUNCTION 1355. This is not a travel service as such, but offers attendant care for people with disabilities, particularly those visiting Australia. Overseas and interstate visitors can be met at the airport and have all care needs, including equipment, organised. The service offers travelling companions who are prepared to accompany any traveller all over Australia. Managing Director is Helen Mendels. Ph: (02) 9386 4363, Fax: (02) 9386 4376. Email:
  • J & P Australian Getaway Tours: PO Box 456, HORNSBY 2077. Tours planned for people with all kinds of disabilities and elderly people. Costs are all-inclusive. There is a registered nurse on all tours, and a carer on some. Ph: (02) 9456 7770, or 0419 794 497. Fax: (02) 9456 7771. E-mail: Web:
  • Respite Tours: PO Box 7218, LEURA 2780. For people with intellectual disabilities (no wheelchair access) and acquired brain injuries. Twenty-four hour care on 4:1 ratio provided — all meals, accommodation, activities etc included in trip price. Local and interstate trips. Ph: (02) 4782 7611. Fax: (02) 4782 7855.
  • WeCare Tours and Travel: PO Box 330, ST CLAIR 2759. All disabilities, all-inclusive costs, carers available. Wheelchair accessible bus with hoist. Managers Adel and Michelle Nigl. Ph: 0415 694103 (Adel), or 0408 384151 (Michelle). PH: (02) 9670 6668 & Fax: (02) 9670 4562. E-mail: Web:
  • Young Adults Disabled Association Inc.: PO Box 841, LIVERPOOL 2165. This is a self-supporting group for people over 16 with a disability. Every two years the group has a major tour within Australia or overseas, with numbers in excess of 150 people, from those with disabilities to friends and carers. Anyone can join the group, and be part of the holiday. Ph: (02) 9602 7808. Fax: (02) 9601 0080. E-mail:
  • Linmar Travel Consultancy: PO Box 175, SEVEN HILLS 1730. Agency that can arrange tours all over Australia and overseas for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Clients can book in on one of the many tours available, or a tour can be tailor-made to suit individual clients and their needs. Small group travel of four clients or one-on-one care available. Carer support and attendant care is available. Tour costs are all inclusive. Ph: (02) 9622 9010 or (02) 9676 2410. Fax: (02) 9622 9023.
  • Royal North Shore Hospital (Sydney) Activities Department, ST LEONARDS 2065. In addition to the many recreational activities offered, there is a travel program, offering a variety of tours from "safaris" to luxury coach and motels to suit travellers' needs. All tours are fully staffed. Ph: (02) 9926 8367. Fax: (02) 9926 7731. E-mail:
  • NRMA: 388 George St, SYDNEY 2000. Provides free urgent wheelchair repairs (for example flat battery or flat tyre) to members using a wheelchair. Ph: (roadside assistance) on Ph: 13 11 11.
  • Able Tasman Tours: PO Box 352, Mt. GRAVATT 4122. For people who are blind or vision impaired, 24 hour care service mainly for overseas travel. Costs are all-inclusive, hands-on attractions at a leisurely pace. Ph: (07) 3849 7086. E-mail:
  • Crossroads Qld: PO Box 13100, George St, BRISBANE 4003. A licensed travel agent. A Christian fellowship with people with disabilities: tours from day trips to four weeks, Australia and overseas, support services available. Ph: (07) 3229 9011. Fax: (07) 3220 0190. E-mail: Web:
  • Disabled Travel: PO Box 348, FORTITUDE VALLEY 4006. Travel consultants specialising in travel within Australia and overseas for people with disabilities. Have access to specials and deals from major airline companies, cruise ship companies and accommodation. Contact David Alker or Anthony Sproule (NB: Both are travel consultants with disabilities). Ph: (07) 3257 4050. Fax: (07) 3257 4050. E-mail:
  • Dunkleys Coaches and Tours: 34 Shennan Street TOOWOOMBA 4350. Accessible tours for people with mobility restrictions, using a bus with a hoist. Tours range from half day to interstate "safaris". One male and one female helper on all tours. Staff available to assist travellers plan their holiday. Ph: (07) 4630 2566 Fax: (07) 4630 2366. E-mail:
  • Australian Easy Access Tours: offers tours across Australia for those with disabilities. Ph: (07) 4630 2566 Fax: (07) 4630 2366.
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