Accessible travel in 2022: The highlights

As the end of the year approaches, I feel it’s time to highlight a few examples of best practice. I’m sharing some of the stand-out experiences we’ve had with our son who lives with a disability.

Julie Jones, Travel Without Limits

IN MY series of stories this year I’ve shared my thoughts on accessible travel, including the shortfalls of the industry and the ways travel agents and operators can assist travellers with a disability. As the end of the year approaches, I feel it’s time to highlight a few examples of best practice. I’m sharing some of the stand-out experiences we’ve had with our son who lives with a disability. It’s hard to express the joy it brings our family when a hotel, tour operator or attraction provides an accessible and inclusive experience we can enjoy together.

New Zealand

TAKING a helicopter flight to the top of Franz Josef Glacier is spectacular and it’s a trip that’s on many travellers’ wish lists. Although we’d visited Franz Josef on a previous trip to New Zealand, we booked a return visit. This was based entirely on one unique opportunity for our son. Since our last stay, the Helicopter Line, in association with MakingTrax, was offering guests with a mobility restriction the chance to enjoy time on the glacier in a purpose-built sit-ski.

To make this possible, Helicopter Line provides a staff member to assemble the sit-ski and assist guests onto the glacier. We were exhilarated, not only by the trip, but the inclusive attitude of the companies. The delight on my son’s face as he zipped across the glacier on the sit-ski mirrored that of our whole family.


THE Happiest Place on Earth is also one of the most inclusive. Walt Disney Parks offer a range of facilities that make travel easier for guests with various needs. Detailed information on everything from dietary modifications offered, to the accessibility of rides, can easily be found on all the parks’ websites.

Our son delighted in the magic of the parks and some of that magic came from the seamless way Cast Members offered assistance, guiding our family to the most accessible viewing areas or entrances to rides. The Disability Access Service (DAS) program also allowed us to virtually wait in queue rather than joining the conventional lines at rides.

Disney has improved on the DAS since our last visit now offering eligible guests the opportunity to virtually pre-register with Disney Cast Members. For guests with a disability which affects their ability to queue in a conventional line, the DAS offers them the opportunity to receive an equivalent wait-time to return to a ride.


AS MUCH as we enjoy our overseas travels, I’m pleased to say we’ve had some wonderful holidays in Australia.

Dorrigo, NSW North Coast

Just an hour’s drive from Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast, we explored a part of the Dorrigo National Park with the aid of a TrailRider. Thanks to NSW National Parks providing the TrailRider, we were able to go where a manual wheelchair would otherwise be unable to take us. We were thrilled to show our son the rainforest where he was immersed in the incredible environment of strangler vines, delicate hanging moss and huge ferns.


Located just a short drive from Hobart, our visit to Tahune Adventures was one of our best Australian travel days ever. We were keen to visit to try the Eagle Hang Glider in particular. Staff at the attraction went the extra mile from our arrival by transporting our son and his wheelchair to the hang glider in a buggy over the uneven terrain. They then took great care and time to ensure he was comfortable in the harness. Before long, I had my heart in my mouth watching as he ‘flew’ away. I stood in delighted disbelief as I watched him whisked from the forest floor, dangling above the Huon River and then zipping back to us. His delighted sounds and smile said it all. Staff were as happy as we were to see that teamwork had made my son’s day extra special.


Lake Macquarie NSW

It’s always fantastic to have a range of accessible activities at a destination but finding exceptional accessible accommodation is rare. That’s why I use Lake Mac Holiday Parks as an example of best practice in mainstream accommodation. The accessible cabins offer all the standard accessible facilities,  but what makes these properties exceptional is height adjustable kitchen appliances, fob key automatic entry and the provision of a hoist. Access to recreational facilities has not been forgotten, with a pool wheelchair and ramp provided at one property and a pool hoist at another. Accessible playground equipment has also been included in the parks and good walking/wheeling paths.


This is just a sample of some of the many wonderful travel experiences our family has had over the years. At the heart of each one is an inclusive attitude. I feel privileged to be able to highlight the great work many in the tourism industry are doing, and appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on how others can improve. It’s thrilling for me to see the industry that I love so much is stepping up and our family will continue to adventure where we feel welcome and included in 2023 and beyond.


Julie Jones began her career in the travel industry as a travel consultant, working for almost 20 years for a specialty agency. She is the creator of the award-winning website Have Wheelchair Will Travel and co-founder and editor of Travel Without Limits magazine, Australia’s first disability-specific travel magazine. Julie is also mother to Braeden who lives with cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user.

Subscribe To travelBulletin