101 Accessible Vacations
Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers

Author Q & As

Q: How did you come up with the idea for 101 Accessible Vacations?
The book evolved from a question that has been posed to me countless times over the years, “Where can I go on vacation?” To be honest, I’ve often been at a loss at how to reply to that query, especially if I don’t know anything about the person asking the question. Of course I could go on and on with a laundry list of things to do, places to stay and destinations to visit; but to be honest, that’s such a hit and miss approach — especially if I don’t even know what the person likes to do. So I decided it was time to write a vacation idea book about accessible travel options. Now when people ask me that question, I can just tell them to browse through the book until they find something that tickles their fancy.
Q: How is the book it organized? Tell me about some of the sections.
Unlike traditional travel books that are organized geographically, 101 Accessible Vacations is organized by area of interest. It’s divided up into 12 sections that include everything from “Road Trips” and “Family Friendly Fun” to “A Little Culture”, “Crusin’” and “Historic Haunts”. That way you can focus on the sections that most match your travel style and area of interest. For example, if you like museums and cultural attractions you might want to check out the “A Little Culture” section, while if you prefer nature and wildlife you’ll probably want to look through “The Great Outdoors” section. It’s organized so you can find an accessible vacation choice that suits your lifestyle, personality and travel tastes.
Q: Why “101” vacations? Why not 50 or 78 or 2000?
I wanted it to be large number so that people understand there really are a lot of choices. Some folks think that they only have a few, so I wanted the title to show them that there’s a whole world of accessible choices out there. 101 seemed large enough, yet manageable for me. It also seemed about the right length for a book. Plus it just has a catchy ring to it.
Q: What type of access information is included in the book?
Like in Emerging Horizons, and the rest of my work, my goal is to describe access so my readers can make appropriate choices. So I don’t just say something is or isn’t accessible. Instead, for example, I might say that a particular attraction has a level entry, roll-in shower or wide level pathways. I don’t use tables or charts or pictograms — all access information is included as a narrative part of the text in the chapter. And it’s included in every chapter.
Q: Do you include any unconventional, unexpected or unusual destinations in the book?
Oh my yes. During the course of my editorial research I found everything from safaris, tidepools and caverns to factory tours, barge cruises and train tours — all with great access. So yes, there’s a wide range of destinations and venues represented in the book. There’s something to suit just about every taste.
Q: What about lodgings? Do you mention those too?
Of course. In many chapters I suggest accessible lodging options, but I also have a whole section called “A Place to Rest Your Head”, which highlights some unique lodging choices. That section features a little bit of everything lodging-wise; from safari camps and villas to beach homes, remote lodges, dude ranches and even a lighthouse.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the “Active Holidays” section. Does it include information about how to participate in adaptive sports?
That section features both sports and recreational activities. It covers everything from accessible beaches and dolphin interaction programs to skiing, scuba and sailing. Each chapter gives an overview of the activity and includes notes about the adaptive equipment that’s available. It also gives suggestions about organizations to contact for more training and places you can go to enjoy the sport or activity. It’s difficult to learn a sport from a book, but I certainly present the resources necessary to get folks pointed in the right direction.
Q: Does the book include information on package tours and travel agent recommendations?
No, it’s really geared more towards independent travelers. It does however include a whole section about accessible cruise choices.
Q: Is this a good book for travel agents or is it only of benefit to consumers?
I think travel agents will find it very useful; after all they get the same questions I do. It will give them a lot of accessible vacation ideas to recommend to their clients. Plus I’ve also included a number of accessible shore excursion providers in the book, and that’s something of big interest to travel agents.
Q: Who is the most unforgettable character you’ve met in all your travels?
Oh Gosh, there were so many, but one that stands out is Tim Seewer, co-owner of Etta’s Lunchbox Cafe in Ohio’s Hocking Hills. Tim has this huge collection of lunchboxes — 500 or so — dating back to the early 1900s. And he treats every one of them like one of his own children. Talking with Tim is very nostalgic and entertaining, as he’s a veritable treasure trove of 60s TV trivia. He can whip up a pretty good lunch too, but man can he ever keep you entertained. He can talk about his lunchboxes for hours. He’s just a fun guy.
Q: How long did it take you to research the book?
The book is a compilation of my travels as the editor of Emerging Horizons, and we celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2007, so I guess technically I would have to say 10 years. But to be honest, I had to revisit a lot of places I covered in the beginning, as access changes over time; so I would say that I actively worked on it — traveling, researching access and updating information — for about four years. But I think I probably had the germ of the idea for the book about eight years ago.
Q: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while researching the book?
Well obviously it was very research intensive, so it just flat out took up a lot of time. But beyond that I’d say the most frustrating thing was people who were less than honest about their access. In fact, I remember traveling some three hours out of my way on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere to visit a Thai spa/dude ranch that was suppose to be accessible. The owner told me that they had a roll-in shower and great access. Of course when I arrived I found no real accessible rooms and steps up to the front porch. To add insult to injury, the owner had to leave on urgent business and she left some poor manager-type to pick up the pieces. Even she agreed it wasn’t an accessible property! It was very disappointing. No, it was maddening, as it was a colossal waste of my time. Fortunately those incidents were few and far between, but boy they sure leave a bad taste in your mouth when they do happen. In the end, that’s why we have to check out the access.
Q: What is your favorite destination in the book?
Well again this is an issue of personal preference, but I just love to explore tidepools, so I was thrilled to find an accessible tidepool area on the Oregon Coast. When I first heard about it, I really had my doubts, because I couldn’t figure out how they could actually make a tidepool accessible. But I wasn’t one bit disappointed when I finally visited, as they did an excellent job in the access department. Even folks in power wheelchairs can explore the tidepools. How cool is that?
Q: What was your criteria for including items in the “Candy’s Picks” section of the book?
That section is pretty much what it sounds like — some of my favorites. Of course that’s where the tidepools are listed, but beyond that I tried to include things that have a high level of access or are somewhat unusual. For example, one chapter includes a roundup of accessible caves, including a drive-through cavern. And of course, one of my favorite cities — Vancouver — is included in another chapter in that section. Not only is it a very accessible city, but there’s just so much to do there. I tried to include a variety of offerings, but again they were some of my favorites.
Q: What is the biggest change in accessible travel you’ve seen in the 14 years you have been covering it?
Well, I have to say I’ve seen a huge shift in the general attitude towards accessibility. Fourteen years ago there was access, however most folks in the hospitality industry viewed it as a legal mandate — something they had to do. Today it’s still a legal requirement, but many folks are going above and beyond the law because they realize there is a huge market out there. And it’s not just the folks who are disabled today, but the aging Baby Boomers. These folks, for the most part, have the time, means and desire to travel. And as you get older there is a higher incidence of age-related disability. Marketing departments have recognized this, and in the end that translates into more accessible options for travelers. Plus I can truly say that, for the most part, disabled travelers are welcomed today, as compared to merely being accommodated 14 years ago. And I think that attitude makes a huge difference. After all, you want to be welcome when you are on your vacation.
Q: What one piece of advice would you offer to wheelers and slow walkers who want to see the world?
Don’t limit yourself. If you want to travel to a specific place or participate in a particular activity, then do your research and find the accessible options. They are out there. 101 Accessible Vacations is proof of that. Today you can truly plan an accessible vacation based on your tastes and personal preferences, so don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities.

Cover of

Books by Candy Harrington