More MS news articles for August 2002

Barrier-Free Travel: A Nuts & Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers

InsideMS; Summer 2002; Vol. 20, Issue 3
by Candy Harrington
Reviewed by Jane Gershaw, a retired clinical psychologist, who wrote on disability magazines for our Winter 2002 issue.

Two years ago, I traveled with my college-age daughter to Peru. At Newark Airport, when an elevator and escalator were broken, an airline employee suggested that two men carry me down the broken escalator in my wheelchair to the floor below. After one look at that escalator, I said that we would all wind up with broken bones if we attempted this. After some thought, the person helping me called for an accessible van, helped me on board, and drove me around a few airport loops to the lower level I needed to reach. Whew! Candy Harrington would have been proud that I spoke up and made my needs known loud and clear.

My story is minor compared to the tales of adventure and misadventure in Harrington’s book. The editor of Emerging Horizons, a travel newsletter for people with disabilities, Harrington stresses planning and details. Her goal? “Seamless travel”: getting there, having a great time, and getting home with stories to tell that aren’t only about the problems and stresses of traveling with a disability. She takes a no-holds-barred approach as she reviews the best and worst airlines, hotel and motel chains, travel agents, and destinations. She recommends finding out everything before traveling.

The depth of research and painstakingly careful documentation in this book are particularly useful. Harrington offers information on recreation and vacation destinations. She recommends that international travelers become familiar with access laws in the countries they plan to visit. From the dimensions of toilet facilities on specific aircraft, to information on which planes have removable armrests for transferring from wheelchair to airplane seats, to specific questions to ask when making hotel reservations for an accessible room, Harrington leaves out no potential problem. Under certain circumstances, she even advises readers to send photos of specialized equipment to their destination, so that lodging personnel can advise what will fit and what won’t. Discovering that you can’t get your wheelchair into the bathroom of an “accessible” hotel room does not make for a fun time!

At the end of the book is an exhaustive list of references, including addresses, phone numbers, and Web sites for air, train, bus, and cruise travel, along with hotel, recreational, and destination recommendations. Although I sometimes feel that it is too much work to travel, with all of the unknowns involved, Candy Harrington whets my appetite for adventure in a way I have not experienced in some time. This summer, my family and I may rent an accessible RV and head to the Pacific Northwest—something I would never have given a thought to before reading this book.

C&C Creative Concepts, 2001, 230 pp. $18.69. P.O. Box 278, Ripon, CA 95366; toll-free: 888-795-4274 (Xlibris); Web site:

© 2002 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society