Share the Adventure!

Tour operators are opening up the thrill of travel to more people.

Happy family moments: Mother and child have fun.

(Denis Kuvaev /

The final frontier of travel may not be space exploration or extreme sports holidays. Instead, it may be inclusive travel for people with physical and mental health disabilities who can now add beautiful destinations to their bucket lists thanks to innovative travel companies. Positive News reports that a growing number of tour operators offer travel packages for people of all abilities, with some even specializing in meeting the needs of specific disabilities.

It turns out that creating memorable vacations for blind and partially sighted travelers, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and folks with neurodivergent conditions, is a thriving travel niche. Let’s look at just a few of these trailblazing companies.

Vacations for blind and partially-sighted travelers
For many who develop impaired vision, jetting off on international journeys may seem like a thing of the past. But with the stimulating tagline of “Are you ready to change the way you see the world?” Traveleyes is a relaunched tour company founded by blind adventurer, Amar Latif, for visually impaired and sighted travelers. Sighted participants are invited “to share your sight by describing the wonderful world around you.” No experience of blindness is needed, and the firm will subsidize the holiday cost for them by up to 50 percent as an added benefit.

For its blind clients, Traveleyes emphasizes that travel can restore a sense of freedom and independence to the visually impaired. After all, it is about much more than just seeing sights. Everyone can delight in the aromas of spice gardens in southern India, have their taste buds tantalized by Italian cooking classes, absorb the energy of Salsa music in Cuba, or feel the ocean spray while sailing on a yacht around Croatia.

Positive News reports on an imaginative tour for blind and partially sighted people created by marketing experts in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. Called “Touch and Hear Vilnius,” this ninety-minute walking tour through Vilnius Old Town sees objects and monuments, cobblestones, and oak tree branches  “speak” to participants. They are also invited to stop and feel the terrain and the textures of the city’s rich past. 

Adventures for the deaf and hard of hearing
Deaf Globetrotters Travel calls itself the “oldest & Deaf-owned full-service travel agency globally,” active as a business for 49 years. The destination options are varied, taking in ocean and river cruises, escorted tours, adventure trips, conferences, and honeymoons.

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Meanwhile, an Israeli special needs travel agency, Israel4all, with a tagline of “Traveling WithOut Limits” offers tours for the deaf and hearing impaired that consciously seek to engage all the senses of tourists joining its tours. Trips include a visit to Jerusalem’s bustling Machne Yehuda Market to savor the tastes and smells of fresh herbs, produce, honey, and other delicacies, and an opportunity to experience floating on the Dead Sea and the feeling of covering oneself in healthy, natural mud.

Holidays for neurodivergent folks
As explains, neurodivergence, an umbrella term created in the 1990s, describes the differences in how people feel, think, and perceive their environment. It takes in a broad range of neurological disorders including autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, and Dyslexia. 

Thrillist has profiled WanderRock, an innovative travel company that designs guided trips for neurodiverse young adults in their 20s and early 30s. Co-founded by Ted Kempf, who grew up with ADHD, his earlier work with neurodiverse teens and adults in various settings led to him establishing this company that Thrillist calls a pioneer in the accessible travel world. 

Sensory-friendly features appealing to people who are neurodiverse include adjusted lighting, and quiet corners free of crowds, and noisy kids. Participants speak of being excused from the need to mask or present in a particular way. Masking describes efforts that neurodiverse individuals make to “fit into” a world made for neurotypical folks.

In 2019, Mesa, Arizona became the first Autism-Certified city in the US. What this means is that local hospitality firms are encouraged to train in how to more sensitively meet the needs of autistic travelers. As both the city’s tourism portal, Visit Mesa, and Positive News underline, several of the city’s tourist attractions including The Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Mesa Arts Center have been granted the status of qualified Autism Center. In addition, multiple local hotels and eateries already offer supportive services such as noise-canceling headphones, and quiet spaces for families to retreat to when sensory overload happens.

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