Believe it or not accessible travel is becoming a very popular topic on the internet these days. That’s both good and bad news. The good news of course is that there’s more information out there. The bad news is, that a good chunk of that informaton is inaccurate.
And unfortunately the latter is happening all to often these days. It stems from a combination of lazy writers, and website owners who want down-and-dirty accessible travel articles, but who aren’t willing to fork over the bucks it takes to do the real research. And in the end it’s the consumer who really loses.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you separate the wheat from the chaff as far as accessible travel information is concerned.
Always look for articles that include first-hand information. Although it’s not always possible to tell if the writer has actually visited the place in question, subtle clues may help weed out the cut-and-pasters. For example, if the article just says that something is accessible and doesn’t go much beyond that, chances are the writer hasn’t visited the venue. Most folks that actually travel have more insightful comments, be it a word or two about a door that was just a tad too narrow, a complaint about bed that was too high, or even an off-the-cuff comment about a chat with a taco vendor about the most accessible beaches. Most one-dimensional articles are researched on-line, while the more descriptive entries are usually the result of site visits.
Look for a date for when the article was originally posted, as access tends to change over time. And be especially wary about sites that list the current date for every entry — it’s just not possible. Been even more wary about sites that offer no dates at all. If the access information is current, that’s great, but if it’s a few years old you’ll want to verify its accuracy.
Beware of articles that have no photos or no access specific photos. Have you ever read an article that simply raves about the accessible rooms at a certain resort, but the only photo on the site is one of a sunset? Well, that’s a good indicator that the writer hasn’t visited the place. If you take the time to look at an accessible room, trust me, you always get photos of said room. Even if the photos aren’t top quality, they at least show that the writer was in the room (if they aren’t stolen from someone else). And this is the one case where you get extra points for selfies, which go even one step further to proving that the writer was actually there.
Look for the presence — or the absence — of detailed access descriptions. For example if an article says that a certain property has accessible rooms, but doesn’t offer any specifics, it may have not been keenly researched. Look for details such as room numbers, measurements, grab bar placements and specific descriptions of access features. If the article lacks these, it’s either poorly written, or it was researched online. Either way, it’s not reliable information.
Last but certainly not least, be cautious of service articles that give out trite or useless advice. I call these the “wear comfortable shoes” articles, as they claim to offer tips about accessible travel, but in reality they don’t offer any access specific suggestions. There’s a huge difference between an article that tells readers to just sit back and enjoy their flight, and one that offers details on how wheelchair-users are boarded in aisle chairs. The former is fluff, while the latter offers some meaty information. Beware the fluff, as the only thing that it’s really good for is meringue.