Making travel accessible for all

Trips: A travel agency in Bel Air offers resources to help make vacations possible for disabled clients.

March 21, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SPECIALTO THE SUN

Mig G. Sturr, owner and operator of Creative Travel Planners Inc., a travel agency in Bel Air, has recently provided hope for prospective tourists who have accessibility needs, such as those with hearing, vision or mobility impairments.

She knows of no similar company in the area, she said, providing clients with the ability to travel with portable dialysis machines, seeing-eye dogs for the blind, wheelchairs and nurses or aides that accompany a traveler in need of constant care.

"My goal is to see how many people I can send on vacation who thought they were no longer able to travel," she said.

"We have a great deal of resources from which to work. There's a very good chance that we can manage [an impaired traveler's] trip needs with whatever accoutrements they need."

Sturr said she was motivated to bring these changes to her business after she attended a convention in January for the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to disabled travelers.

"I got involved and went to the conference in Miami," she said. "There were people in wheelchairs, people with their dogs [for the blind], it was truly wonderful."

Sturr empathizes with the disabled because she has a genetic disorder that hinders her passion for travel, she said.

Sturr, her three daughters and her three granddaughters all suffer from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects her joints. The ailment makes walking difficult.

Nevertheless, Sturr plans to take a trip to Alaska in May, equipped with a scooter, as an investigative tactic to see how disabled travelers are treated.

"I have my limitations, but they're not visible," she said. "My husband was in a nursing home for 10 years, and my mother was in a wheelchair. I have empathy. I know what it's like to be in constant pain."

New advancements for disabled people excite her, she said. Adventures she thought were out of her reach, such as an African safari, are suddenly back in her grasp.

"[Creative Travel Planners] can send someone to pack your bags for you and ship them overseas," she said, making transporting personal items much easier for people in need of accessibility.

Sturr works from home with the help of two other agents, watching her grandchildren during the day and managing her business, while still traveling all over the world.

She insists the worst thing an impaired person can do is to stay immobile.

"People need to be stimulated," she said. "There's a lot of people who haven't realized they can do these things. If I can give someone that once-in-a-lifetime trip ... to see the look in their eyes, the excitement. To know I had something to do with that, that would be exciting."

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