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Budget Lodging Options

Is it really possible to travel on a budget? Well of course, that depends on your budget. Seriously though, it never hurts to stretch your travel dollar; and the best way to do that is to rein in those ever-escalating lodging costs. According to PKF consulting, a San Francisco based travel research firm, hotel rates have increased 37% over the past six years. The good news is, it's still possible to find lodging that's both affordable and accessible. So let's take a look at a few budget lodging options.

First stop -- hostelling; an idea which first gained popularity in the 1970's as an inexpensive way for young people to see the world. Today hostels are open to travelers of all ages, and many hostels are nicely accessible. Some properties, like Hostelling International's (HI) Fisherman's Wharf Hostel, are even upgrading their accessible rooms. Says manager Rick Young, "We sought input from a number of local disability organizations during the construction of our new accessible wing. It took a little longer, but it was well worth the effort." The new wing features an accessible kitchen, a bathroom with a roll-in shower and 2 dorm rooms. It's very nicely done. The location is hard to beat too, with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. All this for only $22.50 per person.

Sign at Globtrekers Hostel in New Zealand
Hokianga Hostel in New Zealand
Photo by Charles Pannell

Access varies from hostel to hostel, so contact each property directly for detailed access information. Some hostels even feature family rooms with private bathrooms. For more information visit HI on-line at www.hiayh.org or call (202) 783-6161 to get a HI Directory ($3 each). And if you'd like to check out the Fisherman's Wharf Hostel, call (415) 771-7277 to book your bed today.

On the more traditional side, many hotel chains, such as Microtel and Motel 6, offer accessible rooms at reasonable rates. Microtel gets the highest marks for consistent access, as all Microtel properties are constructed from the ground up with access in mind. Their goal is to be the preferred motel chain for travelers with disabilities. So far they've done a great job. Their rates start at $32. Visit the Microtel website at www.microtelinn.com for a virtual tour of an accessible room, or call (888) 771-7171 for a Microtel directory.

Motel 6 can also offer good access, but unfortunately they're not very consistent. When they're good, they're very, very good; but when they're bad, you have to almost be a contortionist to use the toilet. Most of their newly constructed (post ADA) properties are nicely accessible, so look for properties constructed after 1992. Their remodeled properties are access nightmares, so make sure and ask a lot of questions before you book a room. Their rates start at a very affordable $45.99. Call (800) 466-8356 or visit www.motel6.com to request a free Motel 6 directory.

And if your travels take you across the Big Pond, you can't beat Travel Inns for access and value in the United Kingdom. Says Ann Litt of Undiscovered Britain, "All Travel Inns have at least a couple of adapted rooms which have wide doorways, grab bars, adapted bathrooms and low rise tubs. They're not luxury properties, but they are clean, affordable and accessible." Rates start at $58. For more information call 011-44-1582-414341 or visit www.travelinn.co.uk.

Of course, you can always look to the great outdoors for some budget lodging options. If that's your choice, don't leave home without your Golden Access Passport, a free lifetime pass available to any US resident with a permanent disability. Pass holders get free admission to all national parks, and a 50% discount on campsites. For more information about the Golden Access Passport, contact your local Bureau of Land Management office or visit www.nps.gov/parks/passes_fees.htm. Golden Access Passports are available at all national park entrances.

And, for a zero cost lodging bill, consider a home exchange. Unfortunately most traditional home exchange services don't list many accessible homes; however, a good resource for an accessible home exchange partner is the Vacation Home Swap Bulletin Board at www.independentliving.org/vacex/index.html. This free service operated by the Stockholm Institute on Independent Living.

Last but not least, check out the Bonfils Stanton Outdoor Center in Winter Park, Colorado. Operated by the National Sports Center for the Disabled, Bonfils Stanton features accessible nature trails, fishing and picnic areas and a campground with raised platforms. The campground is open from May 29 to September 30. There is no charge for camping but advance reservations are required. For more information call (970) 726-1540 or visit www.nscd.org.