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Hop on a Segway on Your Next Vacation

Introduced by inventor Dean Kamen in 2001, the Segway® Personal Transporter (PT) was originally touted as the “worlds’ first self-balancing human transporter”. And although this futuristic looking scooter hasn’t exactly replaced the automobile; it has gained a very loyal and enthusiastic following over the years. And that enthusiasm eventually fueled the discovery of other uses for this unique machine; including guided group sightseeing tours.

Available in major cities around the world, Segway PT tours are an excellent sightseeing option for anyone who tires easily or just can’t walk very far. Segways are very intuitive and easy to operate. Plus they’re lots of fun, very safe and just downright cool.

Segway Basics

Although the Segway PT only has two wheels, it’s easy to operate with a minimum of motor skills. Basically you have to be able to stand up and hang on to the handlebars (otherwise known as the LeanSteer frame.) If you want move ahead, lean forward; and if you want to back up lean back. Likewise, you just need to move the LeanSteer frame left or right to steer. It’s all pretty simple.

Segway tours usually last for 2-3 hours, so you have to be able to stand for the duration. And although rules and regulations vary by location, there are a few common restrictions, including:

  • Helmet requirements (provided by dealer)
  • Weight restrictions (usually between 100-260 pounds)
  • Age restrictions (usually at least 12 years old)

Additionally all Segway PT tours include a training session prior to the tour. Beginners are always welcome, and if you don’t feel comfortable after the training, you’re free to opt out.

A Bermuda Adventure

Segway PT tours are ideal for hilly locations, such as Bermuda. In fact, that’s what sold Jennifer Conway on the whole concept. “I can walk for a good 30 minutes on flat terrain; but hills tire me very quickly, which can cause my leg to drag,” she explains. So, after chatting briefly with a Segway of Bermuda representative, she signed up for a dockyard tour on her 2008 visit.

Jennifer had never ridden a Segway PT before, but after a short training session, she was zipping around like an old pro. “The hardest thing to learn is how far to lean when you want to stop and start,” she recalls, “but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and so much fun.”

As an added benefit, the movement of a Segway PT helps keep you cool; which is a great perk in warmer climates. “You really get a nice breeze when you pick up speed,” says Jennifer.

Finding a Tour

Although Jennifer’s choice to try a Segway PT tour was a spur-of-the-moment decision; it’s also easy to locate and compare tour options before you leave home.

One of the largest operators, Segway City Tours (www.citysegwaytours.com), features franchises around the world. All of their tours feature a short orientation session followed by a city tour conducted by an English speaking guide. Segway City Tours are currently available in Atlanta, Berlin, Budapest, Chicago, Paris, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Many Segway PT dealers also offer tours. Although they follow the same format as the Segway City Tours, they aren’t united by one central tour company. Still, they are easy to find at www.segwayguidedtours.com, which features a worldwide database of Segway PT tour operators.

Other Touring Options

Another option is to rent a Segway PT for a whole day, or even the duration of your visit. Although this option is more expensive, it allows more flexibility and freedom. You can also tour at your own pace, and take a break whenever you need it.

According to Segway of Ontario owner, Jason Rizzuti, most dealers also rent Segway PTs. The best place to find a dealer is at www.segway.com.

“We always provide training before tours and rentals,” says Jason, “but for our rentals we provide a few extra tips and a training video.” He also stresses that renters are responsible for knowing the laws and they must sign a liability release.

Many attractions, such as San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, also offer Segway PT Tours. Their two-hour Rolling Safaris give visitors an up-close-and-personal glimpse at some very exotic wildlife, while they roll along the dirt paths and paved trails of the compound.

Last but not least, don’t rule out state parks and recreation areas. For example, Angel Island State Park offers an excellent Segway PT tour along the eight-mile perimeter trail that circles the island. Participants are allowed to stop along the way at historic sights and scenic overlooks. Not only is it a fun tour, but it also offers some spectacular views of San Francisco Bay.

So give a Segway PT tour a try on your next vacation. It’s the fun way to go green, save your energy and enjoy a city at the same time.

Candy Harrington is the editor of Emerging Horizons and the author of 101 Accessible Vacations; Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. She blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at www.BarrierFreeTravels.com.