My wife is disabled; she can walk only a few steps. We would like to take a winter vacation. Can you tell us whom to contact?
You can take a couple of different approaches. One of them is turning to a tour operator specializing in travel for the disabled. Among them is Flying Wheels Travel, 143 W. Bridge St., Owatonna, Minn. 55060; (800) 535-6790, fax (507) 451-1685.
Another tour operator you might try is Accessible Journeys, 35 W. Sellers Ave., Ridley Park, Pa. 19078; (800) 846-4537, fax (610) 521-6959. Its director, Howard J. McCoy 3d, noted that the January blizzard caused "a stampede -- people filled up every plane to Florida and Mexico" and filled up two of the three hotels his 12-year-old company uses in Cancun.
Another approach is joining an organization like the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped, at 347 Fifth Ave., Suite 610, New York, N.Y. 10016; (212) 447-7284, fax (212) 725-8253. Peter Shaw-Lawrence, executive director of the society, said it maintains a list of 3,700 hotels, mostly in the United States. The society also publishes a quarterly magazine. Membership is $45 a year, and $25 for people 65 years old and over and for students.
Or you could join the Travelin' Talk Network. Rick Crowder, who founded the organization in 1988, said members get a one-year subscription to Travelin' Talk Newsletter, a quarterly eight-page compendium of resources and reports on trips as well as discounts at four lodging chains and free subscriptions to publications for the disabled. Individuals pay a one-time registration fee of $1 to $10 for membership, based on income.
Travelin' Talk puts out a 550-page directory listing 800 members of the network; agencies and organizations that specialize in travel for the disabled; and places that rent vans with wheelchair lifts. The cost is $35. Information: Travelin' Talk, Post Office Box 3534, Clarksville, Tenn. 37043; (615) 552-6670, fax (615) 552-1182.
Two friends and I anticipate going to the Festival of Pacific Arts this year. Details?
The festival, held every four years, will take place in Western Samoa Sept. 8-23. United by the theme "unveiling the best of our cultural heritage," 3,000 participants are expected from 26 countries and groups of islands, among them Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Island and Tonga.
A major hub of activity will be the festival village in the capital of Apia, on the island of Upolu. Starting Sept. 11, visitors will be able to observe demonstrations of tattooing, wood-carving, weaving, fire-walking on heated rocks and healing techniques.
Among the programs scheduled are song and dance performances, postal stamp and book exhibitions, a literary symposium, a film festival and a flower festival.
Noting that the tourist hotels have been fully booked since December, the director of the festival, Tau'ili'ili Willie Meredith, said that the visitors bureau was arranging for home stays. He said the charge would be modest. Tickets for music and dance performances will cost no more than $10, Mr. Meredith said.
Information in the United States: the Samoa Mission to the United Nations, 820 Second Ave. New York, N.Y. 10017; (212) 599-6196. The festival office in Apia, Western Samoa: telephone (685) 20 434, fax (685) 25 763. For inquiries about accommodations, it is best to fax the manager, visitors bureau, at (685) 20 886, rather than phone.