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The Relaxed Explorer Provides Accessible European Vacations
By Lois Thomson

"Our motto is, 'travel should be available and accessible to everyone,' and that's what we're trying to do," said Kelley Pearson, co-founder, along with Patti Romig, of The Relaxed Explorer, a travel company designed for people with mobility concerns and the relaxed-paced traveler.  Both women have concerns of their own – Pearson with medical issues that left her wheelchair-bound as a child, and who still has physical limitations; and Romig with a degenerative eye condition – but both have enjoyed extensive travel in Europe.

They believe that physical disabilities should not prevent people from being able to enjoy what they have experienced, so they design small group tours that are accessible to people in wheelchairs, or who just want to travel at a slower pace.  "We make every attempt possible to pick accessible locations, accessible hotels, accessible transportation," Pearson said.

The tours focus on Europe, but as Pearson commented, "Obviously in Europe, there are going to be occasions where things can happen.  But, for example, we try to choose castles we know are accessible, so if a person is in a wheelchair they can at least get to the majority of the attraction itself."  Either Pearson or Romig, or a tour supervisor who works for the company, travels with the group.

The Relaxed Explorer concentrates on people with accessibility concerns, but Pearson wanted to emphasize that the tours are for anyone.  "If someone isn't in a wheelchair, they might think, 'I'm going to be held back.'  But that's not how we operate.  We offer a lot of things that are set at your own pace.  If we go to a castle and you want to sit at the café and look at the garden, you can do that.  But if you want to explore the ruins, you can do that.  It's up to you how quickly you want to go through something; or if you just want to sit and take a relaxed pace, you have the opportunity."

Kelley Pearson, co-founder of The Relaxed Explorer, said the company is very careful about choosing hotels for its tours.  "We try to pick ones in a great central location so people can get out and do stuff and don't have to go too far.  Also, we try to use hotels that have spas or other amenities, so if you want to relax one morning and go to the spa, you can do that.  Sometimes just being at the hotel itself can be an experience."

She said if you've ever traveled with companies where the tours are large and fast-paced and you stay in a different hotel room every night, you won't find that at The Relaxed Explorer.  "That's not what we do.  We try to offer a lot of free time so it's not just go-go-go.  We try to keep the groups small, one reason being that we can get smaller buses that are able to get up closer to locations.  We try to do door-to-door service whenever we can. 

"I understand," she concluded.  "I've traveled through Europe extensively and I know how tiring it can be.  But it can be done."  Especially if you travel with The Relaxed Explorer.

For more information, call 412-386-8730 or visit www.therelaxedexplorer.com.

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