Top tips on travelling with a disability
Posted by: The personal injury help and advice team
Here at Personal Truths we understand that travelling with a disability isn’t always easy, but it isn’t impossible and nobody should be put off as accessible travel is now more popular than ever. We’ve taken the stress out of travelling with this go-to guide of top tips and things to consider.
Travelling in the UK and abroad
When booking accommodation it’s a good idea to check whether your required facilities are available to you and if they’re in working order. For example is there a lift? And if so, is it big enough to fit your wheelchair? It’s always worth phoning the accommodation after booking to confirm everything is correct and that they’re aware of the requirements you have.
If you’re driving, do they have on-site parking or is the hotel accessible from a nearby bus or train station?
When taking a break in a rural town, consider something a little more modern. You might find some quirky B&Bs, but these tend to be converted buildings from years ago offering low ceilings, narrow corridors and uneven floors making easy mobility difficult.
Small towns and villages are usually less busy compared to the city, however if transport is needed, disability adapted transport may be sparse. Cobbled streets may also be harder to manoeuvre around so it is worth bearing this in mind when planning your trip.
It’s best to book holiday and travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip so you’re covered if any cancellations occur. Opt for comprehensive travel insurance that is appropriate for your needs.
There are many companies that have adapted cars and vans for wheelchair access, such as Adapted Vehicle Hire (UK based) and disabledholidays.com (based in the UK and the United States). When booking, make sure the company is fully aware of your requirements and check the level of insurance that they offer as you may wish to extend the cover.
The Blue Badge scheme was put in place to help those with severe limited mobility park close to where they need to be when public transport isn’t an option. The scheme operates all over the UK and is also recognised in all European countries.
It’s always helpful to allow at least two hours for domestic and connecting flights and three hours for international. Timing is key as most airlines will allow wheelchair users to board first and disembark last, so be sure to arrive on time so you can take advantage of this and comfortably board the aircraft and organise yourself before the rest of the passengers.
Whilst it’s not necessary to get medical clearance to travel, it would be wise to carry a document outlining your disability or impairment, detailing any difficulties that could occur and what assistance you may then need. Some airlines may ask for fitness to travel to satisfy them of your ability to attend to your personal needs.
If you take medication, you should ensure that you take enough with you to see you through the holiday and extra to allow for possible delays. Ensure all medication is clearly labelled and if possible in its original packaging, placed in your hand luggage so it’s easy to get to. If your medication isn’t easily identifiable you’ll need a doctor’s note to provide airport officials to ensure they aren’t confiscated.
The best piece of advice when packing would be to make a list and don’t leave it until last minute! For wheelchair users, it’s worth considering a maintenance service beforehand to double check there are no loose nuts and bolts on your wheelchair and possibly take extra inner tubes and tools with you on holiday for those ‘just-in-case’ scenarios.
Don’t forget to pack any travel destination guides you may have. Lonely Planet have created an online Accessible Travel Resource that features advice from experienced travellers with disabilities as well as dozens of specialised accessible travel agents and tour operators from more than 40 countries around the world.
Think about your usual routine, are you more tired in the morning or the evening? If you have more energy first thing when you wake up then plan your sightseeing and activities in the morning, so you can spend the afternoon relaxing at your leisure – you won’t enjoy the holiday as much if you’re too tired!
If you’re having trouble looking for a suitable holiday location, find inspiration from our post on accessible holiday destinations here.