Having a disability does not mean that you can’t enjoy a rich and fulfilling trip abroad. It simply means that you will have more to plan before you travel. Send My Bag has put together a list of top tips to help you negotiate this vital planning stage in order to make the most of your time away.
1. Research is key to the success of your holiday. This means making an informed decision about which destination suits you best – both in terms of your physical needs and your interests – and about which visitor attractions, hotels, restaurants, etc. at your chosen destination, can best accommodate you. You will find a wealth of information online, especially from other travellers with disabilities keen to share their experiences with others. Check out travel forums or simply type a query into a search engine to learn about accessibility in the destinations that take your fancy. Once you have decided on a destination, it helps to develop as detailed an itinerary as possible so that you can look into each place of interest/ restaurant/ hotel in terms of their accessibility.
2. Knowing exactly where you want to go and what sites you want to visit means that you can book ahead and, crucially, let staff know about their needs. This forward planning means that many more attractions will be open to you, as staff will have had the chance to make any necessary adjustments to accommodate your visit. Of course, you can’t plan for every moment of the day, so don’t hesitate to ask the advice of hotel staff in recommending accessible restaurants, etc., and in making bookings and special requests on your behalf.
3. Letting staff know about your requirements well in advance is a particular must when it comes to air travel. Airports are well equipped to help less able bodied customers get through security checks and to board or disembark aircraft. Letting airports/ airlines know in advance that you will require their help means that staff can be put place in anticipation of your arrival.
4. If you require a wheelchair, you should check whether the aircraft you will be flying on has aisles wide enough to allow you to get to your seat using an aisle chair. You should also note the restrictions on electric wheelchairs powered by certain batteries. Some batteries are considered a safety risk because of the risk of spillage.
5. If you are bringing an assistance dog you must inform the airline beforehand. You may also need to provide documents proving your dog’s special training.
6. Accessible hotel rooms book out fast, which is why it is worth planning your holiday well in advance to allow you to secure the accommodation you need.
7. Travel with a friend. Your holiday will be much more enjoyable and safer if you travel with a friend or family member. If you have trouble moving round, it helps if this person is physically strong so that they can help carry your luggage and push your chair if you are wheelchair bound.
8. You can avoid altogether the hassle of dragging luggage with you and relying on your travel companion to manage two loads of luggage by having your bags sent to and from your destination with Send My Bag. This will mean your companion will only have to help you with a small item of hand luggage, which they could easily manage along with their own. This also means that there are more travel options open to you. It is much easier to take public transport without having to worry about luggage as well as accessibility. Shipping your bags also means that you will not have to queue up at bag drop or luggage carousels, making your time in the airport a much more pleasant experience.
9. Know your rights as a less able bodied person. If you have been led to believe that accommodation will be suitable to your needs, but it turns out not to be, you may be entitled to a refund and possibly compensation. Seek advice on such matters from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or your solicitor.
10. Look after your health. Check with your doctor before you book your holiday that travelling will not damage your health. Also make sure that there is a local doctor or other health professional at your destination that you can contact in the case of an emergency. Finally, make sure that you bring adequate medication, if needed, plus some extra, just in case. Spread this across a couple of bags in case of theft.
Read our previous posts on 'The Best Shopping Destinations in Europe' and 'The Top Five European Destinations for History Lovers' to help you plan your next trip.
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