I’ve worked, lived and loved accessible travel for quite a while now, and I’ve learned along the journey that with some extra thought and planning, it can be made much easier. Here are my six tips to help your holiday go smoothly.
Your destination is important…
First things first – you need to pick a destination. Give some thought to how accessible the environment, terrain and local area will be; it’s wise not to choose somewhere with steep hills or very rough terrain if you’re using a manual wheelchair. Weather is an important factor too – if you struggle in very hot or cold temperatures, be sure to consider this before booking your getaway.
Over the last few years I’ve really enjoyed city breaks in Europe; my favourite so far has been Rome, and I’ve also visited Barcelona, Palma, Pisa and Florence. I travel earlier in the season so that it’s not too overcrowded, which can definitely make things difficult for a wheelchair user.
…as is your accommodation
Once you’ve settled on the perfect destination, it’s time to consider your choice of accommodation. Do some thorough research to establish whether your chosen hotel (or equivalent) can accommodate everything you need – ensure there are lifts, flat walkways and available aids and assistance to make your stay much more comfortable.
Enquire with a travel agent or a hotel directly to see if there are any options to make it easier to accommodate your needs; it could save you a lot of time searching online.
Insurance is vital
There’s simply no way you should travel without insurance. When heading abroad with a disability there’s a few more things that could go wrong, and without insurance you could be facing some hefty costs if you need to repair mobility equipment or access healthcare.
Make sure you look into insurance plans carefully, though – sometimes the small print could mean claims are difficult if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
Bring whatever you need to make the journey easier
When packing for your trip, be sure to bring the things that’ll make the journey there much more comfortable. Plane journeys aren’t always the most fun even for non-disabled passengers, and with the extra considerations you may require, you could be in more of a predicament.
Bring any medication you may need, and perhaps some comfortable additions such as a pillow and blanket to make the journey as relaxed and as easy as it can be. Be sure to enquire with your chosen airline to see what they can do for you, too.
Approach others when you need help
Don’t be scared to simply ask others for help if you’re in need. More often than not, regardless of where you are in the world, the locals are friendly and willing to assist you as much as possible.
Make sure you’re aware of where to go and who to talk to if you need further guidance, too. There are often places in your accommodation or in the city that can aid you in getting around as a disabled traveller, so it’s worth a try.
Plan your transport methods
Look in advance to see just how to get around in your destination. Are there dedicated methods of accessible transport? Buses and trains are usually good options, as are trams – but make sure it’s easy to get around with the challenge of different terrain or obstacles that could make it difficult.
Carrie-Ann Lightley is a traveller, a blogger and an inspiration for the less mobile traveller. She doesn’t let her Cerebral Palsy slow her down from enjoying the world, near and far. Living with the mantra of ‘there is always a way’ her travel blog provides expertise and inspiration for accessible travel. Visit Carrie-Ann at https://www.carrieannlightley.com