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Tips for disabled people and their summer holidays

a picture of the sun drawn in the sand with a happy face next to a beach towel and two pairs of flip flops

For some disabled people planning a holiday abroad can be a challenge, but the more you plan ahead the less of a nightmare it can be.

If you have a severe medical health condition it's best to have a word with your doctor or consultant first, just to make sure it is safe to travel.

Before you book a holiday there’s a few things you should check…

- Safety and quarantine rules

- Airport, flights and transport

- Luggage and equipment allowance

- Travel insurance

- Medication

- Accommodation, hotels and attractions

That’s the dull stuff out the way, now it’s time to pick where you wanna go. If you have a disability and are a little apprehensive try to find travel bloggers who have similar conditions as yourself, accessible travel businesses, online forums, and travel videos on YouTube.

It may be an idea to do a bit of extra homework, finding out the country's attitude to disability and discrimination. If you need more help contact an organisation specifically related to your health condition.

It may be an idea to go for an all inclusive holiday so you won’t need to worry about accessible restaurants in the area and go on excursions which take your disability into account.

Right, now for some travel tips..

By Plane

You can opt for ‘special assistance’ when you book your holiday, this must be booked 48 hours before your flight.

Most airports have accessible toilets and changing rooms, pre-booked buggies to take you around the building, quieter rooms for travellers with anxiety or sensory issues, pagers to notify you when you can board your flight and if you wear a Sunflower lanyard this will let staff know you may require additional support.

By Train or Coach

You are advised to contact the rail or coach service ahead of your journey to explain what help you need.

Some train services offer the following.

- Assistance with luggage, security and boarding

- Wheelchair spaces

- Wheelchair accessible toilets

- Braille buttons on train doors

- Quiet carriages

- Discounted tickets 

Some coach services offer.

- Accessible seating

- Wheelchair lift and seat

- Accessible toilets

- Plenty of stops

By Car of Ferry

If you are driving you should check.

- If you are covered by your car insurance to take your vehicle abroad

- If your breakdown cover is valid in the country you are travelling to

- You meet any rules which apply, such as carrying a high-vis jacket in the boot of your car

- If you are signed to the Motability Scheme you will need a VE103 Vehicle on Hire certificate at least 3 weeks before you travel.

If you are travelling by ferry tell the company what help you need before making your booking

You have the right to travel with an assistance dog, but must abide with the rules of the country you are travelling to. If you need any help with this, ask your travel provider.

The next thing on the list is finding suitable accommodation, here’s a few points you may need to take into account.

- A ground floor or lift

- Wide doorways

- Raised toilet seats

- Wheel-in showers with space to store equipment such as a hoist

- How high the beds are

- Is the room noisy?

- Standard lighting

- Enough plug sockets to charge electronic devices

You are advised to call the hotel before making a booking to ensure they meet your requirements, feel free to ask to see photos of the rooms and if you have the balls, try to wangle a discount.

Tips for travelling abroad 

It’s a good idea to research a few things before you book a destination if you rely on accessible facilities. For example, make sure if the public transport is suitable. If not, but you still want to go, give the hotel a buzz in advance asking if they can help you arrange a private car or an accessible taxi service.

If you are the type of person who enjoys exploring opposed to beach holidays try researching access at local tourist attractions to see how accessible they are. One of the most productive ways is to use Google Street View where you can identify features such as steps, ramps, barriers, slopes and cobblestone streets.

You may want to have a word with your GP before you book so they can make sure you have enough medication, need any vaccines and you have the generic name of any medication you use, not just the brand names. Check if you can take your medication to your holiday destination and ask your GP to write a letter confirming it’s a prescription. If possible, take twice as much, just in case you lose your luggage.

It’s a good idea to let your family and friends know where you are heading off to, find emergency numbers such as the police/ ambulance and keep your relatives' contact details in your bag or wallet.

If you need to carry additional luggage for medication purposes or disability equipment ask your travel provider if they can arrange additional allowance.

Wheelchair users are advised to have their chair serviced before travelling and make sure its in working order. Just to be on the safe side check where your local provider is based should you need a replacement. Maybe a good idea is to take some spare parts as well and check which power adaptors you need to charge electronic equipment.

Finally, don’t forget travel insurance which is suitable for your disability. A good choice is the Global Health Insurance Card which allows you to purchase state healthcare in Europe at a discounted price or, in some cases, free available from the website.

[ Did you know you can catch sunburn on a plane if you sit next a window? ]

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