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7 Tips for Disabled Travel

14 December 2015

It may be hard for our well-travelled readers to believe, but many people with mobility impairments have not had a holiday for years. Recently published statistics told a sad story: people with disabilities or reduced mobility are “significantly less likely” to have flown in the past year than others, with many stating that they are too worried about flying or concerned that something may go wrong during their travels.

This led the Enable team to reflect on the many happy customers we arrange accessible holidays for each day, and wonder, how can we help people realise that trips like this are not only possible, but truly memorable for all the right reasons?

With this in mind– and in the hope of putting some minds at rest or helping those who have already booked a break – here are 7 great tips for people with mobility issues going on holiday.

1. Stay put

If you haven’t been on a trip for a while, or if you are only just becoming accustomed to being less mobile than before, consider a staycation, meaning a holiday close to home.  We are lucky enough to live in a country where there are great beaches, buzzing cities, astounding views – and, perhaps most importantly, ever improving levels of accessibility.  Visiting somewhere closer by is likely to boost your confidence in travel if it’s not something you are used to doing.

2. Who you gonna call? (No, not the Ghostbusters)

So, you’ve decided to treat yourself to a fantastic accessible holiday, but what comes next?  Well, many people are likely to start by searching the web for “accessible holidays”, “wheelchair holidays” or “disabled holidays”.  This is a great start, but unless you are confident enough to plan everything yourself (which can be extremely challenging), at some point you’ll need to pick up that phone and give someone a call.  When you’re deciding which holiday company to choose you’ll need to weigh up where the tour operatorcan take you, what their area of expertise is, what their website says they offer, how trustworthy they seem, and whether they offer financial protection through ABTA and ATOL membership. Once you’ve decided who to contact, you’ll then need to consider what you’re going to ask.

3. Questions, questions

It’s essential that you decide what you are looking for out of this holiday, and what is most likely to put your mind at rest before you go.  Consider, can the company you are contacting guarantee you an accessible room?  Have they personally audited the property(ies)?  Do they offer adapted transfers from the airport to your accommodation?  Can they offer you a rep who will be available to meet, advise and assist you at your destination?  Are they willing to supply you with room measurements, equipment, and specific details about the adapted attributes of the property?

Questions aside, you should also aim to accurately explain your disability to the travel advisor, so that your holiday can be 100% tailor made to suit your requirements.

Be prepared, arm yourself with questions, and be assertive about what you require.

4. Pack light and prioritise

Now that you’ve spoken to an informed, friendly and helpful advisorand booked your holiday, it’s time to pack.  First things first: consider and evaluate your medical needs. What do you need to bring to keep you healthy?  Luckily, medical equipment doesn’t affect your baggage allowance on a flight, and can range up to 100kg plus an extra 10kg hand allowance.  Also, remember important things such as chargers for electric wheelchairs and scooters!  Then, perhaps just as importantly, pack light.  You can buy many of the non-essentials anywhere in the world, so only prioritise the absolute necessities.

5. Is there a problem?

No one likes to consider potential frustrations with their holiday, but to be forewarned is too be forearmed.  If there are any issues at all, the first thing to try and do is no doubt the hardest part – stay calm.  Breathe deeply, ask for a manager or a rep, and explain what is wrong.  You will find that the vast majority of hotels, holiday reps and properties will do all they can to amend any issues you have.  And lastly, try to be reasonable, because it’s for your own benefit – people are far more inclined to assist someone who treats them respectfully than someone who has let an unfortunate situation get the better of them.

6. Stay healthy

Although the thought can be stressful to some and rushing into a holiday is not advisable for people living with disabilities, travel can provide incredible health boosts – especially when booking your break with a specialist accessible holidays specialist.  It’s been medically proven to often improve sleep, enhance well-being,reduce the risk of health issues such as heart attacks and high blood pressure, and all the while having fun.  However, some people have to take care of themselves a little more than others, so if you have a disability, consider visiting your doctor before going on holiday to ensure they agree that you are fit to travel, make sure you have travel insurance covering for any medical treatment you may need while away, wash your hands regularly and drink plenty of water.

7. Be positive

Lastly, make sure you approach your holiday with an open, willing mind.  It is inevitable that travel presents more challenges for people with impaired mobility, but it is also a joyful, life-affirming experience.  Remember: if you enter your holiday assuming that you are going to have problems or have a bad time, you’re more likely to be proven right. But by choosing an experienced accessible holiday specialist to take care of your needs, you should be able to relax in confidence and look forward to having the time of your life!

If you would like to speak to an experienced travel advisor about a holiday, feel free to contact the Enable Holidays team on 0871 222 4939 or email info@enableholidays.com

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