How to Plan a Holiday for a Person with a Disability

Planning any sort of holiday can be stressful and even more so if you have to pay close attention to accessibility, location and specific facilities. We believe that anyone should be able to travel if they want to, regardless of any disability they, or someone they’re travelling with, have.

So to help you organise appropriately we’ve put together some key tips on planning a holiday for a person with a disability. Nothing too complex because we know there are specifics that we won’t be able to cover within one article but hopefully we will point you in the right direction.

Know What You need

Before you even start to look for hotels or travel, you should write down a list of the facilities you need.

For example, a ground floor room shouldn’t be a problem for most accommodations but what about a disabled bathroom or extra help from staff. If there aren’t ground floor rooms available, does the hotel have a lift? If you’re flying, can you get assistance to help you through the terminal? These are all things you need to think about before planning any sort of holiday.

Wheelchair access is standard in the UK but you might need to look a little harder or make some enquiries if booking a holiday abroad.

The Type of Holiday

Don’t let a disability dictate what sort of holiday you go on. You’d be surprised at the level of disabled access different countries have, it’s just that a lot of them don’t promote the fact as much as countries such as the UK and USA. For example Aruba, Barbados and Jamaica have recently been commended for their disability awareness.

Other destinations, such as Venice, might not look disabled-friendly with all those bridges, steps and cobbled streets but there are routes through the city that are accessible by wheelchair or mobility scooter. In a lot of cases these require special access so enquire before booking.

Be Specific About Your Needs

Rather than just explaining the type of disability that needs to be catered for, be specific. Say exactly what sort of thing would make your stay more comfortable and have the hotel or travel agent confirm in writing.

For example, a hotel might make it obvious they have a lift but you might need to ask if it’s large enough for a wheelchair. Also check things like whether or not there is a roll-in shower in the room.

Call Ahead

Wherever you are travelling to — whether it’s the airport, a hotel or a restaurant — call ahead to let them know that you will require disabled access. This gives the staff a chance to prepare and will make the experience as seamless as possible. Generally, disabled people are very loyal to accessible destinations and companies (according to an Open Doors Organisation survey) so it makes sense that these businesses want to help.

For air travel you’ll need to call at least 48 hours before your flight to provide information about your needs to the airline. If you don’t you could risk not getting the help you need and perhaps even not being able to board the flight. To avoid most problems check what the airlines’ guidelines regarding disabled passengers are before booking.

You should also ask if the aircraft will have an aisle chair. These are for moving around the plane while in flight as regular wheelchairs won’t fit between the seats. Book your flight as early as possible so you can reserve an aisle seat to make moving between the two easier.

Use a Travel Agent Who Understands Your Circumstances

There are plenty of travel agents out there who specialise in holidays for people with physical disabilities. They’ll be able to do the hard work for you when it comes to finding suitable destinations, hotels and travel.

More often than not, the best holiday for those in a wheelchair is a cruise and you’ll find plenty of travel agents that will be able to help you with this kind of trip. A cruise is nice because most ships have ramps, electric doors, and wheelchairs or scooters on hand for excursions. Something to check with ships, however, if whether or not they have tender lifts to get you and your wheelchair onto the smaller boat that will take you ashore.

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Vitalise has been providing short breaks for disabled people and carers at accessible Centres in the UK since 1963. We firmly believe that disabled people should have the same rights, freedoms, responsibilities and quality of life as those without disabilities.

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