A holiday is a chance to recharge and unwind. While many look forward to their holiday right from the initial planning stages, for disabled travellers it can be a time of great stress and anxiety. Finding somewhere that caters for individual requirements can be difficult.
Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers specialist policies for carers and disabled individuals, understands how unique and varied disabled individuals’ needs are. Because of this, Chartwell has put together a guide to help take the strain out of planning a holiday so all you should have to worry about is how much suntan lotion to pack!
The Equality Act 2010 means that service providers such as tour operators, travel agents, airlines and airports must consider how travellers with disabilities access their services and make reasonable adjustments so that travellers can use services in the same or similar way to those without disabilities. However, if you want that added peace of mind it may be worth looking at companies that specialise in tailor-made holidays for disabled travellers, such as Enable Holidays. These look into a number of criteria to ensure the resort and hotel match your individual requirements.
The following things need to be taken into consideration:
- Do you require any assistance at the airport or on board the aircraft? If so is this available and pre-bookable?
- Does your disability and travel provider require you to have a ‘Fit to Fly’ letter from your doctor?
- Is there the option to take your own equipment with you? Is there any additional luggage allowance available?
- Can you take any relevant medication or equipment on board the aircraft if required?
- Are adapted/accessible transfers available or provided?
- Is the holiday accommodation accessible and are adapted rooms available, such as wheel-in showers and wider doorways? It is best for wheelchair users or those with walking difficulties to get a room on the lowest floor possible, as lifts are usually shut-off in cases of emergency.
- What is the destination like in terms of terrain, weather and climate and how this will affect your disability and enjoyment of the holiday? Are the facilities at the hotel, beach, pool and other amenities in the resort, surrounding area and places of interest accessible? You can research prior to booking on sites such as Trip Advisor which has a dedicated Travelling with disabilities forum and on blogs, such as holidaysinawheelchair.com/. These and other sites around the web can offer valuable insight into your destination.
- Is transport accessible? How easy will it be to get around your potential destination? Is there the availability of adaptable car hire if required?
- What is the access to medical facilities like? Do you require special medical assistance and if so is it available at the resort? Are there repatriation arrangements in the event of an emergency?
- Can you pre-book hire of any necessary equipment to ensure it is available on your arrival?
- Does the hotel and airline cater for any specific dietary requirements? If you plan to eat out-and-about it is worth looking at reviews to see if specific diets are readily catered for and if necessary look at getting a translation card to avoid any errors. Some airlines allow extra luggage so that special dietary foods can be taken with you, however this usually requires a doctor’s note.
- Is there an in-resort rep or point of contact locally, should you need back-up or support?
- If you are taking your own wheelchair abroad, are there local repair and replacement facilities if it is damaged or lost?
- Do you require a holiday carer or facilities for a carer?
For additional advice on travel, UK Charity, Tourism for All provides information on where specific access needs can be met and advice on planning holidays. The charity also raises money which goes towards making travel universally welcoming, regardless of an individual’s physical condition.