Planning a trip abroad can be exciting and daunting. It can feel like a big task when you have access needs. But the more you plan and book in advance, the more comfortable and enjoyable your trip will be.
A specialist travel company can help you plan at an extra cost if you’re anxious about travelling and can afford it. You may want to consider an all-inclusive holiday where travel, accommodation, food and trips are organised for you.
There are different ways you can travel depending on your condition and destination:
You can book ‘special assistance’ when you buy your tickets so the airline knows what support you need at the airport and during the flight.
Most airports and airlines offer support and facilities for disabled passengers, including:
accessible toilets and changing rooms at airports
buggies and hover buses to help you get across the airport and to your gate
rooms or lounges that can be quieter for people with anxiety and sensory issues
pagers that let you know when you can board your flight
Sunflower lanyards that let airport staff know you have a less visible condition or impairment
Different staff may support you at different points in the airport.
You must book special assistance at least 48 hours before your flight to make sure that the airline can meet your needs. You can also let them know if you have allergies when booking your airline meal.
You may need to organise transport to and from the airport separately.
For hotel stays, check their general facilities like restaurants, bars and swimming pools. Contact them to explain your access needs and ask for details. You may be able to negotiate a discount for things included in the price that are not accessible to you.
Warning Ask for photos of the room
Hotels do not usually put photographs of accessible rooms on their website. Ask them to send you pictures of the room and bathroom to see if it will work for you before you book.
Transport and sightseeing
Researching the area where you’ll be staying is a more exciting part of planning. Discover what there is to do and how you can get around.
Check public transport options to see if they’re accessible to you. If they are not suitable, your hotel or host may be able to help you arrange a private car or taxi service.
Research attractions and activities in the area like places to eat and drink, museums, galleries, historic sites and beaches. Check their websites.
Check how much disability equipment and luggage you can take if you’re flying or going by rail or coach. Ask your travel provider if they offer an additional luggage allowance.
Get mobility equipment like your wheelchair serviced before you go to make sure it’s in working order. Find local providers that can repair it or give you a replacement if you need it. You may want to take spare parts with you.
Check what power adaptors you’ll need to charge your electronic equipment too.
Buying travel insurance
Travel insurance policies cover things like medical costs, equipment and cancellations. This should cover some of the costs if something happens before or during your trip.
Buy insurance as soon as you book your trip so that you have it if anything happens before you go.