Starting to travel on your own

How you start travelling independently will depend on your needs and the support you have. You might want access to your own vehicle or perhaps you prefer public transport.

Your local authority, school, college or doctor may provide travel training. You can also start planning your own journeys, and practise travelling with a friend. 

If you receive the higher mobility rate for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the Motability scheme can help with the cost of driving lessons and the lease of a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair.


Travel planning

Local authorities must publish all services available to support disabled children and their families in the area. This is called the Local Offer. Your Local Offer should include travel training.

Your school, college, local charities and some medical services may also offer travel training and advice.

If you are under 18

You can talk with your transition keyworker about what you need. If you do not have a transition keyworker, you can ask your local authority for a transition assessment.

If your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan

Check the EHC plan, sometimes also called an EHCP. See if learning how to travel independently is part of it.

If you think travel training should be in the plan but it is not, you should say so. You could do this at the EHC plan review or earlier.

Practising travelling

You can practise the route with a friend, family member or support worker.

You could ask them to hang back, let you lead and only help in an emergency. This means that you can try doing the things that other people might have done for you in the past.

For example, you could phone ahead to see if someone can be at the station to support you, buy a ticket or ask staff for help. You could also tell someone when to expect you.

Asking for travel help and advice

Planning journeys

Travelling on your own means making your own decisions. This includes:

  • working out how long it will take you to make a journey
  • leaving extra time in case you need it
  • planning who you will travel
  • starting to manage your own care when you travel

Using travel apps can help.

Planning journeys and getting assistance, including using apps

What to do when something goes wrong on your journey

 

Talking to friends about supporting you

Your close friends may want to help you, but might not know how to. Talk to them about the kind of support you need and how they could help.

You might also need to remind them that your needs might change, particularly if you’re doing a new journey.

Talking with your parents

You might prefer to start travelling with friends or a support worker rather than your parents.

You should explain that travelling without them will help you get more confident.

You could say something like:

“I’ll be going with [friends]. They’ll make sure that we get there. We’ll call when we arrive.”

Driving

You can lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair through the Motability Scheme if you’ve been awarded:

  • the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for 12 months or more
  • the enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for 12 months or more

You join the scheme by using these benefits to pay. Joining will allow you to lease a vehicle, and cover most costs apart from fuel.

If you are not a member of Motability, you can still get help with the costs of owning and adapting a car.

The Blue Badge scheme can also make it easier to park nearer to the places you want to go. 

Provisional driving licence

You can apply for your first provisional driving licence up to 3 months before you turn 16 if you have applied for or you’re receiving either:

  • the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • the enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Provisional Driving Licence (Disability Driving Instructors)

Driving lessons

If you are a Motability customer, the charity may pay for up to 40 hours of driving lessons.

Help with the cost of driving lessons (Motability)

If you’re not a Motability member, there are:

Public transport

You may be entitled to free or subsidised travel. Not all public transport may be accessible to you. 

Finding out how accessible different transport providers are

Trains

You can book assistance to get on and off trains. Sometimes staff may not be there to help, or will only be there at certain times. 

Planning journeys and getting assistance

Using a railcard can make your ticket cheaper. You can only use one railcard on your journey.

The Disabled Persons Railcard gives a third off travel on all trains for you and an adult travelling with you. 

The 16-25 railcard gives you a third off train travel. But, this railcard can only be used for one person, and there is a minimum charge for journeys made before 10am Monday to Friday. If you’re over 25 but you’re studying full-time, you’re also eligible. 

The Two Together railcard gives you a third off train travel for you and the other adult on the railcard.

Buses

You may be able to get free or discounted bus travel from your local authority. Check with your local authority if you’re eligible. You will normally be eligible if you claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

If your local authority will not give you discounted travel, local charities may be able to give advice.

A bus-hail card lets you stop a bus and get on it between bus stops. It is a card with ‘BUS’ on it. Your local authority or transport provider may be able to give you one.

The ramps for buses work in different ways. The ramp on your bus may be automatic, or you may need to ask the driver for support.

Taxis

Your local authority may give disabled people discounts for using taxis. Check with your local authority.

Not all taxi firms have wheelchair accessible taxis, but some do. Accessible taxis can sometimes be more expensive.

Travelling to work

Access to Work grants can help to pay for some of your travel costs if you cannot use public transport or need to adapt your vehicle. This could include taxi journeys if your condition means that public transport is not accessible to you. 

Receiving money for taxis can take 2 months or more. You will either need to:

  • pay for the taxi, keep receipts and fill in a claim form and wait for the money to be returned to you
  • get an account with the company

Access to Work (GOV.UK)

 

Last reviewed by Scope on: 09/05/2019

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