There are many people in the UK with mobility problems. It doesn’t matter if it’s your friend, relative, or even yourself. It can be one of the natural aging processes or may be the result of an accident or condition from birth. It’s important to remember however, that the term “disabled” is a rather blanket like one, covering all manner of problems. It may be that you cannot walk far unaided; you may struggle with stairs and steep inclines; or you may even require a wheelchair.
Getting out and about to explore new places and meet new people is a great way to spend your free time, whether you’re retired, disabled or both. You don’t have to endure the hassle of going abroad either, as there are many beautiful spots to enjoy in the UK. Regardless of your age, having a disability does not mean that you cannot still have fun. You may be surprised at just how many places cater for those with disabilities.
While you’ll be used to getting around on a daily basis, when it comes to booking a holiday, there are many points to take into consideration. Here is our round up of travel tips for disabled holidaymakers to help you ensure that you have a truly memorable UK break.
Tips for disabled travel
These tips will cover the most important things to consider when booking your holiday, to help ensure that both you and the holiday provider are sufficiently prepared and that your holiday runs smoothly.
– Call before you book
You may find it easier to book a hotel or holiday accommodation over the phone. This will allow you to speak to a member of staff and fully detail your requirements, as well as ask any questions you may have. You will appreciate that some hotels may need some time in order to make the necessary arrangements for you. For that reason, calling ahead before you book will help the whole process to run more smoothly. Be sure to mention all of your needs. It may be that you cannot easily walk up stairs. If so, it is a good idea to request a ground floor level room, or enquire whether the hotel has a lift. It may be useful to call the hotel again, 24 to 48 hours prior to your arrival to confirm that all necessary arrangements have been made.
– Be as clear as possible when describing your disability
When stating the medical term for your disability, don’t rely on the fact that the hotel staff will fully understand the extent of it. The more descriptive and detailed information you can give about the nature of your disability and the restrictions it imposes on you, the better. This will allow the hotel provider to fully accommodate your needs. Consider the various special room facilities you will require, and be sure to inform the hotel. Many hotels claim to have disabled access but do not go into detail about the specifics, let alone mention room facilities. It may be that you require grab rails, adjustable bed height, teletext function on the TV, accessible telephone in the room, level entry shower, or even a small fridge to store your medication. It’s always better to inform the hotel of your requirements in advance, so that they can prepare for your arrival and to give you peace of mind.
– Prepare for an emergency
No-one likes to think of the worst case scenario, but by being prepared before you go, the smoother the process will be should an emergency occur. If you have a disability, you should always make sure you carry a doctor’s note detailing your condition, any medication you require, potential complications that can arise, as well as any other important and relevant information. Take the phone number of your doctor with you so that they can be contacted in the event of an emergency.
– Pack extra medication
Many doctors advise that you should take extra medication with you when travelling. It is prudent to take an extra two boxes of your essential medication to ensure that you are equipped in the event of an emergency. If you require a fridge to store your medication, be sure to inform the hotel of this before you arrive.
– Always carry medical alert information
It is essential that you always have some kind of medical alert information on your person. Keep this close to your identification, for example, in your wallet or purse, as this is the first place someone will look when assisting you.
Transport options for disabled travellers
If you’re used to just staying local, you may not realise just how varied your options are when it comes to transportation. In recent years, the leisure and travel industry has become much more aware of disabilities, and as such, has made provisions to help those in your situation. Here are some of the options available to you.
If you will require the help of a staff member when boarding or alighting a train, you should let the train company know in advance. While you’re at it, it is a good idea to check whether the train stations you’re travelling to and from have disabled facilities. All intercity, cross country and local trains provide dedicated wheelchair space. You should park your chair in this space and apply the brakes (or turn the power off if you have an electric wheelchair) during transit. You may also be eligible for a disabled person’s railcard. This will allow you to save up to a third off the overall price of your travel. When applying, you must provide evidence of a relevant disability to qualify.
– Cars, buses and coaches
Having a disability may not prevent you from driving; however you should check the governmental rules with regards to driving with a medical disability. You may be eligible to apply for a Blue Badge, which you can display in your car to enable you to park as close as possible to your destinations.
Disabled travellers are entitled to a free bus pass, which can be used on any bus within England and Wales under specified conditions:
- Any time at the weekend or on a bank holiday
- Between 9:30am and 11pm during the weekdays
It is a legal requirement for coach and bus drivers to give reasonable assistance to disabled passengers. This does not require the physical lifting of passengers or heavy mobility equipment. Those requiring assistance boarding and alighting a coach should request this when booking the travel ticket.
– Taxis and minicabs
There are laws in larger cities requiring all licensed taxis to have wheelchair accessibility. You can find out if this applies in your local area by contacting your local council’s taxi licensing office.
You may not be aware, but if you have an assistance dog, it will be allowed to travel with you in any taxi at no extra cost, providing the driver does not have an exemption certificate. The following types of dogs are allowed in taxis and minicabs:
- Guide dogs trained by Guide Dogs Organisation
- Hearing dogs trained by Hearing Dogs
- Assistance dogs trained by Dogs for the Disabled, Canine Partners or Support Dogs
However, it is essential that your dog is wearing its harness at all times when travelling. The dog should also remain on the floor on the taxi or minicab, and if any damage is caused to the vehicle, you may be asked to pay for it.
As you can see, there are multiple viable options for getting to and from your UK holiday destination. Should you wish to explore the surrounding local area, the advantage of disabled-friendly transport options will allow you to do so hassle free. It may sound like there is a lot to consider prior to your arrival, but the more organised and prepared you can be, the smoother your holiday will run. Let’s face it, holidays are all about having fun, so make sure your next UK holiday is a break to remember for all the right reasons.
Guide by Warner Leisure Hotels