If you’re planning an accessible holiday this summer, rest assured you’re in excellent company. Research by VisitEngland has found that the accessible tourism market in England alone is worth at least £3 billion for overnight trips whilst, across the pond, the US Open Doors Organisation estimates disabled adults in the US spend an eye-watering $17.3 billion a year on travel.
As the market has expanded, so too has the choice in accessible holidays. Great news for those keen to book a break, perfectly tailored to their needs, with the minimum of hassle. However, for those who prefer the more independent form of travel, arranging their own accommodation as a base to explore the destination of their dreams might be a more likely scenario than booking a package deal.
It is more than possible to take the arrangements for your accessible accommodation into your own hands with a little forethought and direct communication with your host. However, as it can be all too easy for misunderstandings to arise or small yet crucial details to slip through the net, we’ve put together an accessible accommodation checklist you can talk through with your hotel or alternative accommodation provider to ensure a comfortable and accessible stay.
Before you’ve even reached your room, there are a few essential considerations to take into account. Check that the property has a step-free approach with both bedrooms and key public areas accessible from ground level or via a lift of appropriate size. Check that there is an accessible bathroom at entrance level and that there is suitable parking at an appropriate distance.
Be sure not to make the mistake of assuming that the measurements of your personal wheelchair will match those of the hotel or holiday property you are interested in. Whether planning a trip here in the UK or looking to travel further afield, check the exact measurements of doorways, lifts and corridors to be sure your wheels will fit through with ease. Ask for room dimensions or a floor plan if you would like to check that there is sufficient space to turn a wheelchair, too.
Check that the necessary adaptations have been made to your room so that you don’t have any difficulties on arrival, which might prove irritating during your stay. Features to consider might include grab rails in the bathroom, a roll-in shower or one with a seat, non-slip mats, lever taps, lowered hanging space in wardrobes, and mid-height switches and power sockets.
On arrival in an unfamiliar destination, it’s likely that your accommodation provider might offer some useful information about travel timetables or the surrounding area. Check that the information is supplied in an appropriate form for you i.e. a larger print if you have some visual impairment. Additionally, check that visual or vibrating fire alarms are available if required as well as a method of calling for emergency assistance.
Once you have assured yourself that the accommodation you are considering is suitable for your trip, you might want to check the accessibility of any facilities or local attractions as well as the method of transportation you might use. After all, the ardent explorer won’t just want to sit in their room all day, no matter how comfortable it might be. Check the hotel’s leisure centre and spa for accessibility as well as nearby restaurants, shops, bars and the type of terrain you will have to cover to get around independently.
Running through your accessible accommodation checklist when planning your trip should allay any concerns about what you might expect on arrival and free up your mind to think about more important things, like having a holiday worth writing home about.
Medical Travel Compared can also help cut down dwell-time on dull but essential tasks – our handy online comparison tool helps you locate the best accessible travel insurance for your money by providing access to a range of reputable insurers that offer a variety of plans. Get a quote for your next trip today.