Although travelling with a disability can present its fair share of challenges, those who have adventure calling in their soul have no need to miss out and stay at home. Although getting around and exploring an unfamiliar destination might initially appear daunting, more disabled travellers than ever are fulfilling their dreams and embracing the world of travel – the key to ensuring a smooth journey is all in the preparation.
Calling ahead to discuss your requirements with your chosen accommodation before booking is an essential consideration whilst thoughtful research can help ensure you choose accessible attractions to visit and restaurants to dine in.
However, for many travellers living with a disability, it is the journey and not the destination that can inspire the greatest apprehension. A busy airport and long-haul flight can be difficult for people of all levels of mobility to navigate, but a disability should not be a barrier to air travel and enjoying that well-deserved holiday. Here are a few top tips to help you reach your destination safely and navigate the airport with confidence:
Forward planning is paramount when travelling with a disability. Book flights well in advance and call the airline to discuss your requirements. It is important to make a note of the time and date of your call as well as the name of the airline representative just in case there is any confusion in the future. Be very specific about any assistance you require and ask the airlines any questions, which will help you feel more comfortable with the process. Remember to call back a couple of days before you fly to double-check arrangements and put your mind at ease.
Carefully consider just what you might need before, during and immediately after your flight and ensure it is all easily accessible. If you have a wheelchair, make a note of its dimensions and consider taking spare parts with you in case of any emergency breakdowns. Don’t forget to properly label all your equipment with your name and forwarding address on the off-chance anything goes missing during the journey. Ensure you have a doctor’s note if you are bringing any medication or medical equipment with you.
It is advisable to arrive an hour earlier than the time usually stipulated by the airline to ensure there is plenty of time for arrangements to be made and to avoid any lengthy delays at check-in and going through security. It will also cut down on the stress factor so that you arrive for your flight feeling as relaxed as possible.
Forewarned is forearmed so try to print a map of the airport – many will have their layout detailed online. If you have mobility issues, this can be extremely helpful as you can work out where the toilets and lifts are as well as where you can purchase refreshments instead of spending too long moving around looking for where you need to go. You can also map out the route you will need to take to make it through security and to your gate.
Travelling with an assistant is only required should the airline deem that your disability could prevent you from evacuating the aircraft in an emergency situation; however, the airline is not obligated to provide you with one during the flight. With advance notice, the airport can provide an escort to help you through security and to board your plane if needed. However, you might want a friend or family member to assist you, even if they are not travelling that day. You can request a special permit at the check-in desk, which will allow your companion to pass through security without a ticket in order to provide you with assistance before your flight.
Purchasing the right travel cover for your journey is extremely important when travelling with a disability. Although nobody likes to think about things going wrong when they are off on holiday, unforeseen events can and do occur. Remember to double-check that any mobility equipment is sufficiently covered in case of loss or damage and that you always have a back-up plan, just in case of an emergency.
Medical Travel Compared is a comparison website that can help you shop around for the best travel insurance for your circumstances. Once that’s out of the way, you can get back to focusing on planning your well-deserved break.