Tips for travelling with mobility difficulties

September 2017

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Going on holiday abroad or enjoying a staycation within the UK should be an exciting and memorable experience, but for those with mobility problems it can be difficult and stressful.

Older people who need modern stairlifts at home might worry about going away due to limited accessibility, but here a number of experts have suggested ways older travellers with mobility problems can travel without fear.

This guide takes you through the potential problems that those with mobility problems may encounter as well as the tips to help during a break away.

Potential issues those with mobility problems may encounter on holiday

Damaged equipment

Although uncommon, essential mobility equipment like a wheelchair or a walking stick might get damaged whilst travelling.

Jeri Murphy from Anything Is Possible Travel, says "Essential equipment (i.e., wheelchair) being damaged by airlines, inadequate or non-accessible toilet facilities, public transportation that cannot accommodate wheelchair users, excessive fatigue due to the extra energy required to navigate new terrain are all potential problems."

Uneven ground

Uneven ground is an issue those with mobility issues have to contend with either at home or away.

Stride Travel, the world’s largest search and reviews site, adds, "When taking a sightseeing holiday issues with uneven ground can occur even in places you would typically expect to have accessible ramps."

Using public transport

This point applies more to travelling abroad, as depending on the destination you are travelling to, the public transport vehicle might not be fully equipped for those with mobility problems.

It is worth finding out either from the transport operator or the company you booked the holiday with to check that they can offer the assistance required.

Tips for going on holiday

Keep travelling

Although older people with a mobility problem may feel going on holiday is too much hassle, it is important not to avoid this school of thought.

Jeri Murphy from Anything Is Possible Travel, says, "Plan well, enlist the help of professionals, and keep traveling! There's so much to see, near and far; don't let your disability keep you from enjoying the world as much as possible!"

Use a travel agent

If you use a travel agent, they can do most of the work for you and will know the questions that need to asked. This will reduce the stress caused when booking a hotel and flights and should ensure your trip away is as relaxing as possible.

Jeri Murphy, says, "First, consider using a travel agent who specializes in accessible travel. They know the right questions to ask in order to ensure that your transportation and lodging arrangements will meet your needs."

Stride Travel, adds, “When in doubt, go with a pro and find the right travel expert, either custom travel agent or specialist tour operator help you arrange the perfect trip for you and your needs."

Do additional planning

Those planning to organise their holiday independently will need to do some additional planning.

Garry Nelson of AllClear, a specialist in medical travel insurance, has some top tips to minimise risk and maximise your fun.

He says, “Whether you have a mobility issue, a visual impairment or any other disability, you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure you get the right service for you. If you have a wheelchair, for example, ask whether the aeroplane, boat, bus or train has wheelchair accessible areas, and if you have a carer, where he or she will be seated.”

Stride Travel says, "If you have limited mobility, it’s important to know the specific limitations of yourself or your travel companion. With this in mind, you will benefit from doing some additional planning regarding logistics, especially if you are doing a sightseeing holiday. Then you should build in some extra time for contingencies - from scouting out comfortable resting places on a map to knowing opening and closing times to and local transportation schedules to make sure you don't feel too rushed or stressed as you explore. If you don't want to plan all the logistics yourself, you can always find and compare the best professionally planned trips and tour operators on Stride Travel.

"There is no need to let having mobility challenges completely prevent you from having an active holiday. With the right planning, the right travel companions or tour guide, you can see and experience most of the world's breathtaking experiences - both natural and cultural.”

Disclose your needs

Jeri Murphy, adds, "Also, disclose all of your needs, such as accessible toilet and roll-in shower, door openings wide enough to accommodate your wheelchair, shuttle with wheelchair lift, etc.
“Be aware of your rights and resources and make a complaint or request for resolution immediately if you do not receive the assistance required by law. Your travel agent is one resource; Complaints Resolution Officer (CRO) at the airport is another.

Ensure you have rest days

While everyone wants to see and do as much as possible whilst they are away in a new country or are visiting a destination they haven’t ever visited in the UK, it is just as important to ensure you have enough rest.

Jeri Murphy, adds, “If low energy is one of your disability symptoms, be sure to allow enough time to rest between activities. A day of travel, followed by a low-key rest-and-rejuvenate day, followed by a sightseeing day, followed by a low-key day."

Stay in the most accessible parts of the destination

While it is important to pick a really accessible hotel, it is also vital to check that the part of town you intend to stay in is also really accessible.

Important things to check include finding out whether there are lots of hills and stairs in the area, are there any cobbled streets, are there accessible attractions and restaurants close-by?

It is worth older people with a mobility problem checking with the hotel itself regarding the surrounding area and other accessibility questions. Another check to make is to look on Google Maps to see if there is a drop on curbs and to look at the state of the pavements.

Garry Nelson of AllClear, adds, “It’s important to thoroughly discuss all your requirements with your travel company, and don’t feel you need to stick to staying in hotels. Many lodges on safari, for example, feature fully accessible and adapted rooms, and even some tented camps are suitably modified.”

Always have a back-up plan

No matter whether someone with mobility issues is going on a planned excursion or is just heading down to the local beach, something can go wrong.

If plans are in place for every possible circumstance, it will put their minds at risk. So if your initial mode of transport has broken down or if there is some kind of strike, it is important to check what the next best method of travel is.

If, whilst on holiday, an older person's wheelchair or other walking aid breaks, it could ruin a holiday. However, if spare parts for the particular mobility aid have been packed it means the problem is resolved quickly and conveniently.

Follow the FCO advice

AllClear’s Garry Nelson says it is worth following the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice.

He says, “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides travel advice on some 225 countries or territories and gives best advice on where/where not to travel. The Travel Health Pro and NHS Fit To Travel websites are other useful sources of information. Remember, you will not be covered on your travel insurance if you travel to a country or area where the FCO advises the public not to travel.”

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Tips for travelling with mobility difficulties
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