It is a sad fact that around 75% of people with restricted mobility such as wheelchair users and those that have difficulties walking never take a holiday and only ever travel unless it is essential. The good news is that many of the access issues of the past are now a great deal better, partly because of the UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and the Equality Act as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but also because society has changed and sees people with a disability as “people” it took a long time but we got there (well in the UK, many European countries and the most of the U.S anyway)
Of course, every disability is individual and often it’s as much about confidence as it is how accessible things are but I hope sharing my thoughts and experiences with travelling as a wheelchair user helps some of you along with sharing this post about tips for travelling with mobility difficulties.
Travelling by Air
This has been covered time and time again in many websites so I am not going to repeat what has already been said, however, the most important thing is never assume that the airport or the airline you are using will automatically appear from nowhere to help you, they won’t! Always, yes always! tell them about any special requirements or assistance you need at least 24hrs before you travel and then go to the check-in desk or reception immediately you arrive at the airport and tell them again and be very specific about the amount of help needed. Don’t ever think you are being a pain, airports are busy places and your needs can easily get forgotten.
Cruise holidays are probably one of the most accessible and carefree ways to enjoy a holiday, always choose a big/well known company to enjoy large, wheelchair accessible cabins with roll-in WC and showers, full lifts to all areas and again, tell them about any special requirements well in advance such as medical equipment needed onboard, wheelchair accessible excursions etc. A great independent accessible cruise resource can be found here along with many other travel related tips.
Buses, Trains and Taxis
Thankfully THE UK government are keen to reduce car travel and this means that a great deal of buses are easy (or easier) to access. Just make sure you hold on, many drivers are budding F1 would-be linatics!
All licenced Black Cabs are wheelchair accessible and have room for you and two adults to travel in the back with the wheelchair user remaining in the wheelchair. TIP: If you hail a Black Cab from a wheelchair, only hail it if the cab can stop with the passenger side against the curb. You cant get in from the drivers side. If they cant stop that way for example on a one-way street they will just not stop. London accessible taxi guides can be found here and include details of the cab features such as portable ramps, hearing loops, swivel seat etc. Also remember that most large taxi firms also have fully wheelchair accessible vehicles but you may need to book, just call and ask.
Travelling by train with a disability can be touch and go, although things are a great deal better than a few years back. The important thing is to check with your station for the amount of assistance and access available. It will be possible to travel by train but it may mean juggling where you get on and off!
Visual Impairment and Blind Travel
Because I don’t have a visual impairment or no experience of travelling with blindness or vision problems I don’t feel qualified to offer advice, instead I have found some of the best resources in the UK and these include Traveleyes, Mind’s Eye Travel and Leisure and Travel Concessions info offered by the RNIB. Summer is just around the corner so get yourself out there, remember travelling with a disability is possible for most disabilities, it just takes more planning!