If you are travelling with a disability, you may need to do some extra planning to make sure your trip abroad goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s some guidance on extra steps you may need to take.
Consult your doctor
Describe the trip you are planning to your doctor, giving as much specific information as possible, so they can give you the right advice.
Travel with a statement from your doctor, preferably on letterhead, which describes your condition, medications, potential complications, assistance requirements and any other pertinent information. Make sure the letter contains a contact number for your doctor.
Investigate how to find a doctor at your destination, in case you need to consult one while travelling.
A little research can go a long way to making your trip easier. Every country will have different regulations on accessibility infrastructure, and different often varying degrees of implementation. Contact the hotels, tourist offices and transport companies you will be using during your visit. Try to describe your needs as clearly and specifically as possible, as not all service providers know the terminology of accessible travel, and misunderstandings could hinder you from getting what you need.
Call the company you’re travelling with well ahead of your departure. Service providers are required by law in many cases to accommodate travellers with accessibility requirements, but giving some notice will help their staff provide you with the right attention and facilities.
If you feel that service providers’ abilities to provide ample support will impact your comfort or enjoyment whilst travelling, you might consider using a specialist travel agent who will be able to give you knowledgeable help in organizing your trip, but also be better placed to deliver a more personalised service.
Flying with a disability
Although wheelchairs are the last items to be checked into the luggage compartments, and thus first to be brought out, flying direct can save you unnecessary time and hassle. Where connections are unavoidable, try to leave as much time between transfers as possible. The airport should be able to advise you on how long you’ll need to comfortably make your connection.
Allow plenty of time before your flight to check in, go through security and transfer to your gate. Talk to your flight attendant before your plane lands, so you can make a plan for exit.
Don’t forget about transportation to and from the airport. If you have a wheelchair, make arrangements in advance for an accessible vehicle to pick you up at your destination.
Travelling with medication
Carry extra medication. Travel with two complete packages of essential medication in case of emergency, and store all medications and other necessary medical supplies in your carry-on bag.
Carry medical alert information, preferably in a place that a medical professional or anyone who assists you will find it easily – for example as a wallet card, or a necklace or with your identification.
Travelling with equipment
If you’re travelling with mobility equipment, assemble a small kit of spare parts and tools in case you need to do emergency repairs.
Always ensure that you have Travel Insurance that covers all of your needs, and that will protect you in an emergency. You will need to declare existing conditions and disabilities before you buy insurance, or you may not be able to claim.
For more information on travelling with a disability, you can visit the gov.uk site.