Travel can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling pleasures in life and everyone should have the opportunity to experience different countries and cultures.
If you have a physical disability or medical condition, it can sometimes make travelling that little bit trickier. We’ve approached some of our favourite bloggers to get their top tips and advice for travelling with a disability or medical condition.
“My no.1 tip is to allow as much time as possible when getting on and off trains; if the porter is late, you have time to chase them up!”
Emma has also blogged about her experiences with train journeys here, as well as an entire series on her trip to London, which you can read here, here, and here! The tagline of Emma’s blog (which she even has tattooed!) is “Disability Doesn’t Mean I Can’t” – so, as you can imagine, Emma is all about finding ways to ensure she can do anything she sets her mind to.
As Emma mentions, those with disabilities shouldn’t have to call up 24 hours in advance of a journey to ensure that they have the appropriate equipment to help them on and off the train. You can aid your train journey however, by arriving earlier than normal to advise staff of the assistance you require.
Do your research
“Travelling as a disabled person can be stressful as there is only so much you can control, as well as having to rely on others a lot more. My advice would be to speak to other disabled people and find out where they enjoyed going on holiday and facilities they used. That way you can get real-life feedback on where would be most suitable for you, rather than trial and error along the way.”
We approached bloggers with disabled travel experience, so we could provide you with the best possible and realistic advice, instead of just a list of generic tips. Gem’s advice here is to do the same, by asking other disabled people or those with the same medical condition as you what experiences they have had before, how they learnt from them, and how you can apply those experiences to your own travels in the future.
Plan in advance
“Dan and mine’s top tip for travelling with a disability or chronic illness would be to ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’. So, assume that you’ll have access issues, health challenges, etc. and have some idea how you might get around these if they arise. Simple things like leaving extra time to get through the airport can reduce how stressful difficult situations can be. We’d also say that it’s important to explain your needs to the airline, hotel, etc. ahead of time. There’s much more they can do to help if you give them advanced notice.
For example, if you have specific dietary requirements, it’s much easier for a hotel restaurant to come up with suitable alternatives than if you tell them as you come to order. There’s still always things that will go wrong – messages don’t get passed on or people don’t understand what they’ve been told. But at least you’ll know that you’ve done everything you possible can and hopefully you’ll have fewer difficulties to deal with as a result.”
Tania offers some great advice and food for thought. Planning ahead can prevent any issues occurring that would cause you unnecessary stress otherwise. If there’s a language barrier with the country you’re visiting, communicating your personal requirements beforehand can ensure these are met successfully.
Get the right insurance
Travelling to different countries can be daunting at the best of times, perhaps even more so when you have a disability or pre-existing medical condition that could affect how you travel. Getting the right travel insurance for you is vital for giving you peace of mind; you want to enjoy your trip to the fullest, without any unnecessary worry weighing on you. And remember, there are a lot of travel insurance myths out there which could put you off getting the right policy.
“Take technology with you, such as portable chargers for your phone or tablet, so you can research while travelling.”
Technology has advanced so much in the past decade that you can rely on different apps and websites to help plan your trips, as well as guide you along the way. Gem suggests some more practical advice of ensuring you take portable chargers to keep your devices full of life, so you can discover new and exciting places on your travels.
If you’re trying to find out if an attraction is accessible, try searching the words ‘accessible’, ‘wheelchair’, or ‘disabled’ in the review section of the attraction’s Tripadvisor page. The experiences of others can really help you to get a true sense of how accessible somewhere is before you visit!
“Sometimes you may need plan B or C – but it’s all experience for the next trip!”
Travel for anyone can be a learning curve, but as Gem states, you might need a few scenarios and strategies that will help you out in a number of different circumstances – and the more you travel, the more you’ll understand your own needs and how to plan appropriately for future adventures.
Thanks to all the bloggers who gave their advice for this article!