Despite having a disability my whole life, mobility has only begun having a significant and unavoidable impact on my life in the last couple of years. This made my recent jaunt to France a totally different experience than any holidays I have had before. Normally I would be off exploring first thing in the morning, finding hidden treasures around the area and really getting a feel for it like a local. This time I could barely manage morning outings to get coffee and pain aux raisin. Fortunately, I was still able to have a wonderful holiday but there are some simple steps I will be taking on every future holiday.
Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
The world is not made for people with disabilities. Despite the many regulations now stipulating accessible facilities, things change slowly. Most places in London are not accessible, so it’s unlikely that a little holiday destination will have got the memo (or have enough disabled visitors to “justify” the changes). So what can you do? Make a list of your requirements – whether that’s accessible bathrooms, no steps/stairs, wet room required etc. – and get searching. There are some wonderful tools where you can plan fully accessible holidays easily in one place (list below). If you are keen to do it yourself and really get a feel for your holiday, then be prepared to contact the various companies/venues/hotels that you are interested in visiting. Despite information on websites, I have found these can very often be out of date, so it’s best not to rely on them entirely. I find emailing in advance is the best policy. Emailing is great because if there is a language barrier then I can use google translate ahead of time, plus it ensures that you have an email documenting your queries should you ever need it!
Accessible Holiday Search Website – I personally have not used these so I would love to hear from any of you that have done!
Keep Your Chin Up!
Whether it’s a lift being ‘out of order’ or issues with a pre-arranged support, things will not always go to plan no matter how much you plan ahead. Add the fact you are in an unfamiliar setting, possibly not speaking the language, it can be frustrating and very disheartening when things go wrong. You can’t plan for everything but keeping a positive attitude when these things happen is key. I don’t mean to sound patronising. I say that from a place of genuine experience. When I am in a lot of pain, if the smallest things go wrong it can really impact my mood. When I went on holiday I decided that I would not let this happen and chose to stay positive when things went wrong. I still got annoyed, but instead of letting it bubble up and bring down my whole day, I brushed it off and tried to think about a resolution/workaround!
Get Travel Insurance
Fingers crossed that by following the previous steps you can avoid any situations that might cause you any problems, but you can’t plan against everything. Having good travel insurance – specifically for those with pre-existing conditions is best – will protect you should the worst happen whilst you are away from home. Always check out MoneySavingExpert so you can find the best deal. I managed to get full cover insurance for £16 this time, which allowed me to rest easy whilst on holiday. No one should have to worry about finances when they are in a hospital!
Disability is a spectrum of needs and abilities, but these tricks should be suitably helpful for everyone. But figure out what works for you and don’t be afraid think outside the box. If you have any clever tips and tricks that you use when travelling, I would love to hear from you!