Questions to ask when booking a holiday with limited mobility, disability and care needs

 

Holidays can be a little daunting if you have restricted mobility, so here are some questions to ask before you book, with helpful information guides too. Happy travelling!

We have come up with a list of frequently asked questions, and we hope the right answers!

We know that one of the most important things to do when booking your holiday is to ask questions, particularly if you have special requests or need to be 100% certain that your exact requirements are in place.  There is a big difference between a special request (which cannot be guaranteed) and an essential requirement, and it’s important to let your travel agent or tour operator know which of your requirements fall into each category at the time of booking.

It’s a useful tip to consider mapping out your journey, from leaving home to arriving at your destination, considering all the potential challenges on the way. And then do a similar exercise for your daily routine when you’re away, This could reduce the risk of unexpected challenges.

With these in mind, you can then ask all the necessary questions of your  tour operator or travel agent. And why not compare different companies while researching your holiday and write down your queries and the answers you’re given.

Transfers and transport

For your airport transfer, do you need a specially adapted taxi, will there be assistance from the car park to check in and through to the plane? If you would like a wheelchair or buggy, the airline will need to know in advance and each airline has a different policy. These can be found on the airline’s websites.

Maps of many airports are now available on the internet, so you can easily find toilets, reserved seating and information points and plan your time at the airport in advance.

Some airlines allow you to keep your wheelchair with you until you get to the aircraft, and you can’t, then the airline must provide a suitable wheelchair for you. One tip we have been given is to attach a laminated photocopy of how to dismantle/assemble your wheelchair, so it can be handled properly.

Likewise with oxygen canisters, it’s important to mention this when booking, as most airlines need at least 7 days’ notice and there is usually a charge for carrying these. Read more information.

Enable HolidaysBefore booking, if you have a medical condition that could affect your suitability to fly, get a certificate from your doctor to show you are well enough to travel. Here’s some useful information for those on dialysis.

Blind, partially sighted or deaf passengers, and especially those travelling alone, should advise their travel companies and airlines know well in advance so staff can provide immediate assistance should there be an emergency or simply some extra support for a smooth journey.

And of course upon arrival at your destination, you will need to ask about getting to your transfer through the airport, and how the transfer vehicle will accommodate your needs. All of this needs to be arranged at the time of booking so that a special vehicle can be arranged to be waiting for you at the airplane door if necessary.

Car Rental

If you need a hands controlled car, this will  need to be requested well in advance from the car hire company and confirmed to you in writing. Always book your car through a reputable supplier with a published policy for hands controlled cars, as it’s not worth leaving anything to chance.

It’s important to remember that you are entitled to certain levels of assistance by European law when you fly, if you are a person with reduced mobility (PRM). Read more information.

At your destination

Whether you are staying in a hotel, cruise ship, self-catering cottage or log cabin, depending upon your individual requirements, our suggestions include asking questions about outside and inside ramps for wheelchairs, lifts, a suitably adapted room, with flat floor shower, grab rails, bed and light switches at the correct height, wooden flooring (better for wheelchairs), notices in Braille and induction loops.

You may prefer to hire equipment at your destination, ,but to avoid any disappointment, be very sure you’ve checked it is available, the cost and if it can be delivered to where you are staying.

Richmond RetreatsIt may also be useful to find out about adapted leisure facilities locally available, such as swimming pool lifts.  Local tourist information websites usually have a wealth of information, or email them directly and ask the question. That is what they are there for!

If you require a special diet, do check with the tour operator or travel agent that this can be provided before booking.

And it can be useful to know just how far a main hospital is from where you’re staying, just in case.

And of course, if you are planning to go out and about on organised excursions, you’ll want to ask questions about the transport and the available facilities: for example, are ramps or hydraulic lifts available, how many steps are involved when visiting attractions, if suitable toilets will be available on the trip and if equipment, such as mobility aids, can be taken along.

And finally ...

Once you’re comfortable that all your questions are answered to your satisfaction, and you are making a reservation, it’s really advisable to get all your requests written onto the booking form and confirmed back to you, so that both you and the booking agent   are completely clear about your requirements.

Holiday activities for those with reduced mobility and visual or hearing impairment, details here.

Information and tips for your holidays whatever your physical ability, read more.

If you have any further queries, please get in touch with us at [email protected].

Read more about Richmond Retreats, holidays with care in the UK and Enable Holidays, for those with limited mobility who are travelling abroad.

Please note that the information given is by way of suggestion only. It is correct, to the best of our knowledge, but we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions on our part.

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