Tips For Mobility Services Overseas
Traveling abroad is a time in everyone’s life where they get to relax, unwind, and enjoy themselves. Unfortunately, if you have limited mobility it can be difficult to enjoy every moment of your holiday if the correct facilities are not available to help you get around.
To ensure your travels are easy and care-free here are our tips for traveling with disabilities:
Before starting any journey, it is always a good idea to plan ahead. Here are a few things to think about to ensure your holiday is a success
Choose Your Destination Carefully
Wherever you are planning on visiting it’s a good idea to do a bit of research around your destination first to ensure it’s going to be easy to get about and explore.
- Accessibility to local tourist attractions, are there wheelchair ramps, accessible lifts, wide aisles and smooth terrains?
- How easy it is travel around your destination by bus, train or taxi, how accessible is the transport network and does it take you to where you want to go?
- Areas of the town that are more accessible than others, and whether they have accessible hotels.
- Accessible restaurants close to the hotel of your choice
- The type of terrain within the near vicinity of your accommodation. Is the pavement smooth or are the streets paved with cobblestones? Is the terrain flat or full of steep hills? Are there flights of stairs that will limit your access to certain areas?
Get a good feel for how easy you’re going to find it to explore a destination by checking out Google Map’s Street View. You can also contact hotels with your questions and check out local guide books, UK disability organisations or the embassy/high commission of the country you plan to visit. As well as speaking to specialist tour operators and tourist boards.
Be Clear With Your Hotel About What You Need
The first obstacle that you may face when booking a holiday is not knowing whether your desired hotel is equipped with the correct facilities to make your stay comfortable.
Consider what you need for your stay and before you book ensure your hotel is equipped to cater for your needs. Think about:
Wheelchair & Scooter Access
- Are the main areas of the hotel or resort accessible?
- Are facilities available for charging electrical wheelchairs and scooters?
- How easy is it to access and use public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, swimming pool, beach etc
- Are there options for hiring mobility equipment locally should you need it? This might include such things as back rests, bathing equipment, hoists, ramps and special mattresses?
- Is a lift is available and if so, will your wheelchair or other equipment fit?
Location of the Bedrooms
- Are you able to request a ground floor room or be near a suitable lift?
- Do the bedroom facilities fit your needs, for example, is the door wide enough, does it open outwards or inwards?
- Do the bathroom facilities fit your needs, for example, is the room large enough: is there a roll-in shower or grab-bars?
- Can they cater for your specific dietary requirements, or is there an accessible restaurant nearby that can?
- Do they accept and provide facilities for assistance dogs?
There are many different online travel agents that cater to people with disabilities, and tailor make your holiday to your needs. Getting their advice can prove invaluable in finding and booking the right holiday and accommodation.
It is also a good idea to book hotel rooms very far in advance, as hotels may have a limited amount of disabled access rooms available and you want to make sure that you have yours reserved.
Plan Your Journey in Advance
Traveling can be difficult and stressful at the best of times, particularly when trying to do so with limited mobility and the specialist equipment you need to take with you. Planning your journey in advance, with the help of tour operators and airlines, can help considerably in reducing your worries and ensuring a smooth and stress-free journey.
Consider and plan for:
- How your needs are going to be met during all parts of the journey, including transfers, departure, on-board, at stopovers and at your final destination.
- Booking your seat in advance so you know you can easily access your seat and on-board facilities such as toilets.
- Help with checking-in, traveling around the terminal, boarding and disembarking.
- Communicating your special dietary requirements well in advance.
- Policies for carrying special equipment with you such as wheelchairs, batteries and oxygen.
- Policies for traveling with an assistance dog and any certifications and insurance required, as well as quarantine regulations.
Travel by Aeroplane
Airplanes are very tight, compact spaces and can make boarding difficult with a wheelchair or mobility scooter. You will most likely need an aisle seat that will need booking in advance, to avoid the difficulty of having to climb over other passengers to get to your seat.
Before you travel, it is of paramount importance that you contact your tour operator and airline to ensure they understand your mobility and medical circumstances. For more information on the kinds of information you need to discuss with your airline and tour manager, ABTA have provided a useful checklist to ensure all eventualities are covered.
Travel by Taxi
When ordering a taxi in the UK, you can ask specifically for one with wheelchair access. When abroad it isn’t always so easy to get the message across because of a language barrier. To ensure that this doesn’t become a problem, you should ask your tour provider about ordering a shuttle bus that has wheelchair access so you can get to your hotel.
When at your destination and it comes to traveling about, it is best to speak to your hotel manager for help with finding taxi companies that will cater for your needs.
Back Up Plans
Even the most perfect plans can go wrong, which is why it is always good to have a plan B. Having an alternate plan ensures you are prepared for any possibility with minimum impact on the enjoyment of your holiday.
Think about how to deal with air or train strikes that might effect your travel plans. What alternative arrangements could you put in place. What happens if there’s damage to your mobility equipment, or it’s lost in transit? What spares will you carry, or do you know of somewhere locally that could provide you with hire equipment? Who are you traveling with, or is available back at home, to call on if the worst happens and you need help with making alternate plans?
With a bit of foresight and sensible precautions you can prepare for most eventualities to prevent them turning into holiday disasters.
Preparing Your Travel Equipment
When going abroad you probably want to travel with mobility equipment, such as your wheelchair, that you know and are comfortable with it. However, there are some prior checks that you should conduct to ensure that your equipment is worthy of traveling.
Checking Your Mobility Equipment
Before you travel it is important that you have had your wheelchair or mobility scooter serviced to ensure that it will not break down whilst you are abroad. At RB Mobility we have a comprehensive list of checks that we conduct, performed by one of our experienced mobility technicians. This looks for problems including:
- Your battery charger
- Your motor and components
- Your tires and rims for damage
- Your brakes and suspension performance
- Your console functions
And many more important checks. These checks ensure that your equipment is in good working order and safe for travel for your peace of mind.
Spare Batteries and Chargers
It is prudent to ensure that you have a set of spare batteries, and a couple of chargers that you know for a fact are in full working order. This means that you won’t be stranded in your hotel or out and about whilst you are traveling the nearby area.
It is also important that you notify your travel agent and your airline that you are carrying a wheelchair/mobility scooter battery and its make. This is for security purposes as the battery may leak which is dangerous for the aircraft. It is also prudent to notify the attendant when you check in for your flight about the batteries you are carrying in case there has been a mis-communication.
Holidaying should be enjoyable in every sense of the word. If you would like any more information on servicing your wheelchair or mobility scooter prior to your holiday, then please don’t hesitate to phone us on 01923 710055.
Useful Information Links
- Traveling with pets
- Traveling by plane
- ABTA advice for accessible travel
- Tourism for All – Accessible Tourism