Travelling is something that I have always enjoyed doing. I love being able to see a new part of the world and explore somewhere unknown. I have mild Cerebral Palsy; chronic pain and I am registered as partially sighted; I believe this gives me a unique perspective in life. It also means that travelling abroad can be a little more complicated! Here are some of my top tips for travelling.
Research and Plan
At the end of the day, information is power. The more you know about the places you want to see the better and I believe this to be pivotal when you have a disability.
Many attractions will now list their access information on their website which is always a great place to start! It is also a possibility that they will give discounted tickets for companions or disabled people. I cannot recommend looking into this enough. When I went to Venice, wheelchair users got free travel on all the buses and there were great discounts into attractions. All I will say, is look at what they ask for in terms of ‘proof’ of disability. It might be that you need to show you are in receipt of a disability benefit, have a blue badge or use a wheelchair.
Similarly, looking on websites like TripAdvisor can give you so many reviews. This will include what the access is like.
Making sure you have the right paperwork, documents and information will ensure it is a smoother visit. The last thing you want to happen is not have the evidence you need. This could be the confirmation of access, wheelchair manuals that state it can be put on a plane or your trusty travel insurance. Here is a list of things you may want to take:
- List of prescription medication (GP letter)
- Travel insurance (compare the best cover for you)
- Proof of disability (PIP, DLA, blue badge, etc.)
- Electric wheelchair manual (proving it is safe to fly)
- Access information from attractions (discounts!)
I would always recommend having these on hand, but this can be easier than you think! It is always great to have paper copies yet saving all of this as PDF to phone can mean you always have quick access to the things you need. Additionally, you can find copies of your wheelchair manual in different languages which can make the return journey a smoother process.
Packing the Essentials
It’s always important to know you’ve packed enough underwear and sun cream, but I’ll leave those essentials to you. I’m talking about those vital disability essentials. At the end of the day, you want to make your travel as easy and comfortable as possible. Here are a few examples:
- A foldable walking stick can be great to pop in your bag.
- Taking those splints and medication you have for ‘just in case’ might be a good thing to take with you.
- Be sure to take extra medication in case of delays and be sure to take it in your hand luggage. Having your medication with you can mean it won’t get lost and you will be covered if there are delays.
Everyone has different needs, and this means we will class different things as essential but knowing you have covered various eventualities can give you peace of mind. I found this was all trial and error and knowing what works for you.
Like everything in life, things don’t always go to plan. Being flexible and allowing plans to change ensures you have the best time and your health is managed.
When you go on holiday, so does your disability. It is important to factor in time to be able to rest and recuperate along the way. I know I’m renowned for doing too much and suffering later! For some people, they may see a holiday to have some incredible experiences which often involve pushing yourself a little too far. For others, a holiday is there to relax – both options are okay! Travelling can be exhausting, and everyone needs to unwind.
I appreciate it can be difficult to predict what will happen and going with the flow isn’t always easy. However, your body will thank you if an afternoon recuperating is needed.
Planning a holiday if you have a disability can be stressful, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing. We are entitled to have fun and to see the world, even if additional planning is involved.
I hope your holiday goes smoothly and you have an incredible time. Travelling abroad with a disability is not impossible and I hope this guide has helped you plan a holiday you will remember for a lifetime.
If you’d like to see some of Chloe’s other work, then please visit her blog at www.chloetear.co.uk