How to navigate holidays and travel when living with a physical disability

If you’re living with a physical disability, then you might find things especially tricky when you’re in an unfamiliar place. As such, many disabled people find themselves worried about the prospect of an impending holiday, and dreading certain awkward scenarios. Will the accommodation be able to – well, accommodate – your needs? Is that elevator going to be working when you get there, and will it come with ramps?

Let’s run through a few tips that’ll give you the best possible chance of an enjoyable experience when you’re on your holiday.

Make transport arrangements

Getting from place to place while you’re on holiday is critical. If you can do it easily and without stress, then you’re likely to have much more fun in between trips. If you have an adapted car to take with you, then you won’t be reliant on other people – or on public transport. If you’re travelling to remote, out-of-the-way locations, then bringing your own transport might be a near necessity. Check with the ferry operator if you’re going to be crossing water – don’t just assume you’ll be able to take the car along for the ride (though in most cases, it’s a fair assumption).

Look for disabled-friendly accommodation

Most hotels today, fortunately, take every possible step to cater to everyone. But sometimes, the physical structure of the building might make things difficult. Older hotels might suffer from narrow corridors and staircases. It’s worth calling ahead to get your doubts addressed, or to look at review websites. If possible, try to get the testimony of another visitor who’s disabled – they’ll be able to provide a perspective that’s honest and informed.

Call ahead

Tourist attractions might not provide all of the information you need up-front. This goes especially for smaller ones, which might not even have a website. The best approach is to phone ahead and ask the question, especially if you’re going to be going out of your way to pay a particular place a visit. Natural features, like waterfalls and hilltops, tend to be the most challenging places for disabled visitors – but you might be pleasantly surprised at how accessible they are with the right tour operator.

Bring the right equipment

If you drive halfway across the country only to realise that you’ve left some essential piece of equipment behind, then your holiday won’t get off to a great start. You’ll have to fork out for a temporary replacement, or, worse yet, turn the car around and go home. Compose a checklist and tick items off as you pack them. Reading the list aloud and pointing at the items will make it more difficult to make mistakes, here. It’s what Japanese train conductors do!

How to navigate holidays and travel when living with a physical disability