Sunday, October 2, 2022
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Travelling with a disability? — No problem!

Having a disability meant being stuck at home and not being able to live life to the fullest. Just like times have changed, people’s mindsets have too. Travelling with a disability is no longer an ‘if only.’ 

 

Most countries have accessibility for disabled tourists. From special accomodations at hotels to wheelchair access and guide dogs at airports and airlines. There’s no doubt travelling with a disability comes with its fair share of challenges but what doesn’t? 

 

Accessible travel is more popular than ever and with proper planning you can enjoy family vacations. Here is a checklist to tick off while planning your trip.  

  • Doctor consultation —Before making any reservations, consult your doctor. A green light from your doctor is key to enjoying a stress free holiday and it’s always a plus to keep your healthcare provider in the loop. 


  • Prepare methodically — Gone are the days of simply booking flights and accommodation. Always do your research. Do you need facemasks, any medical clearances, travel restrictions, weather, political climate, Covid-19 cases. Be on top of everything while planning your trip to avoid unexpected hiccups along the way, choose an appropriate destination. 


  • Plan every detail in advance — Whether you’re travelling with someone with a disability or you are the person with a disability, the challenges of travel planning remain the same. So get a headstart on your planning. Visas may take time and flights are always cheaper if you plan ahead of time. This way, you have time to do research on accessibility and be prepared. 

 

  • Research your destination —First and foremost, choose a place that suits your needs and requirements. There are a select few destinations that aren’t disability friendly so navigate accordingly, the health checks, the vaccinations accepted and the hows and whys of managing your health need to be researched. Next, find a good location and hotel that make it easy and comfortable with maximum ammenities for disabled guests. Are there entertainment options for people with a disability like wheelchair access to gyms and pools or restaurants? 

  • Transportation — Important questions: How will I get there? How will I travel once I am there? What airline will you fly? Do these modes of transportation: vehicles, trains, cruise liners meet your requirements? Get as much confirmation as you can in writing to avoid future impairments. 


  • Travel insurance — If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. It’s as simple as that. Be sure to declare your disability when you apply for travel insurance otherwise your insurer may deny any claims. A piece of advice; choose travel insurance that includes medical evacuation (medevac), in case of an emergency. 


  • Cold calling — Don’t be fooled by the glitz and glamour of a website. Nothing beats talking to a person over the phone to get all the information you need and to get all your questions answered. Call ahead before you pay for any service or accommodation. 


  • Travel agents — You could consider using a travel agency that specialises in organising holidays for people with disabilities. With decades of experience, they will know the ins and outs of what you will actually need and what does not hold importance. A knowledgeable travel agent can craft an itinerary that works well for you and even advise you on whether or not a hotel is fully accessible and even arrange transportation in a less accessible location. They have it together, I strongly recommend this path.


  • Take advantage of discounts —  Who doesn’t love discounts? Many tourist spots offer special discounts for people with a disability. Be sure to avail of these privileges while on vacation. 


  • Jet lag —You don’t know how lucky you are if you aren’t a victim of jet lag. Get plenty of rest before your travel dates. Do not start your trip sleep deprived. Adjust your sleep schedule if you can and sleep on the plane ride if possible. Stay hydrated, make sure you have plenty of water at all stages of your journey.


  • Travel sickness — Be aware of travel sickness. It can ruin a holiday in a split second. Try to avoid long journeys if you are prone to motion sickness and get as much fresh air as possible. If insects love you, do not forget to pack tons of repellent and apply it frequently. That will be a life saver. Long hot days in the sun can affect you after a point, to avoid sunstroke or exhaustion, stay hydrated, keep yourself cool and do not overdo it, listen to your body. 

 

  • Don’t forget the needs of the caregiver — If you have someone accompanying you on your trip, do not forget to treat them with respect. Their job is definitely a hard one. Dont overwork your caregiver and let them get enough RnR (rest and relaxation)

 

Disability is just a word if you have the mindset to explore the beautiful world. Dont let it hold you back. 

You can do everything and anything with the right attitude and good organising skills. 

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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