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Frequently Asked Questions to ask before travelling with limited mobility

22nd April 2024

If you are a wheelchair user or have limited mobility, one of the most important things you need to do when booking a holiday is ask many questions.

It is best to check that your exact requirements will be met when you go on holiday abroad or in the UK, and for many, it is great if you can mentally map out your journey and consider all the potential challenges you may face.

With these potential challenges in mind, you can quiz your tour operator and ask the right questions to ensure your needs will be met. Whilst you are in the research stage of booking your holiday, you might find it useful to write down your queries and the answers you are given so you can compare the different holiday firms.

Travel for those with limited mobility might be daunting, but this guide provides answers to the most frequently asked questions.

General travel FAQs

Are there companies that specialise in holidays for travellers with limited mobility?

There are a number of holiday booking sites for travellers with disabilities, and below are some popular sites that many people use:

  • Limitless Travel - Founded by people with disabilities, they offer guided holidays for wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility. The company can arrange accessible transportation, wheelchair-accessible hotels, and more.
  • Hands On Travel - For travellers in the deaf or hard-of-hearing community, Hands On Travel are one of the best tour operators. Their tours communicate in sign language 100 per cent of the time.
  • Disabled Accessible Travel - If you are travelling in Europe as a person with a disability and need assistance with booking wheelchair-accessible transportation or tours, Disabled Accessible Travel can help.

Do seniors in the UK need to pay travel insurance?

Yes. Seniors still need travel insurance when they go on holiday to cover potential medical emergencies abroad or cancellation costs.

ALSO READ: Travel habits of the older generation

Does travel insurance cover the cost of a wheelchair?

Every policy is different, so you will need to double-check with your travel insurance company. However, there are many policies that provide travel cover for your mobility aids while you are away.

Age Co offers specialist travel insurance for older people as well as insurance for people who are going on holiday with a pre-exisiting medical condition.

How do you travel with a wheelchair?

Just because you are a wheelchair user doesn’t mean you cannot travel. Many wheelchair users travel around the world, and they do this by going with a companion and doing lots of research about the destination they intend to visit. You can talk to other wheelchair users to determine if a destination is accessible before you book a trip. Curb Free With Cory Lee is a wheelchair user, and he documents his travels around the world.

ALSO READ: Travelling the world by wheelchair

What is the best travel wheelchair?

This ultimately depends on your needs, but the best travel wheelchairs usually have the following features:

  • Lightweight
  • Foldable
  • Comfortable
  • Easy-to-use
  • Durable

Can a carer travel free with a disabled person?

All wheelchair and mobility scooter users travel free on buses and trams in the UK, but companions have to pay for their travel. If you plan to go abroad, your companion will also have to pay for their travel, whether you are travelling via plane or going on a cruise.

Can I hire a car if I have limited mobility?

Yes, you can hire a car in the UK and other countries if you have limited mobility. It is best to check with the car hire firm you are booking the car through to make sure that the model you will be driving is suitable for your needs.

ALSO READ: What to pack when travelling in later life

Questions to ask if you are travelling in the UK

What is the most accessible holiday destination in the UK?

A recent study, which compared all of the UK’s cities and ranked them based on different accessibility factors, found that the three most accessible cities were Wells, Chichester, and Ely.

ALSO READ: The most accessible cities in the UK

How do I get around London with limited mobility?

If you are going on a staycation to the capital, you might be wondering how easy it is to get around London if you have limited mobility.

The London Underground network offers accessible facilities and step-free access at many locations, but not all tube stations are fully accessible. You can check the Transport for London (TfL) journey planner before you travel.

There are 60 London Overground stations, and all stations along the Elizabeth Line offer step-free access as well as other accessible travel features, such as wheelchair ramps, wide-access doors and more. To find out more about the accessibility of London’s train stations, you can check the National Rail Enquiries’ passenger assistance information website.

All London buses are low-floor vehicles, and bus travel is free for wheelchair users. The buses have room for at least one person using a wheelchair.

The riverboat services in London are also accessible. All of London's piers are wheelchair accessible, except for Cadogan Pier. All the river buses have step-free access, and larger riverboats have wheelchair spaces.

The London trams offer step-free access, and each tram has two dedicated spaces for wheelchairs. Trams also have priority seats for older adults, people with disabilities and those travelling with small children in each section of the carriage.

The iconic London black cabs are all wheelchair accessible, and most taxis have additional accessibility features for travellers, including wheelchair ramps, an intermediate step, swivel seats, induction loops and an intercom system.

Where can I use my disabled bus pass in England?

You can get a bus pass for free travel if you’re disabled and passes from councils in England can be used anywhere in England.

What is the disabled holiday grant in the UK?

Disabled holiday grants are sums of money that are not required to be repaid, and they are typically given to those who are most in need.

There are several organisations in the UK that can provide holiday grants for disabled adults, and you’ll have to apply to see if you are eligible to receive one.

Grants for disabled people are often provided by charities and trusts.

ALSO READ: The best discounts for over 60s in the UK

Questions to ask if you are travelling internationally

Where are the best places to travel with limited mobility?

Whilst there is still plenty to do to make holidays more accessible for people with limited mobility, the rise in awareness of different disabilities and the technology that is available has meant that the world is becoming more inclusive.

Some of the most accessible destinations in the world are:

  • Berlin, Germany
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Playa del Carmen, Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • Canary Islands
  • Barbados
  • Sicily

ALSO READ: Best holiday destinations for people with limited mobility

Who qualifies for special assistance at an airport?

When you are travelling by air, and you are a passenger with a disability or reduced mobility, you are legally entitled to support, commonly known as 'Special Assistance'.

This a free service, and it applies if you fly on any airline from a UK airport, if you fly on an EU or UK-registered airline to a UK airport, or if you fly from outside of the UK or EU to the EU on a UK carrier.

Can people in wheelchairs travel on planes?

Wheelchair users can travel on planes. If you're unable to walk unaided, the passenger assistance team will transfer you to an "aisle chair" to get you onto the plane.

You cannot take your own wheelchair into the passenger cabin of a plane, but it will be stored in the hold.

ALSO READ: Airport advice for older people

How do I tell my airline I need a wheelchair?

If you have limited mobility or you are a wheelchair user, you should make any reservations you need as early as possible and advise the airline what type of assistance you will need. For example, you should indicate whether you need wheelchair assistance or guided assistance.

When you book your holiday, you should reserve a wheelchair from the airport or inform your airline that you have a wheelchair, or you will need a wheelchair. If you travel with a battery-powered wheelchair, you must arrive at the airport one hour prior to the normal check-in time.

You can confirm your accessibility needs with your airline via their customer service team, usually over the phone or via email.

Do airlines charge extra for wheelchairs?

If you have a disability, you can bring along up to two pieces of mobility equipment at no extra cost when travelling on a plane, and these items won't be included in your baggage allowance.

Additionally, many airports provide wheelchair rental for free to help you get around the airport, and it is also important to call ahead if you will require assistance getting on and off the plane; this is usually advised to do at least 48-prior to your arrival, but you should always check the airport's website.

Where do people with wheelchairs or those who have limited mobility sit on a plane?

Many airlines will not have allocated seating for disabled passengers, so when you book your seats, you should think about what the most comfortable seat for your needs would be. Opting for a window seat can minimise the inconvenience of fellow passengers needing to manoeuvre around you. However, if mobility is severely limited, an aisle seat may be more suitable.

For those requiring assistance with transferring from the wheelchair to the seat, an aisle seat is preferable. Nonetheless, the optimal choice for wheelchair users is bulkhead seating. These seats typically offer enhanced accessibility and ample legroom, facilitating easier movement in and out of the wheelchair. To secure bulkhead seating, it's advisable to notify your airline promptly after booking, informing them of your specific needs.

Where is the best place in Spain for disabled people/those with limited mobility?

Spain offers several accessible destinations for travellers with disabilities or limited mobility. Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville boast accessible tourist attractions and public transportation systems, while Valencia and Costa del Sol provide accessible beaches and accommodations.

Tenerife offers accessible beaches and attractions like Siam Park, and Granada has improved accessibility in hotels and restaurants. These destinations prioritise accessibility, ensuring all visitors can enjoy their travel experiences.

ALSO READ: What is the best country to live in for older people?

Do carers fly for free?

The provision of free tickets for accompanying caregivers largely depends on the airline's policy. While some airlines may offer discounted tickets for caregivers, this is subject to the specific policies of each airline, so it is worth contacting the airline prior to booking or checking the information on their website.

Can I book a specially adapted taxi to the airport?

If you require special assistance in the form of a wheelchair-friendly taxi to get you to the airport, you can do this by contacting your local taxi company. The majority of taxi companies will have at least one vehicle, which will be able to accommodate a wheelchair or be more comfortable for those who require a bit of extra help.

Is there assistance at the airport car park for those with limited mobility?

If you require assistance from the airport car park, you can, in most cases, book this in advance through your airline at the time of booking. However, if there is no option, you should speak to the airline, airport, or travel agent you booked your trip with to make them aware of your requirements.

Are there accessible excursions available?

This will depend on which company you have booked the holiday with and where you are going. However, if you do have limited mobility, you can speak with your holiday provider to see which excursions are available.

ALSO READ: ChatGPT's top holiday destinations for over 60s

Questions to ask about your accommodation

Are cruise ships accessible?

The majority of cruise ships will be accessible for those who are in a wheelchair or have limited mobility. Cruise ships will have special features to help people with disabilities enjoy their trip, which will include cabins with wider doors and grab bars in the bathrooms to make them easier to use, as well as lifts to manoeuvre between floors.

What are the accessible cabins on cruise ships like?

Accessible cabins on cruise ships are designed with various features to accommodate passengers with disabilities. These cabins typically have wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, as well as grab bars in the bathrooms for added stability.

Additionally, they may include lower countertops and shelves for easier access, as well as emergency call buttons for assistance. Overall, accessible cabins aim to provide a comfortable and convenient experience for passengers with diverse mobility needs.

Are there accessible hotel rooms?

Many hotels offer accessible rooms designed to accommodate guests with disabilities. These rooms typically feature features such as wider doorways, grab bars in bathrooms, roll-in showers, lowered countertops, and other amenities to ensure a comfortable stay for individuals with diverse needs.

Additionally, some hotels may provide accessibility aids such as ramps, elevators with Braille signage, and accessible parking spaces to further enhance the experience for guests with disabilities. It's always a good idea to inquire about specific accessibility features when booking a hotel room to ensure it meets your needs.

Will accommodations have ramps for wheelchairs?

Most accommodations, including hotels, resorts, and public buildings, are equipped with ramps specifically designed to accommodate wheelchair users. These ramps provide easier access to entrances and facilities for individuals with mobility challenges, ensuring that they can navigate the space comfortably and safely. Additionally, ramps are often required by accessibility regulations to ensure that buildings are inclusive and accessible to all individuals, regardless of their mobility needs.

Can I hire a wheelchair, and is there a cost involved?

Some accommodations will have wheelchairs to hire, and most probably for a fee. It is advisable to check the accessibility section of the accommodation website to see if this is something that they offer.

Are there accessible leisure facilities?

The majority of accommodations should have accessible facilities such as access to a swimming pool and any other amenities onsite. However, it is best to get in contact with the accommodation to check this or look at the accessibility section of their website.

ALSO READ: What is the most accessible attraction in the UK?

Hopefully, these frequently asked questions for those travelling with limited mobility will help you plan a holiday. This guide was brought to you by Handicare, working with Age Co, who provide a range of home mobility products such as stair lifts, homelifts and bathing solutions. For more information about how they can help make your home more accessible, please get in touch.

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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.