Planning a holiday can be both exciting and stressful, but it’s fair to say that those suffering with a disabling injury may encounter more difficulties than most when preparing their next trip abroad – from arranging the necessary travel to and from the destination, to finding suitable accommodation.
However, there are many ways in which people with serious injuries can ensure their holiday accommodation is enjoyable.
Below, Thompsons Solicitors’ serious injury lawyers highlight some of the options available and what you can do to make your trip as hassle-free and fun as possible.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TRAVELLING ABROAD WITH A DISABLING SERIOUS INJURY
1. I am travelling with someone who has a physical injury or a disabling condition. What do I need to do differently?
The majority of UK hotels and accommodation will have facilities suitable for people with a range of disabilities, such as adapted rooms, wheelchair ramps and accessible toilet facilities.
However, there are exceptions to the expected standards in the UK, and even more disparity when travelling abroad, where accessibility laws may differ. The quality of facilities may vary depending on where you are staying. It’s often a good idea to contact your tour or accommodation provider before you make your booking, to clarify in writing that your needs, or those of your family member, can be met. This should help ensure there are no unwanted surprises upon check-in.
You should also try to get assurances from your tour provider that there will be accessible transport to, and from, your destination, as well as areas you will need to access easily – such as a hotel lobby, lifts and assistance when boarding the aircraft. They might also have advice on accessible local tourist attractions, restaurants or transport options that they can share with you.
Charities such as Tourism For All provide in-depth information on disabled-friendly locations in the UK and accessible travel further afield.
2. I have a physical disability, should I use a tour to plan my trip?
The choice is yours. If you, or someone you are planning to travel with, have a physical disability and are concerned that the country you are visiting may not have suitable facilities, it may be beneficial to speak to a tour operator. As a third party, they can organise the trip on your behalf and advise you on the best locations, resorts, hotels and transport providers to suit your needs. Some tour operators may also be able to provide disability equipment, such as hoists, to help you on your holiday.
Of course, tour operators come at an extra cost, so some people may prefer to book directly.
3. What should I consider when flying with a serious injury or a disability?
If you or someone you are travelling with has a serious physical injury or disability, and may need help during a flight, or while boarding and disembarking an aircraft, you should contact the airline at least 48 hours in advance to let them know.
In European airports, those who have a learning, sensory or physical disability have the right to help at points of access, such as car parks, entrances and toilets, as well as assistance at check-in. This extends to both physical help (moving the person) but also any additional support they or you may need (e.g. filling in forms and providing details).
If you have your own wheelchair that you would like to take abroad with you, it’s unlikely that you will be able to take it into the passenger cabin. Instead, the airline staff will store it in the hold of the plane, and provide alternative assistance to help you board and disembark the aircraft, as well as travel around the airport while you await your flight. This can be discussed ahead of your flight with your tour operator.
For more information, visit the UK Government’s website.
4. Is there anything else I should be aware of before travelling abroad?
We advise that everyone travelling abroad applies for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which provides access to free or reduced-cost medical treatment. This can cover all treatments in the European Economic Area and Switzerland until you return home. To apply for an EHIC call 0300 330 1350, and for enquiries, its 0191 218 1999.
We also recommend making a note of local emergency service contact numbers before travelling.
Other important contacts to have while on holiday include the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, which provides important details about a country’s customs, culture and more (contactable via 020 7008 1500) and the Civil Aviation Authority, which details responsibilities for passengers with varying disability. Its contact number is 02073 797311.