Holidaying with a Disability
Well, a few things have happened over the past year, namely Brexit and Covid19 and we are still dealing with the changes to various travel documents and permissions. So keeping up to date with the changes in the country you want to visit is very important.
Many destinations are still not on the permitted list so we have limited options we can enjoy at present. For those who are caring for others or who have a disability themselves, arranging a holiday will involve extra planning to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.
There is plenty of information available and, provided you make your needs known, people will do their best to help to make your holiday a memorable experience.
You must check what is required and bear in mind, these requirements will change with the current situation so you will need to check regularly for any changes that can affect you. However, most countries will require a clear Covid 19 test before you travel and one before you can return as a minimum.
Getting out and about
There are so many choices of holiday destinations designed with the disabled tourist in mind.
In the UK many accommodation providers participate in National Accessible Scheme (NAS). It’s a voluntary scheme where accommodation providers within the holiday and tourism industry participate to accurately promote the facilities they offer to disabled guests or older visitors.
Participants aim to make their services more disabled and elderly friendly by identifying how accessible the accommodation is to those who have mobility difficulties or sensory impairment. If an accommodation provider displays the NAS symbol in their literature or signage, it shows that the business meets the scheme’s criteria for providing accessible facilities and services for disabled people.
If you take medication, even if it is occasionally, do ensure that you take enough with you plus a list of your current medication should you need medical help whilst you are away.
In addition to the amount you will need for your holiday, you should also pack up to another week’s worth to have sufficient to cover any delays such as strikes, breakdowns etc.
If you find yourself without medication or need a check-up, you could do any of the following:
- Visit a doctor – as a UK citizen you can visit any practice but you may find that some doctors are reluctant to prescribe painkillers or controlled drugs to patients they do not know.
- You could contact your own doctor and see if they can fax a prescription to a pharmacist so that they can dispense it for you.
- Pharmacists are also able to provide some medical advice so they may be able to help.
- If none of the other suggestions help and the medication is vital to your wellbeing, visit a local hospital and one of the doctors will be able to write out an emergency prescription.
Are you are planning to go to Europe? If so there are changes to the EHIC card.
The EHIC was an agreement between countries in the EU and European Economic Area.
It was no substitute for health insurance because travel insurance covers far more, including the costs incurred if treatment isn't free, cancellations, delays, repatriation and baggage loss or theft. But an EHIC gave you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.
You could only use hospitals and doctors signed up to the EHIC scheme. This was the situation until the end of December 2020.
Now there are two types of cover available for future arrangements for reciprocal healthcare with the EU.
- You are able to use your existing EHIC card if you have one and it will remain valid until its expiry date. When that happens you just apply for a new one and you can apply up to 6 months before it expires.
- Or you can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC which replaces the existing European Health Insurance Card which provides the same access to healthcare as before.
- Both GHIC and EHIC cards are free of charge.
For more information about the new arrangements, including a country-by-country rundown and how to apply for your card, visit the following page on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-health-insurance-card-ghic/
When making your travel arrangements ensure that the accommodation is suited to your disability.
Ensure that the accommodation owners can support your particular needs. For instance, if you have mobility problems, that doors and lifts are wide enough or, if it is needed, do they offer assistance for wheelchair users? Do they offer ground floor rooms? If you are blind, will they provide information and menus in Braille for you?
Some hotels have specially adapted accommodation for people who have disabilities and may offer the following facilities:
- Manual and electric bath hoists
- Manual and electric bed hoists
- Raised toilet seats
- Vibrating alarms
- Alarm systems in rooms
- Wheel-in showers
Remember, you may have a disability that is not obvious to other people so, to ensure your holiday matches your expectations, be prepared to explain your particular requirements when booking accommodation or dealing with a travel company.
When the stress of trying to make ends meet takes its toll, you may consider a holiday but this brings another worry... how to afford it? Many people have solved this problem by swopping their homes with friends who live abroad so both families can get their accommodation for free.
If you aren't in the favourable position of having friends abroad able to offer you free accommodation, you can still consider this idea by using websites such as HomeBase Holidays.
You will need to register with the sites. Some will do this for free but, be prepared to pay a membership fee with others. Once you have settled on your destination, don't forget your holiday travel insurance.
Planning a trip overseas?
You will be able to access specific advice on the country you plan to visit by accessing the travel section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 aims to end the discrimination that many disabled persons face and part 3 of the DDA relates to businesses that provide accommodation and other leisure services.
It sets out to ensure that disabled customers of these service providers are not unjustifiably treated in a less favourable manner than other customers for a reason related to their particular disability.
The DDA doesn’t cover travelling by air but does apply in the UK to services such as booking systems and airport services and facilities. To ensure things don’t go wrong, if you will need assistance at the airport or on the plane, make this clear when you book your flight.