We don’t know of anyone who would turn down a holiday. But for some of us, booking a trip can be a seriously stressful, especially when sourcing and planning an accessible holiday to meet special requirements, putting us off it entirely. So, to make it easier, we’ve spoken to Jeremy Cooper from Enable Holidays about his top 10 tips for a hassle-free holiday.
1. What type of holiday do you want?
Let’s face it, any holiday is a considerable cost, so it’s important you spend your money on the right kind of holiday to suit you. Think about it carefully. Are you looking for a relaxing beach holiday, an exotic cruise or a sight-seeing city trip? Or maybe you want to go to extremes by swimming with dolphins, exploring ancient artefacts or venturing on an animal safari? Decide on this first before you plan the details.
2. Where to and how much?
For many of us, the starting point has to be where we’d like to go and how much we can afford to spend. The internet brings the world into our living room, and provides us with a quick and exciting way to discover holiday destinations.
Therefore, make it your first port of call for checking up on those sought-after places, from Bognor Regis to Barbados, and Fort William to Fort Lauderdale (and every place in between). Draw up your wish list. It really doesn’t matter how many places are jotted down, in fact, the more choices you have the better. It will make your final decision easier, especially if your top two or three choices prove to be unsuitable further down the line.
3. Think about the travel time
You are the best judge for deciding the maximum travel time you’d be comfortable with. If you’re planning a holiday in the UK, this will be determined by the car, coach or rail journey, whilst flight times and airport transfers need to be taken into account when venturing abroad.
If, however, a long flight cannot be avoided – and you feel capable of enduring it – you need to ensure it’s as convenient and comfortable for you as possible. To ensure you can really enjoy your time away you want to arrive in good condition.
4. Size it all up
If you’re a wheelchair user, the planning stage is the best time to make sure you have detailed measurements of your chair. It is, after all, your main mode of transport, which means you’ll need it to get through the doors, entrances and lifts around your accommodation.
5. What type of accommodation do you want?
Your next task is to decide on your preferred type of accommodation. Here again, there are many options to choose from. Overseas you’ll find self-catering apartments, private villas, hotels (bed & breakfast, half board, full board), holiday complexes, cruise ships – and much, much more.
In the UK, you can opt for hotels, self-catering cottages, static caravans, guest houses, lodges, holiday parks, boats… and even glamping, to name just a few. Specialist holiday homes, offering full care services for rest and recuperation, are also available. Your accommodation will be your home for several days, so make sure it’s a good fit.
It’s also important to consider how near you’d like or need your accommodation to be to facilities, shops, attractions etc, and any extra special requirements for the accommodation that you need to take into consideration.
6. Make sure the facilities to meet your needs
Selecting your preferred choice of accommodation may be a relatively straight-forward process. But ensuring it has the adaptations and the special facilities you need to make your holiday a barrier-free one is another story.
Far too many holiday properties advertise ‘fully adapted facilities’ – but the reality is sadly anything but. Fully adapted facilities involve a lot more than just the odd ramp here and a grab rail there. And this is where you really need some sort of assurance that your expectations will be met.
By calling upon the services of a specialist accessible holidays tour operator, you can obtain detailed information on the standards of adaptations and facilities available in a wide choice of properties and worldwide destinations.
7. Using an accessible tour operator – make sure they’re protected
If you do decide to go with an accessible tour operator or travel agent, please check they are members of ABTA (the travel association) and ATOL (the aviation licencing body) for your financial security and peace of mind.
8. Get someone else to do the hard work
The other benefit of an accessible holiday specialist is that they can do the work on your behalf, thus saving you hours of emailing and numerous phone calls.
Provide them with your wish list of destinations and ask for their advice. Explain your level of mobility and confirm any special requirements. They should also be able to provide you with details on adapted transfers, special excursions, the hire of mobility equipment, the provision of pool hoists and the answers to dozens of other questions. Equally important, they should be able to make advanced special arrangements for you at the airport and on board the plane.
9. Have a little bit of patience
In most cases, your holiday will be a tailor-made one to meet you specific needs, where lots of different elements will be brought together in one package. As such, it may take a while for your travel adviser to get back to you with a complete quotation.
Just make sure they let you know what day/time they’ll be getting back to you. If they give you the quote by calling you, it’s also a good idea to request details to be sent by email so you have the full details in writing.
10. Make sure you’re fully covered
In addition to ensuring your holiday agent is protected by ABTA and ATOL, please, please ensure you have adequate insurance cover for medical emergencies, travel and baggage delay, damage to and loss of wheelchairs, lost valuables, and much more.
And last, but certainly not least, never leave it to the last minute before arranging passports, EHIC cards and visas!
For more details on Enable Holidays, please visit www.enableholidays.com
By Jeremy Cooper
Visit our travel section for more tips and guides to accessible holidays across the world.