Travel & Holidays

Disabled holidays: your travel questions answered

To help make your disabled holidays that little bit easier, we’ve teamed up with accessible travel expert and wheelchair user Carrie-Ann Lightley from Tourism for All. This year we’re opening up her regular articles to you, so you can get your travel questions answered, no matter how big or small. This week, ceiling hoists, access to planes and travelling to Rome.

How can we persuade Scottish hotels to install a ceiling hoist in one of their rooms? Currently, the only one to provide a hoist is the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow. That’s simply not good enough!!! Steve Catlin from the Ceiling Hoist Users Club has contacted UK hotels, but I think more needs to be done to help them see the value.

Thanks, Jan

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The lack of ceiling track hoists in holiday accommodation is one of the biggest frustrations for many of the disabled people I speak to. At Tourism for All, we find that there are more and more options for hoists in self-catering accommodation, so it would be worth looking into that until hotels up their game. We can also arrange hire and delivery of mobile hoists to holiday accommodation.

In terms of hotels improving, the Inclusive Hotels Network (IHN) is in the process of producing a guide about hoists for hotels. It is near completion, and will be free to download from the Centre For Accessible Environments website. Once it’s ready, it might be worth emailing this to any hotels you come across that don’t have a hoist. I would also recommend following @InclusiveHotels on Twitter to keep up to date with any developments.

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My main issue with holidays is access onto planes. After being uncomfortably manhandled into a broken aisle chair last time I travelled, I’ve been put off planes. Why don’t more airlines use hoists in aisles? I know they exist, but who uses them? And will they have one at the other end? Surely airport staff should not be lifting passengers on health and safety grounds anyway?

Thanks, Sandra

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Manual transfers on planes can be dangerous and undignified. Currently there are five airports in the UK, and many worldwide, that now have Eagle Passenger Lifters. The lifter should be requested in advance, and care should be taken to ensure that the correct plane seats have been reserved. You can search for locations where Eagle Passenger Lifers are on the Haycomp website.

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I’ve always wondered how it works with wheelchairs users on planes, for example getting through the metal detectors, getting on and off the plane, toilet facilities on board etc.

Thanks, Amiee

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has a passport-sized guide for disabled people on using planes. It’s aimed at making journeys by air as smooth and trouble free as possible. The leaflet outlines what services disabled people, people with reduced mobility and their families can expect from airlines, travel companies and airports, as well as what facilities travel organisations are legally obliged to provide.

The guide contains 15 top tips for a smooth journey, covering areas such as assistance dogs, accessibility, getting mobility and other essential equipment on board, and seating arrangements. It can be downloaded from the EHRC website.

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I really want to go to Rome with my family (partner and 3 teenagers) as we all love ruins and sun, but I use a powerchair. Can you give me some ideas and tips on how to manage seeing all the sights and finding accessible accommodation?

Thanks, Tamara

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I had a short break in Rome in 2015 and fell in love with the city! I’ll be honest and say that Rome isn’t an easy city for someone with mobility requirements to visit, but it’s worth the effort. Ancient Rome has an abundance of cobbled streets, so prepare for a bumpy ride with beautiful sights everywhere you look, vibrant culture and magnificent food.

You can read about my trip on Disability Horizons – Disability and travel: navigating Rome.

Ask us your travel questions

I want to hear about your travel plans, or even the holiday dreams you’ve been thinking about for years? Is there an ultimate destination you’d like to go to, either somewhere exotic or close to home? Or maybe you’d just like to know about the basic aspects of travelling with a disability, such as hiring equipment and booking transport? I’d love to help and advise you, after all, accessible travel is all about arming yourself with the right information and being able to make the choice for you.

So, send your questions in to or get in touch on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll be featuring your question, along with our answer, in our new series of articles. Unfortunately, we may not be able to answer everyone, but we’ll do our best to come back to you with some information.

I can’t wait to hear from you and help you turn your travel dreams into a reality!

By Carrie-Ann

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Carrie-Ann Lightley

I am a travel blogger, a freelance travel writer, and I also head up the marketing team for the national disability organisation AccessAble. Through my blog I aim to encourage and inspire disabled people to travel to, explore and discover new places. I was named as one of the top 100 most influential disabled people in the UK, on the Shaw Trust #DisabilityPowerList100. 
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