Tips on taking an accessible holiday

29 April 2016 ( 12 June 2017 )

The world of travel should be open to everyone, regardless of age or whether you are living with a disability. However, travellers with wheelchairs, limited mobility or an alternative disability can face a whole host of challenges when planning their dream holiday. But that certainly doesn't mean it's impossible.



Here are five tops tips to help streamline your trip in advance:

1. Choose your destination wisely

First and foremost, consider the type of holiday you are after as well as your destination of choice very carefully. Research the area you are interested in to find out if the attractions you are keen to explore are accessible, whether adapted cars can be hired if necessary and whether taxis are available.

It is also a good idea to check the websites of any airports you will pass through – departure, arrival and any connections – to ensure you are aware of their facilities and services. Call or email for additional information if you require it – do not take anything for granted.

If you book a Saga Holiday, you can be safe in the knowledge that our Customer Care team will do the utmost to meet your additional needs, such as reduced mobility or visual impairment. Speak to one of our advisors on 0800 373 034 to discuss your individual requirements.

2. Discuss your needs with your airline

Be very clear about your requirements at the time of booking your tickets and if you are a wheelchair user, make a note of your measurements and weight so that you can answer any questions with ease.

Check that the aircraft is suitably equipped to meet your requirements – i.e. with special seating, moveable armrests and/or accessible toilets – and book any additional support you might need at the airport in advance. If you are planning a disabled holiday in Europe, you are entitled to assistance at airports (and tipping is not permitted) but be aware that in other countries such as the US tipping is considered common courtesy.

Be sure to get any confirmation of support in writing so that you can print it out and carry it with you on your journey.

3. Prepare for the airport

As any seasoned traveller knows, a trip can involve a lot of waiting around. Your gate might be situated a fair old trek from vending machines or food courts so bring your own snacks and keep your eye out for the closest place to pick up water after passing through the security checks.

It might be useful to print out a map of the airport in advance so you can familiarise yourself with where you need to go. Failing that, it might be worth booking an airport lounge in advance. Reputed companies, such as Holiday Extras, will be able to advise what facilities are available to you at airport lounges from your departure airport. Quote Saga when you book and you'll even save an extra 10%. 

Related: Top 5 reasons to book an airport lounge

4. Purchase disability insurance

Although nobody likes to think about things going wrong on their holiday, unfortunate events can and do arise. It pays to be safe so be sure to purchase the correct insurance for your disabled holiday. The right plan will give you peace of mind that you won't be out of pocket should you require any medical assistance on your trip. Ensure you are covered for any damage caused to your wheelchair too.

Saga Travel Insurance will cover you for many pre-existing medical conditions, so you can relax knowing you're covered for up to £10 million emergency medical treatment. Get a quote online...

5. Make an accommodation checklist

Whether it is a hotel, self-catered cottage, villa or campsite you are hoping to book, make a checklist of your requirements and call ahead to be sure it is suitable and that the rooms and social areas are properly accessible. 

Some self-catering holiday websites, such as cottages.com allow you to filter your search results according to property accessibility features - such as ground floor facilities, bedroom and wet room. It might be an idea to phone to make your booking so you can ask any further questions about the holiday property. Again, always obtain written confirmation your requests have been recorded.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.