5 Things to Consider When Planning an Accessible Trip
Planning a trip can be a fun activity filled with the anticipation of exploring, experiencing and relaxing. The world is packed with stunning vistas, charming towns, and fascinating cultures just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by everyone. However, there are a few things to do before booking and committing to an accessible trip.
Group 1 Automotive has researched five things that will help give your trip structure and cover key elements that will ensure everything will run smoothly. It can be easy to overlook things, like accessible transportation at your destination, travel insurance, and mobility equipment, but covering these bases before booking excursions, hotels, and flights will save you time and money.
One of the first things to do when travelling abroad is to book any transport ahead of the trip. It is important when travelling with accessibility needs to book transport ahead of time to avoid stress and save worrying about it while you are away. Researching the accessibility of the transportation within or at the destination is also important. Doing this before you book anything is key, nothing will slow a trip down faster than arriving and then having to arrange transportation from the airport or hotel to your next location. This step is one of the first as it can take some time to find the right accessible transportation and may require going down a few different roads to find the right fit. It’s also worthwhile thinking of arranging all travel you would be making throughout the trip, such as from the airport to your hotel, from the hotel to your activities and vice versa. Doing this research at the airport or as soon as you arrive can be frustrating, so it’s best to do it beforehand.
When researching accessible transportation, the first places people usually look are for taxi services and rental cars. These are good because you can typically use them through the duration of your trip, from the time you arrive to your departure. While these are convenient, as they are pretty standard, they can also get expensive. Finding a taxi service that offers wheelchair accessible vehicles may take longer waiting for each vehicle, whereas a rental vehicle requires the cost to park and navigate to each destination.
An option many people may overlook is public transport, like the bus or subway system. Often, these are already wheelchair accessible and depending on the location, may be easy to use to get around the city or visit popular locations.
When travelling abroad it is also essential to get special assistance through the airport. Every country in the world will provide essentially an escort through the airport to save queuing. You can usually book this within the airline themselves and once you arrive at the airport head to special assistance. You will then get taken to the front of the queue for check-in, through security, passport control, and then taken straight to the aircraft door.
It is also important for any wheelchair user to also check in the wheelchair into the luggage hold. Usually you are also allowed a second piece of equipment to take on the aircraft for example car seat, shower chair etc. however this is where special assistance comes in again. The biggest challenge with someone in a wheelchair is getting them and the luggage through the airport which is why special assistance is vital for anyone with accessibility needs while travelling through an airport. What’s important to note is that special assistance effectively ends the minute you get on the plane. They are responsible for getting you on and off the plane but that is where it ends. You normally get on before everyone else and get off last via a different vehicle to save going down steps, but once you are off the plane and through security you’ll need to have other transport arranged. However, you do get the VIP treatment though, whisked through any airport queues straight to the front, making you feel like a celebrity even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Getting Around and Accommodation
Another essential thing to do before you book an accessible trip is to consider if you need mobility equipment.This means thinking about what the potential trip will entail in terms of mobility and which equipment will be best for you to be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest. Wheelchair users may skip this step as their wheelchair is obviously coming along on the trip, but making a list of which equipment you’ll be travelling with from the start makes it easier to plan for accommodations, from a flight to a hotel and each place you visit.
If you are someone who uses a range of mobility equipment during the day, it may be easier to choose equipment that gives you the most mobility. An example of this can be if you use a walking stick at home you may want to consider renting a scooter to use on the trip so you have more energy to explore and it will be easier to navigate the airport as well as participate in activities throughout the trip. Knowing which equipment you’ll be travelling with from the start will make it easier to decode the size of your hotel room, how you’ll want to travel from your arrival point to a hotel or holiday home, and how accessible you’ll need your activities to be.
If staying in a hotel or apartment you also need to consider access to the room. Is it on the ground floor, are there any steps to the room? This is really important for anyone with mobility issues as abroad they often have steps to apartments and villas. A hotel that you would expect to be more mobility friendly might still have small steps and staircases. Always do a lot of research and questioning before booking anywhere as you can be caught out, plus in a resort it’s not always easy to change rooms especially during peak season.
When planning a large trip, it’s a good idea to consider purchasing travel insurance. This essential for wheelchair users as travel insurance will help you recover costs if anything were to happen while traveling. It’s important to make sure the travel insurance you’re purchasing covers pre-existing conditions, so if anything medical were to happen on your trip, it could be covered.
Travel insurance is important because it can cover a range of things, from lost or damaged luggage to delayed or cancelled flights and medical emergencies. Purchasing travel insurance may seem like an extra expense, especially if you don’t travel frequently, but any trip that has you organising flights, excursions, and hotels is worth the extra pennies. It can also be useful for things like wheelchair damage, flight delays, and trip cancellations which can be covered depending on the type of travel insurance you purchase.
For anyone travelling with a companion it may also be necessary to arange travel plans for a caregiver. If the caregiver is a family member then there is no need for separate travel plans, but if they are not a family member then it is important to make sure the caregiver can travel with you during the trip you are planning. Checking this before you book your trip will save you time and money, as you will need to book tickets and reservations with their name.
It is also important to check with a caregiver before booking because often caregivers can receive discounted tickets or seats, and this booking process may be different than the traditional options available online. Doing research into caregiver rates, along with checking in with your primary and secondary caregiver, will help you save money and coordinate your tip so everyone can travel together.
If these steps feel a bit overwhelming, working with a travel agent may be a great option. You can work with a travel agent that specialises in accessible destinations and trips, which will give you someone to answer any questions you may have, work on a plan, and check all these necessary steps off your to do list before booking your trip. This is also a good idea if you’re trying to organise a wheelchair accessible trip, as a travel agent that offers wheelchair accessible trips will have tips and go-to contacts for transportation, activities, and even destinations.
Many people go the traditional trip planning route to choose a destination, find things to do there, then book flights and other transportation, but working with a travel agency can often provide activities beyond your initial research or may have more specific insight into the accessibility of the destination you’re planning to visit. Ultimately, working with a travel agent can help you ensure your trip is accessible and offer unique experiences you may have missed if you planned the trip on your own.
Taking the time to do these five things before booking an accessible trip will save you time, money and stress in the long run. Having the correct mobility equipment, accessible transport, caregiver, and travel insurance in place will help you decide if you would rather work with a travel agent, or tackle it together.
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