Belfast Telegraph

Ten top tips for travelling with health and mobility issues

If you have health or mobility issues, or if you travel with someone who does, you’ll know that ‘carefree’ holidays are invariably the result of careful advance planning!

Here are our top tips to help that planning process:

1. Worrying about mobility or accessibility should be the last thing on your mind when you’re on hols, so don’t just rock up at your local travel agency. Make an appointment so that you have sufficient time to talk about your holiday plans and your individual requirements with a well-qualified and experienced travel professional.

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Chat through your concerns and, if you need a particular service or facility, your travel agent can check that it's available before you book.

2. ABTA has a great online checklist for disabled and less mobile passengers. If you have a disability or a medical condition requiring special transport, accommodation or dietary arrangements, you can complete the checklist at the time you make your booking to give to your travel agent or tour operator, or ask your travel organiser to do so on your behalf.

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3. Make it easy on yourself. Extras such as private transfers can take the pressure off and may be more affordable than you think. At your destination you may also be able to hire some useful aids (check in advance!). Even if you don’t usually need one at home, renting a scooter or wheelchair may be useful when your stamina is flagging faster than your appetite for exploring.

4. You may want to mention your travel plans to your doctor, if only to be sure that you’ll have an advance supply of any medication you may need. Keep a few days’ supply of medication in your hand luggage as you travel in case of delays or (ultimate horror!) your baggage going missing.

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5. Happy holidays aren’t just about ‘go big or go home’. If the challenges of international travel push you too far out of your comfort zone, consider breaks in the British Isles. There are fantastic choices on offer and, with no language barrier, it’s rather easier to do your research.

6. One great option for no-fuss long distance travel is cruising. Many cruise lines pride themselves on the accessibility of their fleet, plus substantially sized vessels have doctors on board which offers great reassurance and practical assistance. These days some ships even provide dialysis.

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Be wary however as services and accessibility vary considerably, even amongst ships within the same cruise line. Ports of call may vary in suitability, too. If cruising looks like it may float your boat, chat it over with your trusted travel agent.

7. Invest in good travel insurance. You may hope never to have to claim, but it’s good to know that you can access help or compensation should the need arise.

8. Be sure to inform your airline at least 48 hours prior to your airport arrival if you’ll need assistance. This ensures you are legally guaranteed help throughout your flight.

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9. Don’t make do, put up with rubbish service or facilities which fall short of those which you have been promised. Few of us like to complain but, if you don’t tell people what’s wrong, how on earth can they fix it? A polite, informal and timely complaint can often generate the right response and you can go on to really enjoy the holiday that’s been so long in the planning!

10. Pack your patience. Even the best planned trips can go off the rails for a host of reasons, but going off piste can have its compensations too and sometimes the unexpected encounters and unforeseen delays can spark the most memorable encounters. Bon Voyage!

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