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Travel Safety For The Disabled

Sunday, 17 February 2013
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5 Steps to Taking Control on the move

Travel for the disabled need not be a highly impossible or challenging task. Disabilities such as vision/ hearing/ speech impairment, and mobility difficulties may make many disabled travellers fear travel. But, disabled travellers can enjoy their travel and make it an enriching experience.

Realization that challenges facing disabled travellers are not insurmountable is the first step in the right direction. Combine this mindset with some technicalities ÔÇö meticulous travel planning and preparation, and some thorough research about your destination in terms of its friendliness towards disabled travellers ÔÇö to enjoy a great trip each and every time.

Be it a long-awaited vacation or an important business trip, donÔÇÖt let the fear of challenges facing disabled travellers deter you from making the journey. Reclaim your independence now!

 

Shun the ÔÇ£victimÔÇØ mindset

You are not helping yourself much if the primary thought on your mind is ÔÇ£I cannot make it.ÔÇØ There are many disabled travellers who are travelling worldwide, and many countries are becoming more empathetic making travel for the disabled a joyous affair. In many countries, legislation requires special disabled-friendly measures to be implemented in transportation, accommodation and other public facilities. With most of the world by your side, willing to help you, you could only make your travel more enjoyable.

Connect with other disabled travellers through internet forums, blogs and social networks, and get to know about their experiences, the good, bad, best and the worst. This information helps you prepare yourself for all possible eventualities, and also gives you an idea of destinations you are better off to stay away from. Find out if there are local associations or clubs supporting travel for the disabled and visit these venues to get inspired.

 

Be well-informed about your destination

Research well about your destination before preparing to leave. Does the country have special laws of access for the disabled? Does the country feature special amenities that make travel for the disabled effortless? What are the facilities available on their public transport and hotels? Are there walk-around areas or ramps at key tourist spots to facilitate easy tours for disabled travellers?

Visit the countryÔÇÖs official tourism website and find out if such information is available. Blogs and forums specific to travel for the disabled can offer helpful information. Local associations and clubs working for the cause of disabled travellers are a valuable source of information too. Call up people in your clique who are otherwise-able and have been on a trip to your prospective destination, and get all possible information from them.

Use all the information above to reach a well-informed conclusion about the affability of your destination towards disabled travellers. Make a final decision based on your conclusions.

 

Deal with travel basics in advance

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Travel for the disabled involves key challenges of transport and accommodation. Get them right and you get, perhaps, half of your work done. Contact prospective service providers offering services required to accomplish your travel (e.g. flight/bus/train/other, hotels, etc.) and find out if they offer all facilities for disabled travellers.

It is crucial to specify details when asking for such information. Instead of asking, ÔÇ£Is your airport disabled-friendly?ÔÇØ ask for specifics ÔÇ£Do you have wheelchairs and guides to help mobility-disabled travellers board the flight?ÔÇØ

When booking hotels, ask if there are roll-in showers, walk-around areas, ramped cars, or other aids specific to your disability. Specifics get you accurate information and let service providers know about your real needs so that they can arrange for the same if possible. You could look for alternate options if the service providers do not have what you need.

Ensure you book your journey and make your reservations as fast as possible. As more and more disabled travellers are moving around the world, reservations for such facilities are in high demand. It would help to be swift with your bookings, especially if the facilities conform to your requirements, so that you donÔÇÖt miss the opportunity.

If you are planning to use a travel service to take care of the trip for you, ensure you hire a well-known travel agency that specializes in travel for the disabled.

 

Be informed, be protected

Know about laws governing travel for the disabled at the destination country. Knowledge of these laws protects you from being deprived of your rights and from being duped by service providers. For example, in some countries, transport service providers may be required to allow wheelchairs under non-luggage category and levy no luggage cost on them for disabled travellers. When you are aware of the fact, you can question your airline service if they levy charges for wheelchairs.

Similarly, if a hotel service provider offers free transport facility from airports to the hotel, they may be required by law to offer free access-friendly transportation for disabled travellers as well. You can exercise your rights if the hotel refuses to send an accessible vehicle or talks about billing you for the accessible transport.

 

Instil in Yourself Travel Discipline

  • Travel for the disabled, as with travel for others, gets only better with discipline. With discipline, youÔÇÖll be able to overcome preventable travel catastrophes and increase your chances of enjoying your journey more. Take heed of these simple precautionary measures:

Meet your doctor before taking your trip. Discuss in detail about the possible preventive measures you can take to ensure safety of your health all through your travel. Ask your doctor if you need to alter your dietary habits.

Request your doctor to provide you with a medical letter that explains your condition, symptoms, prescribed treatment, preventive measures, type of access facilities essential, and other key information, for added safety.

Get your doctorÔÇÖs phone number and ensure that you can reach him or her at any time during an emergency. Remember to pack your prescription.

  • Never forget to label your luggage and mobility aids, if any, such as wheelchairs. Insert a card with your name and contact details into the appropriate space of your luggage.
  • Ask your travel agent for a written confirmation of all that was promised to you at the time of service purchase. This includes journey tickets, disabled-friendly seating arrangements (e.g. aisle seats if youÔÇÖre travelling by air), and access to other facilities to aid you in travel.
  • Inform airport authorities that you need assistance, preferably while booking tickets (if youÔÇÖre booking it yourself), so that they can make all necessary arrangements for you.
  • DonÔÇÖt hesitate to ask for help at any time during the travel. People will only be ready to help you.
  • Consider planning your trip, especially if itÔÇÖs a leisure travel, during non-peak seasons so you have a hassle-free and less-crowded vacation. Peak seasons could mean high demand for journey tickets, which means you may or may not get the seating arrangement you require; hotels and key tourist spots at the destination become in-demand areas, which could make travel and stay difficult for you.
  • Pack your parking permit if such permits are issued by your country, if youÔÇÖre planning to use your wheels at the destination. Parking permits for disabled travellers are acknowledged in different countries. Otherwise, you might end up paying expensive parking charges for access to disabled parking areas.
  • Avoid connecting flights and roundabout trips if possible. If not, ask the flight crew to ensure that there is help ready at interim airports.
  • Ensure your health all through the travel by keeping yourself hydrated with water.
  • DonÔÇÖt overexert yourself. Listen to your body and slow down when needed.

 

Travel for the disabled is not a distant dream that is unattainable. Take charge of your travel and enjoy a fabulous trip each time every time!

Last modified on Monday, 16 February 2015 11:53