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Planning for a holiday when you have a disability

If you are one of the millions of people around the world who have the time and the resources to travel, but who have physical restrictions or are disabled, you are not alone. Today you are part of a growing trend of travellers. According to the Academic Network of European Disability Experts (ANED), across the European Union around 26% of the population aged 16 and over are disabled. And according to the Department for Working Pensions, there are 11.9 million disabled people in the UK.

This significant percentage of the population also contribute greatly to tourism, with the ANED also confirming that the travel and tourism for people with physical restrictions or disabilities is now over €100 billion.

Yet those with a disability who are planning a holiday, will know that doing so comes with unique concerns. With this in mind, we have travel tips devoted to you – or anyone you know with a disability!

Here are our 12 top tips when you’re travelling with a disability

1) Start at the beginning

The secret to a stress-free trip is to plan ahead and cover all bases. The first step is often getting disability travel insurance. AllClear provides specialist cover for all ages, for any medical condition, and to any destination.

Benefits of AllClear Cover

Gold Gold Plus Platinum
Emergency medical expenses and Repatriation costs Up to £10m Up to £15m Unlimited
Cancellation* and Curtailment Up to £2k Up to £15k Up to £25k
Travel Delay Up to £300 Up to £1,500 Up to £1,500
Recuperation stay
Personal Belongings Up to £2k Up to £2.5k Up to £3k
Personal liability Up to £2m Up to £2m Up to £2m
Legal protection cover Up to £50k Up to £50k Up to £100k
* If you buy a policy which includes cancellation cover
All these figures are per person and per trip

Simple 3 step quote process

1. Call us or click a quote button on our site

Once you are ready to start the quote process, the first step is to provide your personal details and information about your holiday plans.

2. Complete our simple medical screening process

You then declare the medical conditions for you (and any other travellers) and answer the specifically designed medical questions.

3. Get your quotes

You will then get your quotes and can either proceed to buy, or save your quote, at this stage.

2) Call ahead

No one wants to be uncomfortable in their accommodation, so call your hotel – or wherever you are planning to stay – for clarification of the facilities available to you.

3) Check your rental options

If you can’t find accommodation that will provide you with the equipment you need, but can accommodate you otherwise, you can hire equipment for the duration of your trip. Once you have found a hire company, most hotels will be happy to coordinate with them for you.

4) Communicate

When it comes to travelling (and air travel specifically), Tell everyone! If you have a special requirement, be sure to inform:

  • The agent when booking
  • The airline (in advance of your flight)
  • The special assistance desk before AND after security at the airport
  • The ground staff at the gate
  • The cabin crew

5) Allow yourself extra time

Some things can take a little longer. If you are travelling with a wheelchair, airport security will swab both the wheelchair and the person sitting in it. The swabs are then tested through a scanner before you are allowed to continue into the airport lounge. These extra procedures have the potential to delay your departure, and compensating for them will cancel out the risk of you missing your flight.

6) Take extra medication

Only you or your doctor will know best what medication – if any – is necessary to take with you on your holiday. If you’re not sure, check with your doctor! Also, besides keeping medical supplies and medication in your suitcase, keep a small bag with you at all times containing everything you might need. You may want to keep a few days supply of medication. This way, if you lose your luggage or something else happens, you have no reason to panic.

7) Be specific with your requests

For any requirements, such as those that are physical or dietary, be very specific when telling people what you need or how they can help you. Doing so will increase your well-being, and the safety of others.

8) Stay calm

You live with your disability every day and that means you know exactly what you need and how to handle things. But others may not. Yes, people should be trained and informed, but that isn’t always the case, so try and be patient with people by staying calm. You don’t want to be the cause of any unnecessary stress on yourself. This does not mean that you don’t deserve to be treated properly, and with respect. Assertiveness and aggression are very different!

9) Be prepared for a medical emergency

Information is the key to care. Keep on your person at all times information to do with your disability, medication, personal safety and any other important details. You may want to state the following:

  • Your disability
  • A list your medication (including dosage)
  • Next of kin contact details
  • Your doctor’s contact details
  • Places on your body that are painful
  • Possible triggers of your condition
  • Symptoms of a decline in your health
  • Your insurance details

This way if anything untoward should happen you know that the people around you can treat you correctly.

10) Do your homework

If you can find details in advance of any restaurants and tourist attractions that are accessible to you, you can make the most of everywhere you visit.

11) Be flexible

There may be places you want to visit that seem inaccessible to you. If you stay flexible you may not have to miss out. Places may surprise you with an alternative entrance, a private room or some helpful employees which could all lead to you getting exactly what you wanted.

12) Have fun

Now you have done everything you can to ensure a stress-free trip, enjoy yourself. You deserve it!

Author notes

Written by Lydia Crispin, MA Content Creator at AllClear
Edited by Letitia Smith, M.Sc. Content Manager at AllClear

Article sources:

The information in this blog post is not intended to replace professional medical advice. It is a general overview of a broad medical care topic. Blog posts are not tailored to one person’s specific medical requirements, diagnosis or treatment. If you do notice symptoms or you require medical advice, you should always consult your doctor or healthcare provider to obtain professional medical help. Read through our disclaimer for more information.

Written by: Lydia Crispin | Travel Insurance Expert
Last Updated: 23 August 2023

[1] Based on Trustpilot reviews of all companies in the Travel Insurance Company category that have over 30,000 reviews as of January 2023.