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8 Tips for Travellers with Health Impairments

Travelling is an activity that almost everyone looks forward to. There is a certain joy and thrill in exploring new places, cultures and cuisines that can't be found anywhere. For travellers with disabilities, the joy of exploring new places can be hampered due to a lack of disability-friendly spaces and infrastructure. However, with some preparation, you can ensure that your trip is a safe and enjoyable one. This guide discusses some simple but important tips to meet essential requirements considering the needs of people with disabilities.

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Plans for an individual of 30 years age travelling to USA for 15 days

Ways to Prepare a Trip Abroad for Disabled Individuals

Our perception of the world varies from person to person. What may be a simple task for many non-disabled people can be a huge task for someone with a disability. The lack of disability-friendly infrastructure, amenities and public-spaces further makes it very difficult for such individuals to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Tips for Travellers with Health Impairments

However, things have been changing recently and increasing awareness has resulted in several improvements. Many monuments, hotels, transportation and venues are working towards meeting the special needs of disabled people. Let’s take a look at some effective ways to prepare for a trip for people with disabilities:

Picking a Suitable Destination

The first and most important step is to pick the correct destination. Whether travelling nearby or far, it is important to research your destination. Some countries may not be too accessible for certain disabilities, while some may have excellent amenities to meet the needs of individuals with health impairments.

For example, The Netherlands is among the best countries for people with disabilities as they have actively renovated their infrastructure to meet their needs. Many other countries have wheelchair access, special lifts, mobility aid, ramps, braille scripts, guides and trams equipped with wheelchair lifts.

You May Like to Read: International Travel Tips for Your Elderly Parents

Plan your Itinerary Well, But Be Flexible

Your itinerary must be well planned as per your individual needs and limitations. Every disability is different; only you know what you will enjoy or find difficult. For instance, a museum without audio descriptions will not be useful for individuals with vision impairments.

Similarly, for people with mobility issues, a trip to a monument without any ramps or functioning lifts may affect their experience. Ensure that the places you wish to visit are accessible to you. You can easily find many things to add to your itinerary by searching terms like ‘barrier-free’, ‘disabled’, ‘special needs’ and ‘reduced mobility’ with your destination name.

However, if even with all your preparation and research things don’t go according to your plans, be flexible by keeping some options you can fall back on. Always add a few extra places to your list, in case the original destination is too crowded or inconvenient. This will let you have more control of your trip and use that time better.

Hire a Supporting Guide

The experience and challenges during travelling can be a lot more demanding for people with disabilities; even more so if you wish to travel alone or want to go on a multi-country trip. You can consider hiring an expert tour guide or a travel agent who understands your needs and can help you with your travel goals.

Support and Guidance

Most European countries have specialised tour guides and care-providers who excel at catering to the requirements of disabled people. They can also help you plan a good itinerary, find accessible accommodation, arrange comfortable transport and any other relevant help you may need.

Prepare for the Flight

This is among the most crucial hurdles for most travellers with disabilities. Sadly, not all airlines are mindful of the needs of their disabled travellers. Look out for airlines with bad reputations, such as lack of ramps or wheelchairs.

To avoid any such disappointment, inform the airline that you will need extra assistance and share details. You should also avoid any last-minute rush and allow extra time for a smooth experience. If you’re a wheelchair user, carry any detachable parts like seat cushions as they can be damaged by baggage handlers.

Book Accessible Hotels

A functioning elevator may be a luxury in several cities of the world, so you must research your options well before booking. Luckily, a lot more hotels cater to the needs of people with different disabilities, and you can find a good one for your stay.

However, these hotels are very limited and in great demand as disabled people worldwide are on a look-out for these limited rooms for their trips. Make sure to book these rooms at least a few months in advance. Some of these hotels and guesthouses have a waiting for as long as 9 months. You should contact the hotel administration and inform them of your needs so that they can prepare accordingly.

Pack Essential Medical Supplies

People with varying disabilities may depend on medicines and other important medical equipment. Such travellers must carry their important prescriptions and other necessary medical supplies to ensure they can handle unexpected emergencies.

It is also helpful if you have a ready list of emergency contacts who can help you get any medical aid whenever needed. For such cases, a travel health insurance is also strongly recommended as it will help with several medical emergencies and support while travelling abroad.

Plan Your Routes Wisely

Public buses and trains are the easiest and cheapest way to get around any country, but they may not be accessible for people with disabilities. Similarly, not all taxis may be wheelchair accessible and it may be difficult for mobility impaired travellers.

Thankfully, many cities have made their bus stations, subways and train stations accessible by using ramps and elevators. You can plan your transportation accordingly to avoid any discomfort or inconvenience. A lot of famous cities worldwide like Tokyo, Amsterdam, London, etc. offer dedicated staff and guides to support disabled persons commute safely.

Buy Travel Insurance

If there’s one safety net that anyone can rely on while travelling, that is travel insurance. Buying trip insurance is the ultimate safeguard you can take towards your safety. While the tips shared above will make your trip experience safer and more enjoyable, your travel insurance will take care of any mishap you may face abroad. It will cover a range of medical crises as well as several stay-related and flight-related issues.

Over to You,

While planning a trip for individuals with disabilities may take some extra planning, making it an enjoyable trip without compromising your experience is possible. These simple tips will definitely help you prepare better for a trip to make the most of your travels. With some careful research and preparation, disabled individuals can surely explore the world and have beautiful travel experiences.

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*Price shown is for a 30 day trip to Thailand with 1 lakh dollar coverage for an adult of age 25 years

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