Gransnet forums

Accessible travel - expert Q&A

(28 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 18-Feb-19 15:46:30

When it comes to planning a holiday - whether with friends, partner, a family group - one of the considerations for many is accessibility. Can I get a room on the ground floor? How can I avoid loads of steps? I want to book a tour but I'm worried about having to haul all my luggage the whole time. How can I plan an itinerary that doesn't involve lots of complex changeovers? - and so much more.
And then there's getting through airports, travelling with 'hidden' issues such as hearing loss, dementia or other health problems, all of which can make booking complicated or confusing.

Debbie and Jennie, our friends at Silver Travel Advisor, are here to answer all your questions about accessible travel, so leave yours on this thread before midday on Monday 4 March. We'll be posting the answers on here that same week.

Silver Travel Advisor is a friendly website run by a team of mature travel industry professionals with many (many!) years of experience. Their backgrounds are diverse, but they are all united by our passion for travel, and their aim is to gather and offer impartial advice, information and recommendations which can be trusted.

NanaandGrampy Mon 18-Feb-19 19:24:01

Hi! I’ve spent many years holidaying in the US . Not only do I like the variety but it’s so set up for accessibility.

When I was working and travelled on my own it was all so easy. I travel with a mobility scooter, often picking up a hire car at the airport.

Now I’d like to travel less long haul and wanted to see more of Spain but is there anywhere I can find accessibility information for flights, hotels airports etc?

My nightmare would involve deplaning on the tarmac with a long walk through the terminal, arriving at car hire and not being able to get a vehicle that would take my scooter or arriving at the hotel to find large parts are not step free.

Do you have any hints or tips to find the info I need rather than a hit miss internet search ?

callgirl1 Tue 19-Feb-19 00:03:13

Hi, I`d like to know, please, if there are any mobility scooter hire places in the Kensington area of London? I`m going midMarch with my daughter, and hate to think that my slow progress will hold her up and prevent her seeing as much as she`d like.

Charleygirl5 Tue 19-Feb-19 18:42:05

I also need a room on the ground floor, cannot heave baggage around and I also need a walk in shower and could not cope with one over a bath. To be honest I find it easier to stay at home!

I have not attempted to get travel insurance and feel with my problems and age the insurance company may find it cheaper paying me to stay here!

Granny23 Thu 21-Feb-19 11:06:44

My problem is trying to arrange respite care for DH (with advanced Dementia) to coincide with the dates I want to go on holiday. Care Facility will not take bookings more than 3 months in advance, only geared up for Saturday to Saturday stays and does admissions at 3.00pm and turfs them out at 10am, meaning that travelling on the Saturday is virtually impossible, as is adding a Friday or Sunday to the respite stay. I am very reluctant to book two weeks of respite in order to have 1 weeks holiday for myself as the cost (almost £1000 for 1 week's respite stay) is prohibitive.

AlisonKF Fri 22-Feb-19 18:39:13

Arthritis has made my mobility poor so that the best compromise is a coach holiday within my limited means. Trying to book recently I was told that single bookers are left to last if a couple can be booked first - even if the single agrees to a extra charge. You may say this is just business but the number of single women wanting to travel into old age , must be increasing. So called " singles" holidays are invariably quite expensive. At the back of this, of course, are hoteliers determined to fill double rooms. Until recently, I drove and used Youth Hostels, but am past this now. Any chance of a chain of simple hotels with many single rooms?

Davidhs Sat 23-Feb-19 07:18:44

There are plenty of group holidays that cater for singles, either you share with another of the same sex or pay extra, although there are sometimes single occupancy rooms at no extra. Many travel with a friend - a travel buddy, there is no discrimination that I have seen, they are glad to get an extra booking. I travel as a single, if a single room is cheap I will take it, usually I share, several times I have had a single by default.

Lollin Sat 23-Feb-19 14:35:22

I thought it might help to have a look at your website by clicking on your link in the opening message for this thread. Well, four clicks later and still not reached any information about the holiday i thought i was looking up so i gave up!

jazzgrands Thu 07-Mar-19 15:23:46

I'd really like to take my two DGS on holiday - we have a small place in Portugal. But both of them are on the spectrum (highly functioning) but I'm worried the flight will be too overwhelming for them and wondered if you had any coping ideas? I haven't got as far as research into this - I imagine there is a lot, but thought I'd pose the question to you as I'm here!

Miep1 Sat 09-Mar-19 15:39:09

I've had no problems flying to France and Eire where they had Wheelchair accessible buses so I could get around. But most coaches don't have a wheelchair space, so getting to another airport would be difficult and this also prevents any sort of coach trip. I go everywhere with my best friend and whilst we need a hotel to be Wheelchair accessible, we want a bath, not a shower. We'd love to go to Istanbul but for all the above reasons I don't think we'll ever make it!

Teacheranne Mon 11-Mar-19 11:28:15

Two points from me!

First, I object to paying a single supplement only to find that I have been given a tiny, single room. In Austria, I swear the room I had used to be a cleaning cupboard, I could touch the walls at both side when I stretched out my arms! This happens a lot in Europe and also with single cabins on cruises. How can hotels or cruise ships justify this when I have paid a supplement?

I have travelled extensively but now I have severe arthritis, I am limited as the locations, I have also developed a fear of flying so have began looking at using the train to access river cruises in Europe or sailing from the UK. I am unable to find a suitable holiday though as most river cruises mention the possibility of having to clamber across other moored boats to access the port, not something I could do. Also with ocean going cruise ships ( I fancy going to Norway) being so large, I don't think I could walk far enough to get around the ship for meals, entertainment or landing. Any ideas of companies/ships which provide mobility scooters to rent?

oneworld Tue 12-Mar-19 16:14:32

Am I too late? I hope not. I have enjoyed a number of river cruises in the past, but a couple of them have involved a lot of lugging of luggage which I can no longer do. Are there similar trips where someone can help with the bags at every stage? Thank you

springflowers Tue 12-Mar-19 16:18:55

I am not sure whether this is something you can help with as it is travel rather than holidays but hoping for the best. I live in London and my son lives in York. I travel to see them by train, but not since I had a hip replacement, which I am now recovering from. I can get a taxi to the station but it's what happens after that which concerns me - I don't think I can cope with getting myself onto the train let alone my baggage too. What's the best way round this? Funds will not allow a taxi all the way to Yorkshire

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 12-Mar-19 16:20:29

Nick of time! We've sent off the questions but will add these to the list. We will post the answers to all as soon as we get them

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 14:40:03

NanaandGrampy

Hi! I’ve spent many years holidaying in the US . Not only do I like the variety but it’s so set up for accessibility.

When I was working and travelled on my own it was all so easy. I travel with a mobility scooter, often picking up a hire car at the airport.

Now I’d like to travel less long haul and wanted to see more of Spain but is there anywhere I can find accessibility information for flights, hotels airports etc?

My nightmare would involve deplaning on the tarmac with a long walk through the terminal, arriving at car hire and not being able to get a vehicle that would take my scooter or arriving at the hotel to find large parts are not step free.

Do you have any hints or tips to find the info I need rather than a hit miss internet search ?

Hello, thanks for your question.

I think the best way for you to be certain your holiday will go to plan is to use a specialist tour operator such as Enable Holidays, who specialise in holidays for limited mobility, using adapted transfers when you’re abroad. They also ‘audit’ all the hotels they recommend, so you can find out exactly what facilities are on offer and often, you can discuss this with the person, who has visited the property.

As far as airports are concerned, you can find maps and even floorplans online. Here’s a link to Heathrow airport. Your flight provider should ensure you get all the assistance you need from the terminal door to the ‘skin’ of the aircraft: this is current EU law. Just ensure you talk to the airline well before you fly and re-confirm with them 48 hours before departure.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 14:41:50

callgirl1

Hi, I`d like to know, please, if there are any mobility scooter hire places in the Kensington area of London? I`m going midMarch with my daughter, and hate to think that my slow progress will hold her up and prevent her seeing as much as she`d like.

Hello, can I suggest you contact www.peoplefirstinfo.org.uk/going-out-staying-in/travel-and-transport/mobility-scooters/. You can hire a mobility scooter or wheelchair in this borough, call 020 8960 8774.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 14:44:28

Charleygirl5

I also need a room on the ground floor, cannot heave baggage around and I also need a walk in shower and could not cope with one over a bath. To be honest I find it easier to stay at home!

I have not attempted to get travel insurance and feel with my problems and age the insurance company may find it cheaper paying me to stay here!

Hello, we may have a solution for you! Talk to Limitless Travel for tours in the UK and Europe. They are specialists in disability travel and even provide carers on all their tours. All their coaches are wheelchair accessible too.

Whilst you should still take travel insurance if you stay in the UK, it will probably more reasonable than if you’re travelling abroad.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 14:48:15

Granny23

My problem is trying to arrange respite care for DH (with advanced Dementia) to coincide with the dates I want to go on holiday. Care Facility will not take bookings more than 3 months in advance, only geared up for Saturday to Saturday stays and does admissions at 3.00pm and turfs them out at 10am, meaning that travelling on the Saturday is virtually impossible, as is adding a Friday or Sunday to the respite stay. I am very reluctant to book two weeks of respite in order to have 1 weeks holiday for myself as the cost (almost £1000 for 1 week's respite stay) is prohibitive.

Hello, have you looked at Revitalise Respite Care www.revitalise.org.uk? Or how about having someone to look after DH at home through Able Community Care? Then you decide all the timings and have no worries about any delays or similar.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 14:56:06

AlisonKF

Arthritis has made my mobility poor so that the best compromise is a coach holiday within my limited means. Trying to book recently I was told that single bookers are left to last if a couple can be booked first - even if the single agrees to a extra charge. You may say this is just business but the number of single women wanting to travel into old age , must be increasing. So called " singles" holidays are invariably quite expensive. At the back of this, of course, are hoteliers determined to fill double rooms. Until recently, I drove and used Youth Hostels, but am past this now. Any chance of a chain of simple hotels with many single rooms?

Hello, we do often have requests for solo travellers, so we’ve produced a mini guide specifically for the Solo Silver Traveller. You can take a look online or request a printed copy here.

You might try Grand UK Holidays for singles coach tours or perhaps Shearings. Many women travel on these trips and really enjoy themselves, and as they are holidays just for single travellers there will be none of the issues you mention above.

Davidhs below is correct, if you opt for same sex sharing you may end up having a room to yourself.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 14:57:20

Davidhs

There are plenty of group holidays that cater for singles, either you share with another of the same sex or pay extra, although there are sometimes single occupancy rooms at no extra. Many travel with a friend - a travel buddy, there is no discrimination that I have seen, they are glad to get an extra booking. I travel as a single, if a single room is cheap I will take it, usually I share, several times I have had a single by default.

What a bonus Davidhs!

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 14:58:52

Lollin

I thought it might help to have a look at your website by clicking on your link in the opening message for this thread. Well, four clicks later and still not reached any information about the holiday i thought i was looking up so i gave up!

Please let us know exactly which holiday you were looking for and we'll send you a precise link.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 15:06:03

jazzgrands

I'd really like to take my two DGS on holiday - we have a small place in Portugal. But both of them are on the spectrum (highly functioning) but I'm worried the flight will be too overwhelming for them and wondered if you had any coping ideas? I haven't got as far as research into this - I imagine there is a lot, but thought I'd pose the question to you as I'm here!

Hello, thanks for your query. My first thought is to ensure you fly at a quiet time, rather than at a peak, such as Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps fast tracking through security would ensure an easier experience too. Heathrow have taken a positive stance too, they have a scheme especially designed for those with autism. I would ring the airline you intend to fly with, explain the situation and work with them. They are obliged to have a special assistance policy.

The Civil Aviation Authority list all the airlines so you can go straight to the relevant pages. The National Autistic Society also provide holiday and flight guidelines.

There may be value in visiting the airport for a look around before your trip and watching videos on Youtube about what to expect on a flight. We found several, maybe try this one.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 15:11:46

Miep1

I've had no problems flying to France and Eire where they had Wheelchair accessible buses so I could get around. But most coaches don't have a wheelchair space, so getting to another airport would be difficult and this also prevents any sort of coach trip. I go everywhere with my best friend and whilst we need a hotel to be Wheelchair accessible, we want a bath, not a shower. We'd love to go to Istanbul but for all the above reasons I don't think we'll ever make it!

Hello, as above, try contacting Enable Holidays. They will be able to give you plenty of information and help you book trips. For Istanbul, try this site or the Turkey Travel Centre.

Remember in airports you have protected rights, there has to be transport from the aircraft to the terminal for wheelchair users, and within the terminal you have to be able to access the same areas as an able bodied person. Ask your airline or holiday company.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 15:16:44

Teacheranne

Two points from me!

First, I object to paying a single supplement only to find that I have been given a tiny, single room. In Austria, I swear the room I had used to be a cleaning cupboard, I could touch the walls at both side when I stretched out my arms! This happens a lot in Europe and also with single cabins on cruises. How can hotels or cruise ships justify this when I have paid a supplement?

I have travelled extensively but now I have severe arthritis, I am limited as the locations, I have also developed a fear of flying so have began looking at using the train to access river cruises in Europe or sailing from the UK. I am unable to find a suitable holiday though as most river cruises mention the possibility of having to clamber across other moored boats to access the port, not something I could do. Also with ocean going cruise ships ( I fancy going to Norway) being so large, I don't think I could walk far enough to get around the ship for meals, entertainment or landing. Any ideas of companies/ships which provide mobility scooters to rent?

Hello, I can totally understand your frustrations with single accommodation, it is something we raise with holiday companies and cruise lines. The best way round this is to keep a very close eye on offers for single travellers where there is no single supplement, and often double rooms are offered for single occupancy. We try to highlight these in our special offers newsletters each month.

A cruise to the Norwegian fjords would be fabulous and most cruise lines can accommodate mobility scooters easily. In fact, we have several reviews on www.silvertraveladvisor.com about this very experience. And you can sail from the UK too, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines leave from Southampton, Dover, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Try www.mobilityatsea.co.uk/accessible-cruising for scooter and other accessibility equipment.

SilverTravelAdvisor Mon 18-Mar-19 15:20:10

springflowers

I am not sure whether this is something you can help with as it is travel rather than holidays but hoping for the best. I live in London and my son lives in York. I travel to see them by train, but not since I had a hip replacement, which I am now recovering from. I can get a taxi to the station but it's what happens after that which concerns me - I don't think I can cope with getting myself onto the train let alone my baggage too. What's the best way round this? Funds will not allow a taxi all the way to Yorkshire

It’s all here for you in out Great British Travel and Transport Tips mini guide: en.calameo.com/read/004427423bceb4d79aa6e

Train companies want to make their services accessible to everyone, call 0800 022 3720 to arrange for someone to help with luggage (up to 3 pieces) and they will meet at the station entrance, and collect you from the train. There’s more information in the mini guide.