Answers to accessibility travel questions

Recent questions received on Gransnet and our Silver Travel Advisor answers about travel for those with accessibility needs

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?

Enable Holidays 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. Download the Heathrow Airport T2 map here. 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.

Hi, I’d like to know, please, if there are any mobility scooter hire places in the Kensington area of London? I’m going mid-March 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 You can hire a mobility scooter or wheelchair in this borough, call 020 8960 8774.

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!

Limitless Travel 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.

Here are some ideas from Silver Travellers for insurance companies.

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 a one-week holiday for myself as the cost (almost £1000 for 1 week’s respite stay) is prohibitive.

Hello, have you looked at Revitalise Respite Care 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.

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 an 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?

Revitalise Travel 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.

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

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!

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!

Heathrow Autism Passenger Guide 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 lists 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.

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.

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 begun 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 around 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 about this very experience. And you can sail from the UK too, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines leave from Southampton, Dover, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Try for scooter and other accessibility equipment.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

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