Tips from a traveller with disability

By Dale Ryan, 24 September 2018 , Comments

Northcott customer Dale Ryan has been to America, England, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, France, Canada, Italy, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Germany, Russia, Sweden and more.

With a list this long we couldn’t think of anyone better to offer advice on how to ensure disability doesn’t keep you from seeing the world.

Over to you Dale…

In this day and age there are so many people with disability who travel. Some can travel by themselves, while others, like me, need support. Most hotels cater for all your needs, and most buses and public transport have wheelchair access - except in very old counties where there are cobble stone roads and castles with no access.

Get organised

When deciding on a destination, you have to think about whether it is accessible or not. To do this, start with a little research before going to the travel agent. The travel agent can then access information in greater detail e.g. ringing wholesalers, tourist bureaus, hotels, airlines etc.

When organising flights, ask for a seat which has no one in front. If not, you can try upgrading to premium economy where the seats are wider, although it will cost more money. If the flight is not booked out you can also purchase a comfort seat where you can stretch out, this will cost a little extra, with rates dependant on your destination.

You can ask for the wheelchair door to door (make sure you get a security tag) as this will save you time if you need to catch a connecting flight.

Try and book your fights on an airline that operates an A380 aircraft. These wide-bodied planes feature a wheelchair toilet where the door folds outwards, making access a little easier.

Virgin Australia has a Disability Assistant Concession fare, which allows the carer a 50% discount which is applied to the base fare of any domestic travel. Taxes, fees and GST cannot be discounted.

Try cruising

Cruising is a popular option, especially for travellers with disability. The rooms are very spacious and have plenty of room for a wheelchair to get around. Bathrooms are always huge and you can ask for any support items you may need e.g. a commode. There is also an alarm next to the shower and I can tell you from experience that when I accidentally pulled the alarm the staff were there in a minute!

I mainly travel with my manual wheelchair, as my parents find it easier to manoeuvre around especially if it is ship by tender (where the ship cannot dock at a port). It is lighter for everyone concerned and with a power chair it maybe impossible for the passenger to disembark at a particular place. Again, some people will not like losing a bit of independence, but I think you have to look at all things to see what suits you best.

When going to the dining room for dinner you usually have an allocated table. If it is too difficult to get to – there are sometimes 50 -100 people eating at the same time - you can speak to the maitre d’ who will be able to meet your requirements.

The main thing to remember is to just go and enjoy yourself, even if sometimes you have to adjust to things you may not be comfortable with.

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