How to travel with a disability?

Published 30 Apr 2019 • By Josephine O'Brien

Almost 15% of the world's inhabitants, or one billion people worldwide, have a disability. However, many of them try their hand at the adventure of travel every year. Focus on the best tips for globe-trotting with your wheelchair.

How to travel with a disability?

What medical precautions should you take before traveling?

The IncAd form (Incapacited passengers handling Advice) authorises a doctor to give information on the traveller's state of health. The travel company's doctor can thus inform all the departments involved in transporting and accompanying the passenger.

For people who travel frequently, it is better to take the Frequent Traveller Medical Card (FreMec). This is issued by the travel company's doctor for a period of five years. All the passenger has to do is give his number to the company and that's it.

How to get around in a wheelchair?

Many stations and trains are now adapted for disabled people. In the Uk, public transport has developed its offer of services for all disabilities - including such services as The Motability Scheme - which helps disabled travellers concerning cars and scooters.

All European airports also offer assistance to people with reduced mobility according to the regulation of 5 July 2006. On board the plane, many services are available - sometimes for a fee depending on the airline. For example: transfer chairs to take the passenger to the toilet on long-haul flights or free access for one or even two mobility accessories in the hold (wheelchair, scooter, crutches...).

Whatever the airline, it is better to inform them of the situation at the latest forty-eight hours before departure to avoid unpleasant surprises. It is a question of specifying the nature of the disability and any possible elements (assistance dog, companion, wheelchair with its dimensions, etc.).

Where can I find suitable accommodation?

To avoid disappointments when arriving on your holiday, some solutions exist. The easiest way to guarantee comfort is to stay with an organisation specialising in disability. If you are vacating to France, for example, The Association des Paralysés de France, offers about 100 stays each year for some 1,200 people with the help of 1,500 volunteer guides. Many websites offer adapted holiday packages: such as the well-known British company, Disabled Holidays, that allows you to plan and adapt your holiday according to your needs.

On traditional hosting platforms, it is better to ask many questions with as many details as possible to avoid any accessibility problems. In fact, there are numerous applications for your phone which will allow you to travel with more ease and less anxiety, you can find a helpful list by clicking here.

Accessibility: European's ranking

Top : Barcelona

The Catalan capital has accumulated the right points. All sidewalks are lowered, the paths along the beaches are paved, buses are accessible (two wheelchair spaces with belts are even available), the subway platforms are raised to the same height as the train.

Flop: Brussels

The European capital is not a disabled friedly place. Sidewalks are very rarely lowered. Sometimes it is even necessary to drive directly on the road. Very few buses are accessible. And there is a significant gap between the platform and the subway or tramway train.

How about you? How do you adapt for your holidays?

Do you use Apps? Let us know!


avatar Josephine O'Brien

Author: Josephine O'Brien, Community Manager UK

Josephine is the Community Manager of the UK with a Master’s in Publishing. She is a strong believer in the power of words and strives to make Carenity UK a comforting, vibrant and informative community for both... >> Learn more


JosephineO • Community manager
on 30/04/2019

Do any of you have difficulties with mobility when you are abroad? What steps do you take to make your journey easier?

@aglowlady‍ @bellabee‍ @conradmcewan‍ @Sylvia‍ @Statto‍  @tlehar‍ @angel85‍ @shakyghost‍ @Kenny5sons‍ @Nytsom‍ @stuart10mcintosh‍ @retro60‍ @pavo123‍ @angie610‍ @velocette‍ @Wally53‍ @mullacash‍ @Marian D‍ @PainedJan1‍ @beckasworld2‍ @Eve134‍ @fern67‍ @Jektt1‍ @mumstheword‍ @Nootka‍ @LucieH‍ @cataddict‍ @MrsB57‍ @Janbolina‍ @Jillybean29‍ @Wiserthansoap‍ @milnthorp24‍ @Millie839‍ 

lesmal • Ambassador
on 06/05/2019

I relocated to the U.K. almost 2 years' ago. So far, no travelling has been planned yet from here.

Travelling from South Africa was an absolute nightmare, as far as having epilepsy was concerned. One obviously has to obtain a letter from one's Doctor or Government Hospital with the details of one's disability and also listing the medication one is on for their disability. For safety, I made sure I got both! When going through a Travel Agent to make a reservation for flights, these also had to be provided as proof I was travelling with epilepsy. I now thought I was well on my way until I arrived at the airport and was checking in my luggage. I was then scrutinised for over an hour when trying to check in due to the fact I was carrying medication with me, which had already been listed by the Doctor and Government Hospital I was under. One month's supply had been issued as an emergency due to my leaving the country, i.e. all by name, dosage, amount of medication I was taking etc. I then was scrutinised by Customs who wanted me to return to the Doctor and obtain further documentation!  I refused due to almost missing my flight and also as this was well over 8.00 p.m, as if the Doctor would be in his practice anyway! Eventually approval was given. 

Going through Security was another episode due to the amount of medication I was carrying. Even after Customs approval, I was given the 'run around' and almost missed my flight(s). This obviously caused a lot of stress and minor seizures. At this stage, they realised I wasn't 'pulling a fast one' about having epilepsy, I needed my medication and offered me passenger assistance which was desperately required by then. 

Why must this happen to passengers with a genuine disability, especially when they've gone through all the proper channels to get documentation to travel? It makes me wonder whether its worth it in the end! 

on 06/05/2019

I have had 5 Spinal surgeries and am bent from my hips. I use crutches to walk, there for I can not carry my hand luggage or medication in my hands. I always book disability assistance from the checking desk to the air craft. Disability team at Birmingham airport are excellent. As long as you have packed your inhalers, powder or liquid medication in see through plastic sealed bags, there has never been a problem with medication. I travel frequently to Spain and the disability team there are equally good. I must say I have not had any problems. How ever, if you have been an inpatient in the hospital, or have had surgery within 3 months of travel, you are expected to have a fit to fly letter from your GP stating your diagnosis, your prognosis and requirement of oxygen if needed on flight. Without this letter you will not be allowed to board the plane. Between me and my husband we have a big bag of medication, a month's supply for each of us. I must say I have never had any problems with that. They put your liquid/powder medication and inhaler through the machine to check that there are no unsolicited drugs in them. 

on 20/05/2019

Make sure to take extra medication incase flights are delayed or cancelled. This happened to me this weekend where my flight was cancelled  and I ran out of pain relief! 

on 28/05/2019

I've traveled twice from Manchester  to Southampton airports, for connection to the cruise ship terminal for Cunard and PandO cruises. Once also from Liverpool to Edinburgh airports, for onward travel to Falkirk.

I always complete the travel documents required by Flybe for the flights. Generally their check-in staff and on-board stewards are excellent, and extremely helpful. However, my last experience with the check-in staff at Manchester, which concerned the type of battery to my disability scooter, was problematical. She was convinced my battery was of the wet type, despite my document confirming it was dry. Eventually, after consulting Google and one of her colleagues, she accepted it was dry. I only mention this as, had it been wet, I would have been refused to fly and would have had to have found alternative means of travel to Southampton.

The cruise ship staff, are generally excellent with PandO being extremely helpful, patient and understanding for those with a disability.

You will also like

How does changing time affect our health?

How does changing time affect our health?

Read the article
Light therapy: What is it and how can it benefit our health?

Light therapy: What is it and how can it benefit our health?

Read the article
What medications can cause hair loss?

What medications can cause hair loss?

Read the article
Which medications can cause adverse effects on the muscles?

Which medications can cause adverse effects on the muscles?

Read the article

Most commented discussions