There’s nothing wrong with thinking about disability as a misfortune – it absolutely is a misfortune. It can be a wretched state of affairs for many people, but what it shouldn’t ever be is a barrier. Certain things are made much harder if you’re not completely able bodied, but that doesn’t that they shouldn’t be both achieved and enjoyed.
One of the things that many disabled people find particularly difficult is overseas holidays. The fact that airports are so stressful for able bodied people is enough to put somebody with physical difficulties off for life. It’s understandable – a long night of airport delays is enough to have anybody tearing their hair out, able bodied or not. Nevertheless, travelling with a disabled family member doesn’t have to be any more difficult than travelling with anybody else. It simply requires a bit more planning, say the experts at IndependentTraveller.com. Here’s a handy guide to travelling abroad with a disabled family member.
You’re Not on Your Own
It’s easy to forget that you don’t have to deal with the physical technicalities all on your own. There is no difference between asking for help with heavy suitcases, prams or specialist equipment and asking for help with a wheelchair. A disabled person is not their wheelchair – their chair is just a piece of kit that they use to get around. The staff at hotels, airports and restaurants is paid to help you and your family gets around, says Reduced Mobility expert Roberto Castiglioni. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, that’s what they’re there for. If you insist on treating a disabled family member as a special case – you’ll find it hard to pluck up the confidence to ask for assistance. Whatever you do, don’t try to handle everything alone. If you need help pushing a chair through the airport, or you need to get on the plane first – make sure that you use your voice and speak up.
Always Be Assertive
It’s important to realise that not everybody knows how to help a disabled individual. Don’t be offended if you ask a member of staff for assistance and they’re unsure about how to help you. They’re looking to you for guidance, not the other way around, says campaigner Susan Sygall. If you need a particular table in a restaurant, a certain room in a hotel, or your family member needs to be lifted on to the plane in a very specific manner – speak up and let staff members know what it is that you need. You are the authority in this area and you are the only one who can decide what’s best. Help people to help you by being confident and assertive, say the experts at 321 Travel.
Choose your Hotel Wisely
If you fail to properly research and organise your holiday, you can’t blame anybody else if it doesn’t go to plan. For example, if you book a hotel without finding out about its specs and then arrive to find that it’s at the top of a three mile hill – you are responsible for that decision. If it’s at all possible, leave nothing to chance. Email hotel owners to officially request a ground floor room, make sure that your accommodation is close to the main resort and ask about the accessibility of things like restaurant tables, swimming pools and local attractions. It can be frustrating to have to warn everybody about the arrival of a disabled family member, but it will make for a much more relaxing holiday.