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Top seven travel tips for accessible travel

SrinMadipalliSrinMadipalli Posts: 5Member Whisperer
edited July 2017 in Guest blogs

Srin Madipalli is the disabled entrepreneur and CEO at Accomable, the leading booking platform for accessible hotel room and holiday homes with more than 1000 accessible hotel rooms and holiday homes available to book online. As an avid traveller, Srin shares his top travel tips.

Researching the destination

Before travelling, I always spend some time Googling destinations to see what accessibility is like. Accessibility can vary greatly from place to place. Countries with more developed infrastructure are usually easier; and will often have legislation in place requiring accessibility. I’m a powered wheelchair user unable to independently transfer, so it’s really important that I can find plenty of step-free access to buildings and wheelchair accessible transport options that are affordable. Unfortunately, it’s still difficult to find a one stop source of information. However, I helped create a Facebook Group called the Accessible Travel Club, a very active community of travellers with accessibility needs from all around the world. 

Man in wheelchair at the top of a mountain looking at the camera

Knowing what equipment you need

When travelling, I need a portable hoist (MoLift Smart) and my travel shower chair (Borringia Chameleon). I also usually take my travel ramps (Bentley Fielden Travel Ramp) that can fit on the back of my wheelchair. Finally, if I’m flying, I also take a Promove sling with me to make it easier for the assistance staff at the airport to safely transfer me.

Finding the right accommodation

Accessibility and location are the two main things I always look for. I need rooms with a roll-in shower that have space under the bed for my hoist. I helped create Accomable to make this search easier. Where possible, I love to stay in self-catering apartments – for example, my favourite place in Barcelona is this accessible apartment.

Depending on the transport situation and whether public transport is accessible, I also try to find places that are nearer to the city centre. However, this is not always practical (or affordable!), but it is ideal if I can just roll around everywhere I need to go in my wheelchair.

Man underwater with scuba diving equipment

Don’t fancy a big trip? Try a staycation first

At Accomable we often speak with people who are nervous about travel because they’re unsure of how easy it will be to get around a new country; or that they don’t trust how accessible their accommodation will be. I can completely understand this as someone who would regularly arrive at holiday accommodation only to find steps to the front door! It’s one of the main reasons I started Accomable. If this is you, my advice would be to take things slowly at first. Maybe a relaxing weekend in the countryside that’s only a short drive away? There are some brilliant accessible stays across the UK, whatever your tastes, from an eco-cottage in the Shropshire Hills to a designer pad in Wiltshire to accessible glamping in Devon.

Get into flight mode for a stress-free journey

Let your airline know that you have a disability when you make the booking, and tell them if you will be travelling with a wheelchair or any other mobility equipment. This will most likely need to be stowed in the cargo, so double check if this will count as part of your luggage allowance (and if not, what the additional charges would be). 

I also always let the airline know as far in in advance as possible that I need special assistance to get to and board the flight. The airport should always be able to supply a wheelchair and a trained person(s) to help you check in and board your flight on time and comfortably. I also remind the assistants at the check-in desk that I have booked special assistance for my trip.

If you are unable to independently transfer, you will need to be lifted from your wheelchair onto a narrow aisle chair. Once on the aisle chair, you are then moved onto the plane, where another manual lift is needed to transfer onto the seat.

As mentioned, sitting in a Promove sling does make this easier.

Man sitting on an adapted wheelchair on the beach next to the sea

Follow an accessible travel blog

Before you book, check the local tourism board website for information on wheelchair-friendly public transport (most major cities, particularly in Europe and Australia/New Zealand, should be good on this front), facilities and activities. There have been huge improvements to public infrastructure for people with mobility issues in the past 10 years making sightseeing easier and much more fun.

You could also check to see if any disabled travel bloggers have been there and what tips they give. Two that I recommend are Curb Free with Cory Lee and Have Wheelchair Will Travel.

Many will write guides on destinations, and their favourite accessible restaurants and sights. These blogs can really bring a destination alive, and make you feel more confident making a trip there.   

And remember, don’t forget the awesome Accessible Travel Club!

Enjoy yourself!

Look forward to your trip, discover a new culture, relax, visit a world famous site, see family, treat yourself - have a wonderful time!

Discover more than 1,000 fully verified accessible hotel rooms and holiday homes at Accomable – visit www.accomable.com or call 0203 409 6773

What are your holiday tips? What would make your travel easier? Let us know your good and bad experiences.


  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 13Member Listener
    Great information thank you so much
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 4,900Administrator Scope community team
    Thanks @SrinMadipalli for this great post!  :)
  • AlexAlex Posts: 1,200Administrator Scope community team
    Great post @SrinMadipalli, and I love what you're doing with Accomable!

    A great travel tip I remember reading from you in an article for Disability Horizons is to ask for photo proof when looking for accessible accommodation. Many hotels like to say "yes" to everything - so if you're in doubt, just ask them to send some photo evidence!
  • SrinMadipalliSrinMadipalli Posts: 5Member Whisperer
    Hi @NickT - it's really touching to hear this and thank you for the kind words. It means a lot that we can give some hope.
  • nanof6nanof6 Posts: 196Member Chatterbox
    at last, music to my ears, thankyou.Sarin
  • WheelyRachelWheelyRachel Posts: 67Member Talkative
    edited April 2017
    Thank you for some great travel information. 
    Ive stopped traveling abroad due to,
    1; being on my own and the single rates.
    2; all of the extra baggage charges for the equipment I need to take.
    3; Or higher charges for aid equipment when at destination.
    4; travel insurance being redicuosly expensive .
    5; not forgetting how many lies resorts or hotels will tell about the accessibility of the establishments. 

    Even holidaying in the uk is so complicated you can't really on the web site booking agents like travargo or booking.com as they are often in correct with Disability facility information, and so much dearer for us. I recently had to stay in Birmingham near to the NEC chose  the Ibas hotel only to find that their accessible rooms well you can get in the room but can't get around the bed in a wheelchair and the only electric socket is over the other side so couldn't charge my chair easily. The the bathroom was massive and well equipment.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 4,900Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @WheelyRachel I saw @SrinMadipalli talking recently at an event and he was saying the same as you about accommodation not being truly accessible as they state on the websites! What a rubbish state to be in and Im sad that things like this have stopped you travelling. 

    I have spoken to quite a few people about the extra costs of holidays for disabled people and it is so unfair.  

    Regarding travel insurance, do you use those comparison sites? I have found reasonable insurance (thought higher prices than if I didnt have an impairment) through searching the money saving expert site.
  • WheelyRachelWheelyRachel Posts: 67Member Talkative
    edited May 2017
    Thanks, @Sam_scope
     I have used the various comparison sites. I now found out that motability now do travel insurance and it's good cover and reasonable too.
  • bethanmorgan3bethanmorgan3 Posts: 3Member Listener
    My dad struggles with toilets whenever we go out and, as a family, we decided against going on holiday because it would be too much trouble for my dad. He is in a motorised wheelchair but usually in an assisted wheelchair whenever we leave the house, which again is rarely for my dad due to the toilet being such a big issue for him. Do you have any advice as to how we can better manage this? I would love to be able to go on holiday as a family and for my dad to feel confident that he could manage it 
  • WheelyRachelWheelyRachel Posts: 67Member Talkative
    Do you have a raidar key.
  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 13Member Listener

    My dad struggles with toilets whenever we go out and, as a family, we decided against going on holiday because it would be too much trouble for my dad. He is in a motorised wheelchair but usually in an assisted wheelchair whenever we leave the house, which again is rarely for my dad due to the toilet being such a big issue for him. Do you have any advice as to how we can better manage this? I would love to be able to go on holiday as a family and for my dad to feel confident that he could manage it 

  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 13Member Listener
    HI Bethanmorgan3 i am in a similar situation to your dad and need to be hoisted for the loo so we plan to go to places where there are Changing Places disabled toilets which have hoist and auto loo's
  • bethanmorgan3bethanmorgan3 Posts: 3Member Listener
    @WheelyRachel we do have a radar key, yes. It is really handy when we go out but it is still a challenge.

    @kennethlongstaff thank you for your reply! My dad is very hesitant to accept that he needs help in the form of hoists and things. He struggles to transfer but at the moment would rather that than use equipment to help. How do you find the facilities on aeroplanes? 
  • NeetsNeets Posts: 8Member Listener
    Great post, mine is also about travelling on my own. Haven't had a great experience with airports either. But would so love to travel for a break. 

    The cost is is the biggest problem
  • NystagmiteNystagmite Posts: 610Member Chatterbox
    My biggest problem is trying to find someone to go with. I managed to get insurance through my bank, who thankfully, haven't charged me any extra. I've not had a problem with airport assistance.
  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 13Member Listener
    I have to many problems to even think about flying so will be having my first holiday for 4yrs in an adapted log cabin at the lakes,their is a carer available to

  • NeetsNeets Posts: 8Member Listener
    hope your good. I would love to here more about your trip or if you have a link. Are you saying they provide Carer's
  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 13Member Listener
    The log cabin is on a farm at Crook just outside Windermere,There are two logcabins both with wet rooms, hoists ,hospital bed and shower chair. A carer is available at a charge of £12.50 hr .Two bedroom both double and in the twin a single plus hospital bed.i will forward the Link soon as i ind it
  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 13Member Listener
    www.lakedistrictholidays.co.uk  If you were to google it and put in lake district holidays it is the option for Mitchelland Farm which is situated at Crook near Windermere. The lady who runs the business is an ex nurse and when we spoke to her she was extremely well informed and very helpful. 
  • NeetsNeets Posts: 8Member Listener
    Oh thank you very kindly
  • missBrown5255missBrown5255 Posts: 1Member Listener
    my friends daughter as a child that is allergic to quit a few different foods she calls the airline and tells them but when she goes they never have food for her and she as to wait to see if first class or business  class leave anything so she can eat and once one of the staff on plane said she is in the same boat and always as to wait to see want left and she as same gone with out any food this is not right and should be sorted
  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 13Member Listener
    Totally wrong specially since you gave them prior warning
  • NeetsNeets Posts: 8Member Listener
    The thing is they all claim that disabled people are treated fairly when we are not. I think since the Olympics thing have gotten worse( of course only in my opinion) I booked flight assistance and not only did the staff want me to carry my suitcase on my lap. Which is where my health issue laid and then told me that I should hang the case over the side of the carriage.
  • NystagmiteNystagmite Posts: 610Member Chatterbox
    I've not had a problem at all with assistance. I do, however, don't appreciate waiting around for everyone else to board first. That is a right pain. They're usually faffing about for what seems like forever.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 4,900Administrator Scope community team
    I have to say when I travelled in a wheelchair last year, I found the service brilliant.  I think it makes a massive difference that I could get in and out on my own, I know it's very different if you can't get out easily and independently.  I booked ahead and asked for assistance and they were great.

    This year I travelled (not in a wheelchair) and was stopped when I went through the body scanner, my ostomy bag was shown and I needed to be searched. I was a bit worried, but the staff were great. I went through to a private room and they had to see my bag and swab the outside of it.  They really put me at ease and it wasnt stressful at all! 

    I know there are lots of issues around travelling with a disability but it would be great to hear some of your positive stories too.
  • NeetsNeets Posts: 8Member Listener
    The things is priority boarding means we are meant to go on first. I was using crutches at the time of travel but can't walk long distance. But she was  awful.  There's just no consistency and that is what is missing 
  • tommy2k17tommy2k17 Posts: 11Member Listener
    I am travelling to Cologne on Friday. I have got cerebral palsy, and my mate who I am going with wants to take two cases plus balance me. We are going for four nights. However, I think one suitcase is enough, what do you think?
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 4,900Administrator Scope community team
    Two cases is a lot for 4 nights in my opinion @tommy2k17 - what is he wanting to take?  Do either of you need a lot of medical equipment? 
  • tommy2k17tommy2k17 Posts: 11Member Listener
    No we don't, we don't need any medical equipment. I think his worry is that he won't be able to fit all he is taking in one suitcase as well as mine; but he has to help me as well; even though he has asked for assistance for me on the Eurostar, I am aware that sometimes assistance doesn't always come!
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 4,900Administrator Scope community team
    Maybe try packing up now to see what you can fit and what he can manage?
  • tommy2k17tommy2k17 Posts: 11Member Listener
    Yes, I'll do that, thankyou. What should I tell him if he still insists on taking two suitcases?
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 4,900Administrator Scope community team
    If you do a test packing, can you ask him to try carrying them and assisting you so he can gauge how it will be?
  • tommy2k17tommy2k17 Posts: 11Member Listener
    Yes, I will. Thankyou.
  • nanof6nanof6 Posts: 196Member Chatterbox
    ive traveled from cardiff bristol and bournemouth airport, very very good, can' t fault it
  • Hudo53Hudo53 Posts: 9Member Listener
    Brilliant I have been looking for information like this as my husband has just become wheelchair dependant.  
  • nanof6nanof6 Posts: 196Member Chatterbox
    hudo53, i can tell you they are so kind, what airport you going to?
  • Hudo53Hudo53 Posts: 9Member Listener
    Just waiting for him to be confirmed ok to travel.  At christmas he wants to go to Goa, as we have been going there for years, but he has always been able bodied, so this is a bit different especially for India.   When you are able bodied you don't notice so much, the roads, if your restaurant has a ramp, is our lovely guest house going to be able to accommodate us with the wheelchair?   Also if he does not get a leg, what happens on the long flight?    I am so sorry, but been a stressful day today and I so want something to look forwarad too!!

  • nanof6nanof6 Posts: 196Member Chatterbox
    yes i understand, you are right, ive been to a couple of places, and no i cant go back now im in a wheelchair.but the airports i said i no are exalant.
  • Hudo53Hudo53 Posts: 9Member Listener
    Good to know.
    We booked through Thomas Cook before any of this had happened, but he had mobility problems then.   They were really helpful over the phone.   Had to cancel in the end so don't know how good they are yet!

  • nanof6nanof6 Posts: 196Member Chatterbox
    travel agents,dont no, you will findout your holiday will cost you 3 times the price now, ive been to tenarief spain 2 people full board 3 weeks,£600, if i now book with a company for disable people you get 7 nights 1 person £1,900   you will have a bit of a shock, if you no the hotel you are going to,  cater for wheelchairs, book it as normal, because travel agents say their price and say someone will be at the airport to assist you right from the start of your holiday,and sound like its all in the exagerated price, the airports assistence is free both ends, so dont fall for there tricks,just make sure your hotel can cater for you, your transfers should be ok if you have a foldup wheelchair,
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 4,900Administrator Scope community team
    edited April 2017
    We asked "Have you struggled booking accessible holiday accommodation due to incorrect disability information?" and Lucy says:

  • bruonjamesbruonjames Posts: 4Member Listener
    Not been on a holiday in many years, lack of support, funds, and I particularly find it hard now my blue badge has expired.
     After my blue badge expired last year I have been in battle with Norfolk county council to get a renewal, apparently according to them the criteria has changed, and I am no longer eligible, I spoke with department of transport who have assured me that nothing has changed that will make it harder, but on the contrary, it should be even easier.
     As for disability living allowance, and now pip, although I score 15 points, I am still eligible to work, and all they will do for me is re train me to do a job.
     But as I explained to them, I might be disabled, but I am not stupid, I have a wealth of qualifications, my brain functions, but it's my body that will not cooperate, I do not need training to know what I can and can't do, after all, I was run over by a car travelling at about 40mph, this was back in 1984, I have had to deal with the damage caused ever since.
     As time goes by, my problems have only become more of a hindrance, and a burden, and the pain has increased, I would not expect that over time my damaged bits would heal themselves, I don't have a magic wand, if you listened to my county council, you would think a miracle had happened, sadly the truth is, there has been no miracle, and my health has deteriorated significantly.
     I have not been on holiday since 1999, and that was a camping trip, I have only been abroad 1 for holiday, and I was only able to go because I got it free in return for carrying out maintenance, and repairs to the villa electrical system.
     Having had to stop working in 2010 because of the damage I was causing my already damaged joints meant a lack of available funds again, and no financial aid, or help also makes things tough, besides, I don't have a passport any more.
     Still, the department of work and pensions must know best, after all they know better than my surgeons, the same surgeons who told me about the damage I had already caused by working.
     Not sure I can help with any advice, except,  enjoy each day , live life to you best abilities, and play as hard as you work
     Thanks for reading
    Brion James is my name, not bruin, that was a typo.
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