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Top seven travel tips for accessible travel

SrinMadipalliSrinMadipalli Posts: 2Member Listener

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. 

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.

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.

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: 12Member Listener
    Great information thank you so much
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 1,319Administrator admin
    Thanks @SrinMadipalli for this great post!  :)
  • AlexAlex Posts: 619Administrator admin
    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!
  • NickTNickT Posts: 6Member Listener
    So empowering to read and eye opening. My wife and I used to love travelling but since her condition deteriorated last year we have stopped even thinking about it. You have given me hope we can look forward to doing it again. 
  • SrinMadipalliSrinMadipalli Posts: 2Member Listener
    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: 133Member Talkative
    at last, music to my ears, thankyou.Sarin
  • WheelyRachelWheelyRachel Posts: 62Member Whisperer
    edited April 21
    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: 1,319Administrator admin
    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: 62Member Whisperer
    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: 62Member Whisperer
    Do you have a raidar key.
  • kennethlongstaffkennethlongstaff Posts: 12Member 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: 12Member 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: 63Member Talkative
    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: 12Member 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: 12Member 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: 12Member 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: 12Member 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: 63Member Talkative
    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: 1,319Administrator admin
    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 
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