MILLIONS of us have had our getaways cancelled due to the pandemic – and are anxious about when we will be able to travel once restrictions are lifted.
But what does the future of travel look like for the 2.2million people currently shielding, including the disabled, elderly and those with medical conditions?
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Disabled travel blogger Carrie-Ann Lightley has worked, lived and loved accessible travel for more than 15 years. She has reviewed many accessible travel destinations on her blog, and shares top tips for safe travel for disabled and older people.
She says: “I think the main struggle disabled travellers face when going away is the struggle to find accurate covid 19 accessibility information.
“There are many interpretations of what an ‘accessible’ room might be, and a resort could tell you that they have ramps throughout, but when you get there you find that the ramp gradients are so steep that you can’t use them independently.”
Her top tips for those planning an accessible trip this year are:
Do your homework – research, research and research even more. Spend some time web searching, guide-book reading and asking for some recommendations. See my suggestions, below.
Document everything – make sure everything is documented and filed in a safe place, including confirmations, mobility equipment manuals and any medical prescriptions.
Ensure you are insured – take out insurance, which includes cover for any medical conditions you have and your mobility equipment.
Protect your equipment – do what you can to protect your mobility equipment from damage.
Be flexible – allow time for delays and do not try to pack too much in to your itinerary.
Here, Carrie-Ann also rounds up some of the most helpful websites and apps available for accessible travel:
Accessable.co.uk – detailed and accurate accessibility information for tens of thousands of venues across the UK and Ireland, including shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, railway stations, hotels, universities and hospitals. All checked by trained surveyors. Information is available on the website and the free AccessAble app.
Accessible Travel Club – a Facebook group with more than 10,000 members worldwide share first-hand advice and knowledge about destinations they have visited, from where to hire mobility equipment to recommendations on who are the best tour operators to use.
Gov.uk – rights of disabled passengers on transport are here, including their rights when they are travelling.
Covers rail, cars, buses and coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles, maritime and aviation. Go to gov.uk/guidance/rights-of-disabled-passengers-on-transport.
MoneyAdviceService.org.uk – a great resource when buying insurance if you are ill or disabled. Summarises what you need to know to get the best policy for your needs at a decent price.
Includes information on all forms of insurance — travel, life, home and car.
CALVERT GIVES NAT HER SPARK BACK
NATALIE PARR is a regular visitor to Calvert Lakes, an accessible activity break centre in the north of the Lake District near Keswick.
And she can’t wait to get back when it opens towards the end of this summer. The centre hugely benefits her.
The 45-year-old from Coventry says: “I was a very fit, able-bodied and active teenager and young adult, doing lots of back-packing, adventures, travelling, and living life to the full.
“When I was 25 I had Guillain-Barre syndrome which attacked my nervous system and caused complications. I was left paralysed from the chest down and with severe and complex medical problems.
“Life changed hugely for me and my family, needing 24-hour care and everything adapted. I didn’t have much confidence in who I was after my illness, but I was encouraged to go to Calvert Trust.
“It gave me the real Nat back, the person desperate for adventure. I was able to take a full part in everything and giggled, squealed and laughed more than in years.
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“Calvert plays a huge part in keeping me feeling alive and totally included in our world. I always get excited when I know I’m going back. I can be put into a harness and I am free and able.
“I cannot describe how happy that makes me. My wheelchair gives me freedom but ropes and harnesses give me the ability to get to great heights.”
Calvert Lakes business manager Justin Farnan says: “We know the importance of what we do here for our visitors and are making detailed plans on how to deliver our operations while accommodating the new rules we are anticipating.”
READY . . . STEADY . . . HOE!
PEAK District-based accessible break provider Hoe Grange Holidays is working towards reopening from July 4.
The centre, which offers four stylish self-catering log cabins, and two gorgeous glamping pods, now guarantees a full refund for cancellations up to two days before arrival for any reason.
It has also rearranged its lodges and adjusted check in and out times to allow for deeper cleaning.
- IN South West France, Domaine du Sourire, an accessible gite complex in Champagne-et-Fontaine, this week opened up and is now able to welcome guests again.
The vast rural location means social distancing is relatively easy, and if guests need to cancel for any Covid-19 related reason they will be offered the choice of a full refund or the opportunity to rebook another date in 2021 at this year’s prices.
As well as deep cleaning of gites, all communal or shared spaces will be regularly sanitised and a social distancing system will be operated.
- FOR a safe, accessible leisure activity, Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, opened its golf facilities to visitors on May 16.
The clubhouse is closed, but access is possible to use the toilets (including accessible facilities).
Social distancing is observed, with hand sanitiser available at all touch points, and staff temperatures are taken daily.
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