Before you go

Travel to Europe will change from 1 January 2021. Visit Gov.uk to find out more about the new rules and arrangements.

Make sure you have the right travel insurance for your needs. This could be expensive but it’s best to be covered. Shop around for quotes and ask for advice from disability organisations. You must tell your insurance company about your condition when they ask. If you don’t, your insurance could be invalid. Our webpage shopping around for insurance has more information about what to consider and how to find a specialist insurance broker or provider.

Research your destination. Guidebooks, local tourist boards and tourist information websites may have details of facilities for disabled people. Online travel and disability forums can be a useful source of information. You can also find general travel advice by country on gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

If you need special equipment, such as hoists, find out if you can hire it locally rather than taking it with you. You may be able to get in touch with local disability groups for information about what’s available.

Travelling with medication

You may need to make special arrangements if you’re taking medication abroad. The rules vary in different countries. For example, some medication that you can buy over the counter in the UK may be controlled in other countries. If your medicine contains a controlled drug, you may need to take proof that it was prescribed for you. Find out more on Gov.uk.

Check with your airline or tour operator as well if you’re planning to travel with medication. Contact your GP for advice at least two months before you go. You can find more details on the NHS website.

Booking a holiday

Be very clear about what your needs are when you book your accommodation. Make sure that it really is accessible. Get confirmation in writing of any help they’ve agreed to provide. You might want to check whether they have:

  • step-free access to all the main areas and toilets
  • access to amenities such as swimming pools, bars, the beach
  • charging facilities for equipment such as powered wheelchairs or scooters
  • aids such as grab rails, ramps, or special mattresses.

Think about the location as well and how close it is to the places you want to go.

Make sure you know how to get around once you get there. Find out about local public transport and any help that might be available. You might want to research taxi companies that can take a wheelchair for example. Check that any tourist sites you want to visit are accessible.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has more advice and a useful checklist for disabled and less mobile passengers to help you prepare for your holiday.

Travelling with a wheelchair and other equipment

Remember to take any equipment and spare parts that you might need, such as tools, inner tubes, a voltage converter and adaptor.

Attach instructions to your wheelchair or scooter so it can be handled properly, at the airport for example. If there are any items that could come off, such as cushions or parts, keep them with you.

Some airlines won’t take certain types of batteries or oxygen cylinders. They might also have special instructions for how to pack some items. Check the airline’s policy on any equipment that you need to take with you.

You can travel with up to two items of mobility equipment free of charge if you’re disabled. This won’t count as part of your baggage allowance.

If you’re flying

Before you travel, let the airline or tour operator know your specific requirements. You must travel with a companion who can assist if you need help with things like feeding, breathing, using the toilet or taking medication.

  • Plan how you’ll get to and from the airport.
  • Carry documentation that explains your disability or health condition and your specific needs.
  • Some airlines may ask for evidence that you’re fit to travel, such as a medical certificate from your doctor.
  • Get written confirmation of any arrangements that you make with the airline.

People travelling by plane to or from the EU have certain rights. Airlines and tour operators must not refuse to carry passengers or take bookings because of reduced mobility, except for safety reasons or because the size of the plane makes it impossible for you to board. If they can’t take you, they must offer you an acceptable alternative.

They should also provide help from when you arrive at the airport to when you board your flight. If you’re blind, partially-sighted or deaf, information such as flight departures and in-flight safety should be available in alternative formats such as Braille and audio. You could also sign up for text and email alerts about flights.

If you don’t get the help you’re entitled to, you should complain to the airport or airline first. The Civil Aviation Authority has more advice about making a complaint if you need to take it further.

You can download a booklet from the Equality and Human Rights Commission to find out more about your rights when flying.

Travelling by rail

In Europe, most rail companies should be able to offer help to disabled travellers. The standards may vary and you’ll need to organise it in advance. You can find the contact details of rail companies on eurail.com.

If you’re travelling outside Europe, contact local rail companies before you travel to check what help is available.

Driving abroad

The rules for driving abroad are changing from 1 January 2021. You may need to take extra documents and equipment, depending on where you’re going. Find out more on Gov.uk.

If you’re travelling in Europe, you can use your Blue Badge to get the same concessions that are available to local citizens. There are no arrangements outside the EU, so you’ll need to find out about local concessions before you go.

If you’re hiring a car, make sure the company is aware of your specific needs and check the terms of any insurance. You may want to pay extra to ensure that you’re fully covered.

Next steps

You can find more advice about travelling abroad if you’re disabled at gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-for-disabled-people

Some arrangements with the EU could change from 1 January 2021. Check the latest guidance at gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Our factsheet Help with getting around has more information about the support available if you're disabled or have a long-term health condition.

 

 

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