Giving your travel company as much information as you can will help you to plan a great holiday. Be realistic and list your particular needs in different holiday situations: booking, travelling, transfers, accommodation, getting out and about in the destination. Consider how independent, comfortable and healthy you're likely to be in different environments and climates, and in places where language may also be a challenge.
However you book – in a shop, via a website or call centre – and whoever you book with – direct with a tour operator, airline or cruise company – the booking process should be accessible. Your travel organiser should be able to provide information in large print or braille, on disk or memory stick, on audio file, or simply by email.
A key point when booking is to pre-notify your travel company of your needs (preferably at the point of sale, and no later than 48 hours before you travel). Pre-notification is vital because without it you have no legal guarantee that you’ll get the assistance you need on your journey.
You can download and use our Checklist for Disabled and Less Mobile Passengers. Or ask the ABTA Member to use it when you’re booking. Pre-notification info includes details of any mobility or other equipment you may wish to take, and whether you travel with a companion or you need assistance on the journey.
See the journey for information about travelling with assistance dogs and mobility equipment.
Remember, if you have a permanent and stable disability you do not require medical clearance to travel. However, some airlines and cruise companies may ask for medical clearance and may want assurance that you can attend to personal needs, such as feeding yourself onboard, or using the toilet. Crew onboard are not required to provide this type of assistance.
You and your doctor may need to complete a Medical Information Form (MEDIF), valid for one trip and only for the travel arrangements shown on your ticket. Frequent travellers with a stable condition may be able to obtain a Frequent Travellers’ Medical Card (FREMEC) – a permanent record of your specific needs.
When you’re selecting accommodation to meet your needs, be as specific as you can at the time of booking. You can use our Checklist for Disabled and Less Mobile Passengers or include information on the travel provider’s own booking forms.
This information is important because you need to find out if the accessibility of your room and accommodation facilities will form part of your booking contract, not just ‘on request’ – which means they may not be provided. Check with your travel provider as to what can be guaranteed when you book.
Your travel agent or tour operator can advise on accommodation details, as can the hotel, resort or cruise company direct. Think about the accessibility of your room, public areas, bars, swimming pools etc., besides how close the resort is to local shopping and entertainment, and the accessibility of various excursions.
It’s wise to plan your needs for getting around in your destination. If a transfer is included in your holiday booking, check with the travel agent or travel provider that the transport will meet your assistance needs.
Adapted cars are available for hire in many countries. Inform the car hire company of your requirements and always make sure you know the licence and insurance requirements, driving laws and driving conditions of the country you're visiting.
If you’re booking a taxi, book well in advance and stress your needs.
Insurance can protect you if you have to cancel your travel arrangements, so make sure you’re fully covered – for all the activities you may try – when you book. In many countries the cost of medical treatment in the event of illness or accident can be high, so it's essential that you take out a full travel insurance policy.
Things to check in the cover: medical and repatriation expenses; cancellation or delays; luggage and equipment; personal injury as a result of terrorist activity; personal liability to others; legal costs.
When you declare a medical condition you generally have to undergo medical screening, for instance calling a medical helpline to give details of your condition, or asking your doctor to complete a questionnaire or declaration of fitness to travel. Alternatively, you may sign a declaration stating that: you aren't travelling against doctor’s orders; you do not have a terminal prognosis; you haven't received in-patient treatment in the last six months; you aren't awaiting treatment or travelling in order to obtain treatment.
Most insurance suppliers will provide cover and offer specific policies for travellers with disabilities, or for older travellers. Shop around, and always check the small print.