Travel, holidays and leisure
If you are planning to get away, either in the UK or abroad, you may want to check that the accommodation, travel options and destination in general is accessible to your needs. If you are travelling abroad you will need to do some more research to make sure that your destination is going to meet your needs.
Whether you are travelling in the UK or further a field Tourism for All is probably the best place to start. Although they are a membership organisation, they offer information, advice and a booking service for destinations in the UK and abroad for all comers.
Alternatively, use the Visit Britain website. They have a search function that allows you to find accommodation using the National Accessible Standards rating.
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Flying abroad? Airports are usually enormous, with vast distances to be traversed between check-in areas, and planes. All airports provide wheelchair assistance, which is usually excellent, to get from A to B – you can book this through your airline, either at the time of booking by ticking the relevant box, or phoning a dedicated disability booking line.
Make sure you do this well in advance, or at the very least, three days before travelling. It’s extremely reassuring to be taken through the airport in an electric buggy or wheelchair (often jumping queues too!) and having the wheelchair waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.
It’s also very possible to travel with your own scooter, wheelchair or walking aids. Just phone or email the airline and they will help you organise it, at no extra cost.
Travel insurance is imperative for anyone travelling abroad (even to the EU) and of course, if you have a pre-existing condition like CMT, it can be more difficult to get and more expensive – but you MUST declare it.
However, many online companies now do offer “medical screening” as you go through the ordering process and amazingly, many of them now list Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease! Usually, the screening process may include questions about your overall health and specific CMT-related mobility issues.
There are many companies that provide suitable insurance, and we aren’t able to recommend any specific ones, but if you google “travel insurance for pre-existing conditions” a goodly selection appear that should be suitable.
As far as we are aware, there are no contra-indications in having any vaccinations for exotic locations, and of course, travel to some countries is conditional on being able to prove that you’ve been vaccinated. The risks of going to some areas without vaccinating are not worth taking.
There are a number of organisations that are specially geared up to make sports and leisure more accessible to people with disabilities. The sports covered include water-skiing, horse riding and scuba diving to name but a few. Ultimately, you are the best guide to what you can or can’t do. If it hurts, stop. Remember, if ever in doubt about whether you should take part, talk to your GP, physiotherapist or the instructor at the sports facility.
For a more sedate approach to leisure time, there are numerous art-based organisations about to help you enjoy culture, even if you do have difficulty getting around.
Or, if you are looking for ways to stay in the garden there are companies that can help you with specially designed tools and techniques. One of them, the charity Thrive, offers a range of advice and information.
It is just not possible to go through all leisure activities here, but your local organisation of people with disabilities may help you with the activity that gives you most pleasure.
You can also contact your local authority social services department and leisure department to see what is available. Many swimming pools and sport centres have special facilities and organised sessions especially designed for people with a disability.