By Emma (Simply Emma)
If you’re looking for a getaway this year but don’t fancy that flight abroad there are plenty of beautiful and inspiring places right on your doorstep. Travelling can be stressful, even if it is only around the UK but this can be especially difficult for travellers with a disability. We have joined up with lifestyle and travel blogger Emma who has given us her best insights to accessible travel around the UK and all the best tips and tricks to plan that perfect trip.
You can see Emma’s wonderful travels on her blog at www.simplyemma.co.uk
On your travels around the UK, where would you say have you experienced some of the best accessible locations?
This is difficult to answer as I haven’t found somewhere that has been completely accessible. Most places have both good and bad points in terms of accessibility, but on the whole, I’d say the accessibility of UK locations is definitely improving.
Which form of transport do you believe has the best accessibility? Have you experienced a particular company that has gone above and beyond?
The majority of the time I use my own car for getting around, but if I’m using public transport then it’s usually either train or tram. Edinburgh Trams are particularly good for accessibility and I always enjoy my experience with them. The level access onto the tram is extremely easy and I love how spacious the dedicated wheelchair spaces are. Edinburgh Bus Tours and Lothian Buses are also very accessible. They both now have a fantastic wheelchair securement system called Quantum installed on their buses, which hold wheelchairs in place to prevent them from sliding around while the bus is moving. My heavy wheelchair didn’t move at all even when the bus went around corners or over bumps.
Which areas of travelling do you believe need the most improvement when it comes to accessibility and disabled access?
I believe in order for disabled people to travel there first needs to be better accessibility information on websites, including hotels, public transport and attractions. By adding or improving access information on their websites these businesses will provide disabled people with the essential information they need which is then more likely to transfer into revenue. Having poor access information will turn away potential customers who have a disability because they won’t feel valued or catered for.
How easy is it to find a suitable accessible hotel in the UK?
It can be a challenge to find an accessible hotel as many hotels fail to have accessibility information on their website or even an access statement. It’s important that hotel websites have clear descriptions of their accessible rooms with photos of the bedroom and bathroom. Before making a reservation it’s always a good idea to contact the hotel to confirm its accessibility and whether it will meet your access needs.
Of course, planning ahead is a priority, are there any review websites/companies that are available to help with finding accessible hotels/tourist spots etc.?
There are many great websites to help you find accessible UK tourist attractions. My favourite is Euan’s Guide as it has lots of helpful reviews from other disabled people. Tourism for All and Limitless Travel are brilliant websites for information on accessible travel and hotels. And of course my website www.simplyemma.co.uk
Are there any essentials that you can’t travel without?
As a power wheelchair user, I can’t travel without my wheelchair charger. Without it, I’d have no way of charging my wheelchair and would, therefore, have no way of getting around. Another travel essential is my Radar Key and I take it with me at all times. This key allows me access to any locked accessible toilet around the UK. This saves me from having to search for the staff member who has the key wherever I go. Having my own radar key has come in particularly handy when stopping at service stations, shopping centres and tourist attractions throughout the UK. I’d highly recommend getting a radar key if you use accessible toilets.
When it comes to mobility aids, we have all the essential travel products to make holidaying that little bit easier in our walking and mobility section. If you have any tips for accessible travel tweet us @AbilitySStore or post on our Facebook