As I have recently returned from my summer holiday, I thought it would be beneficial to write a post which focuses on accessible travel. This may seem unrelated to education, but more and more programmes of study are including a study trip as part of the course requirements. For example, my Masters included an international study trip to Toulouse in France which took place at the end of the 2nd semester. I feel it is important to organize any additional supports you may require ahead of time. Furthermore, from my experience, you should try and be as specific as you can when requesting support. Also, if you are requesting the support from your college/university, double and triple check that they have the supports in place for your study trip long before your departure date. I have been lucky enough to travel to the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France. In all destinations I have travelled to, each have been accessible to a greater or lesser extent. I must say, a lot of countries have supports for those with a disability already in place, and it is just a case of asking for them.
Requesting Airport Assistance:
Asking for assistance at your airport of choice is pretty straight forward. When you are booking your flights, online or with a travel agent, you can specify that you require additional assistance when you are at the airport. This assistance can take different forms. For example, you can get someone to accompany you from the check-in desk to the boarding gate, or you can be guided directly from the desk to the airplane’s door. Additionally, you can request to be transported to the boarding gate or aircraft door in a wheelchair. In the case of opting for a wheelchair, you are whisked through the airport by a member of staff, and I think it is a very efficient assistance for someone with mobility difficulties; like myself. From my experience the support you request at your departing airport is mirrored in the destination airport automatically. However, if you would like to double check this with the cabin crew, I’m sure they would be happy to check for you. If you find it difficult to request the required support at the time of booking, you can always mention it at the check-in desk and the staff member you speak to can help you with the required assistance. Also, if you do get assistance to the boarding gate or airplane door, don’t be offended if you are told you must be the last person to board. The airport staff are not being difficult, there is a health and safety policy concerning airplanes refueling and persons with a disability boarding. To find out more about the accessibility of Dublin Airport, you can visit this link.
Requesting Rail Assistance:
I should say that I have never requested assistance on rail ahead of time, but it is possible to do so. To request support before you travel, you should make contact with your local station and they will be happy to help. When travelling via rail, I have been assisted by members of staff at the station (i.e. linking me off the train into the station), and ramps have been put in place to help me get on and off the train. Some stations are bigger than others, so it is very important to plan ahead and make sure that the supports you need are in place at the time of travel. More information regarding the accessibility of Irish Rail can be found at this link.
Requesting Accommodation Assistance:
By accommodation assistance, I mean accessible accommodation. In my experience, hotels are normally most likely to have a room which is accessible. Such rooms in a hotel are usually called Disabled Access Rooms, and they are generally large with a bathroom which can accommodate a wheelchair. It is best to specify whether you would like an accessible hotel room or not. I would strongly recommend that you double and triple check that you have been given an accessible room when you are checking in. It is very common that hotel rooms are mixed up all the time regardless of the existence of a disability. For example, on my most recent hotel stay, I was given a room which was not at all accessible in any way. After requesting the room which I originally booked, I was changed to the correct room. To get an idea of what can be provided by an accessible hotel, visit this link to the Crown Plaza Dublin.
Requesting Transfer Assistance:
A transfer is generally the term applied to transport from an airport/train station to your accommodation. I should say I have only used transfers which were not necessary accessible, but they did meet my needs at the time. If you are booking a package holiday via a travel agent or tour operator, you will have someone with whom you can discuss your transport options. If you have booked your air/rail and accommodation separately, you should conduct a little research regarding the transportation options available to you. The accessibility of transport options will vary from destination to destination, but there is generally a varied selection of taxis, buses and trains present at and/or around the airport. There will be an information desk at the airport you are travelling to, and they should be able to help you with your transport requirements. Also, it may be possible to arrange transport through your hotel/accommodation directly.
I hope the above information is of some benefit to you, and if you have any questions please get in touch
I believe Holiday by Madonna is the song which best suits the subject matter of this post.