Now that 2013 has arrived, there’s one thing playing on our minds – where to go for this year’s holiday? We round up some of the best accessible destinations for you to try out this year…
Just as quickly as it rolled around, the festivities of the Christmas season are behind us and we’ve got a brand new year to contend with.
The third Monday in January is labelled ‘blue Monday’ by experts – the most depressing day of the year. The combination of the post-Christmas blues, dark mornings and even darker nights and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills brings on a collective mood slump from the public.
Rather than letting blue Monday get the better of you, you could use it as an excuse to start planning the rest of your year. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery to lift your spirits. There are scores of fantastic, fully-accessible holiday destinations dotted across the globe to tempt you away from the general misery of January in Britain.
BRING ME SUNSHINE…
An instant mood-brightener comes in the form of some good old-fashioned vitamin D. The essential nutrient is easy to get hold of – with a bit of sun! A sunshine break could be just the ticket to lift your mood. Whether you go for a week in tourist favourite Tenerife or fortnight in picturesque Crete, a Mediterranean cruise or pyramid-spotting in Egypt, there’s loads to choose from – and it’s more accessible than you’d think!
Lots of beaches have been given makeovers to incorporate decking for those who aren’t as steady on their feet, while others offer special beach wheelchairs with large wheels. Some resorts offer these for free, while others might charge a small fee. Hotels, too, are tuning in to access, with many offering hoists in their pools and more and more accessible rooms and bathrooms being installed. Cruises aren’t out of the question either – lots of ships now have fantastic access for disabled passengers, and specialists operators, such as Accessible Travel and Leisure (www.accessibletravel.co.uk / 01452 729 739), have exciting excursions lined up which take different access needs into account.
CLOSER TO HOME
Escaping your everyday life doesn’t have to mean kicking back on a beach by the Med – the UK is home to lots of holiday-appropriate spots too. While you might not be in for the weather that Spain, Greece and Portugal can offer, the UK has dozens of exciting cities, quaint villages and interesting tourist hot spots to explore.
The hustle and bustle of London got much more accessible for disabled tourists since the Paralympic Games, while Glasgow is undergoing a similar access overhaul on the run up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. From cities with fascinating histories like York, Belfast and Edinburgh to huge attractions such as Alton Towers, Lego Land and Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, there is so much to explore right on our door step. With the UK’s access laws, hotels are becoming more accessible, while public transport has strict guidelines to fit too. There’s also the bonus of not needing to sort out travel insurance for UK citizens – the NHS will cover you wherever you are in Britain. Check out the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain (www.accessibleguide.co.uk) for ideas of where you could go.
Far-flung exotic locations aren’t outside the realm of possibility either. Specialist travel agents Can Be Done offer a range of tailor-made trips to incredible destinations that’ll meet your requirements. The company’s specialist advisors will be able to help you out by planning an itinerary that meets all of your requirements.
You could hire a specially-adapted vehicle to explore eastern Canada, taking in Toronto, Montreal, Ottowa and even Niagara Falls. What about an adventure in India, going from cities to ramshackle villages, with fascinating sights like the Taj Mahal? Or maybe you’re after a slice of paradise – Fiji could be just the tropical hot spot for you! Get in touch with the Can Be Done team through the website at www.canbedone.co.uk or call 020 8907 2400. If you want to take a walk on the wild side, you could be in luck – lots of tour operators, such as 2by2 Holidays (www.2by2holidays.co.uk / 01582 766 122), now offer fully accessible safari trips in Africa. Climb aboard the adapted vehicle to get up close with giraffes, lions, rhinos and more!
You don’t have to stick to disability specialist travel agents of course – more and more big-name companies have trained teams in place who can help you book the holiday of your dreams and make sure everything fits your access needs at the time time. Co-operative Travel and Virgin Holidays, for instance, both have terrific reputations among disabled tourists. The most important thing is to shop around, ask questions, double and triple check that all of your requirements will be met and, most importantly, make sure you get the best deal. Additional requirements such as seating requests on a plane, travel chairs and medical equipment hire may have an additional cost too, so make sure you discuss all of this with your travel agent before you book anything.
We’ve only pinpointed a few must-see points on the globe – there’s so much more to check out! So start making enquiries now – with a bit of forward planning and support, the world really is your oyster…
Here’s just a selection of the many travel agents offering accessible holidays…
01582 766 122
Accessible Travel and Leisure
01452 729 739
020 8907 2400
0845 266 9228
If you need help with planning your break, check out the companies below…
Tourism for All
0845 124 9971
A brilliant resource for people wanting to travel throughout the UK and overseas.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Search for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s section for disabled travellers – it is full of information for people planning on going overseas, from tips on travelling with an assistance dog to making sure you have the right medical cover to how the Blue Badge scheme works overseas.
Flying With Disability
Boarding a plane for hours can seem daunting – this handy website covers everything you need to think of.
Enable, Jan/Feb 2013