27 July 2022

Tips for going on a holiday with a disabled child

Going on holiday with children can be hard as you need to choose a destination that the whole family will enjoy, and you need to consider activities that the children can do during the holiday. If you have a disabled child many people think that it makes it even harder to organise and to go away to a destination you have always dreamed of visiting, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Just because you have a disabled child doesn’t mean you cannot go on holiday. There are many people who go on holiday within the UK and abroad with a disabled family member. This guide provides tips and advice to help parents plan a holiday with a disabled child.

Research the accommodation

It doesn’t matter if you are going on holiday in the UK or you are travelling abroad, before you book your accommodation you need to ask the place you are staying at about their accessibility.

If you are staying in a hotel, you will need to ask if they have stair lifts or a lift to all their floors and will need to find out if their other facilities are accessible. The last thing you want to do is to get over to your destination to find out that the restaurant in your hotel is not accessible to wheelchair users.

You should call to ask about the accessibility of the accommodation, its restaurants and other leisure facilities. If your child also suffers from visual or hearing limitations or has special dietary needs, then let the hotel know before you book so they can cater for you.

ALSO READ: Accessible staycation destinations in the UK

Contact the travel operator

Wheelchairs in an airport

No matter whether you are travelling via a train, ferry or plane with a disabled child you should tell them that your child is disabled and should request seating that gives you extra space. In airports, you can also ask security guards and staff to let you on the plane first and they will also help you with anything you need.

Many airports have electric carts that can transport your disabled child and members of your family to your gate. Not only is this fun for your child, but it means you can quickly and easily travel through the airport whilst avoiding the crowds in the process.

Train stations and ferry terminals will also have similar equipment and mobility aids to help transport disabled passengers.

Julie, who is the author of the Have Wheelchair Will Travel blog, says airlines try to make it as easy as possible for disabled travellers when flying: “Our experience has been that the airlines try to make it as easy as possible for a person/family with a wheelchair or person with a disability.”

Julie also says you should measure your child’s wheelchair before you travel: “Airlines now require measurements of wheelchairs so make sure you have the height, width, and weight of your chair when you phone to make your booking; it will save calling back again!

“We have always used our own wheelchair to the door of the aircraft. Once again you need to mention this at the time of booking, again at check in and it should be possible if necessary. Our son can then walk assisted to his seat but they will provide an aisle chair to your seat if needed.”

Organise travel insurance

If your child is disabled or has health issues, then travel insurance is a must. Travel insurance will protect you if for some reason you are unable to go on your dream holiday or if anything were to happen whilst you are away that has resulted in your child needing medical treatment.

Travel insurance can be as expensive or as cheap as you like and there are lots of resources online that you can use to compare the prices of different firms and policies.

My Family Our Needs, a site which shares advice for families with a disabled child, shares some tips about booking travel insurance: “The following companies offer insurance for disabled people:

“When booking insurance cover, make sure your child’s conditions are covered and that you discuss the policy in full, what is and isn’t covered, before you book it. You may also want to consider holiday cancellation cover.”

ALSO READ: What are the most accessible days out this summer?

Bring familiar toys on holiday

Wheelchair on a beach

Most children have their favourite toys and if yours do then you should consider bringing one or two of them along with you on your holiday.

Whether it is a teddy bear, doll or toy truck, packing one of your child’s favourite toys is a good idea as children who have disabilities can get real comfort from familiar objects like this, especially when they are in unfamiliar areas.

Think about what you pack

It is common for people to overpack when they are going on holiday and one good tip is to compile a packing list with all the essential items that you need. This can help you to avoid packing things that aren’t important and you don’t need. Your packing list will change depending on the type of holiday you are going on and the destination you are visiting (e.g. a hot country vs a country with a cold temperature).

Below is a list of essential items:

  • Wheelchair and walking aid (depending on what your child needs)
  • Passport and travel documentation
  • Medication
  • Jumpers and T-shirts
  • Trousers
  • Shorts
  • Sun protection
  • Hat, scarf and gloves (for cold countries)
  • Appropriate shoes and footwear
  • Raincoat
  • Toothbrush and other toiletries

Plan accessible holiday activities for your children

Accessible activities

You need to plan accessible holiday activities for your children to do whilst on holiday as you don’t want them to be bored during the trip.

By doing a bit of research you should be able to find activities that are accessible for disabled holidaymakers and you can then plan these into your itinerary. Many activity providers and attractions now cater for disabled visitors as they boast mobility aids such as straight and curved stairlifts on their premises and can adapt their offerings to suit wheelchair users and others with mobility issues.

Depending on what country you are visiting, there are many accessible activities you can enjoy on a holiday and below are some examples of the activities wheelchair users can do on holiday.

  • Safari – there are safaris which are accessible to wheelchair users
  • Cruises and boat trips – with the advancements in technology, wheelchair users can enjoy cruises and boat trips.
  • Water sports – activities such as kayaking and river rafting can be adapted for wheelchair users and people with mobility issues.
  • Horse riding – There are specially trained instructors that can provide lessons for guests with limited mobility.

ALSO READ: The UK’s most accessible areas of natural beauty

Tips for going on a holiday with a disabled child

To recap, here are the top tips for planning a holiday with a disabled child:

  • Research the accommodation
  • Contact the travel operator
  • Organise travel insurance
  • Bring familiar toys on holiday
  • Think about what you pack
  • Plan accessible holiday activities for your children

Organising a holiday for a disabled child might seem like a lot of work, but with these simple tips, you can plan a trip that will run smoothly and will be one that you and your whole family will enjoy.

If you want to find out more about our aid options and stairlift prices, then make sure you explore our website, or to find more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our news page.