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Day trips and going on holiday with reduced mobility

Whether you’re planning to take a break abroad or go on a day trip, there are things to consider if you have reduced mobility.
5 min read
In this article
Going on a day trip Holidays in the UK Planning a holiday abroad Healthcare abroad
Travel insurance for the over 65s   Travelling by air Travelling equipment

Going on a day trip

Going on a day trip can be a wonderful way to spend quality time with friends and family, particularly if you spend a lot of time indoors or are unable to travel independently. There are many options for day trips depending on your travel options, your local area and your individual needs.

If you have physical problems, consider the following questions to help you plan a successful day trip:

Checklist (ticks)
  • Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
  • Will there be access to disabled toilets?
  • Will any activities be suitable for your abilities?
  • Is this an outing everyone going along can enjoy?

Holidays in the UK

UK-based holidays are an excellent option if a holiday abroad is too expensive or impractical. They are a particularly good option if flight or train travel isn’t suitable.

There’s a broad range of adapted and accessible holiday homes around the UK, so it should be possible for you to find a suitable holiday cottage in most regions. Search online for ‘accessible holidays’ or ‘disabled access holidays’ and explore your options.

If you choose to stay in a hotel, most will have accessible rooms on the ground floor that can be booked in advance. However, always check that the facilities are suitable beforehand and find out if you need to bring extra items to make the stay as comfortable as possible.

If you’re acting as a carer for a loved one, it’s important to remember to take time for yourself as well. Respite holidays are an excellent way to take a break, and there are many different options available.

You can find detailed guidance on Gov.uk about transport support and rights for disabled people. And for information about discounts and concessions for older travellers, see our guide to travel perks and discounts for older people.

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Planning a holiday abroad

If you’re going abroad with family or friends, it’s important to consider the support you may both need during the holiday at every stage of the planning process.  

For example:

  • Are you staying in a hotel and, if so, are they able to provide a room that suits your needs?
  • If you choose a private cottage, is it easily accessible and is it adequately equipped?
  • If you can afford it, a cruise can be a good way to travel abroad. They usually have facilities specifically tailored to meet the needs of people in wheelchairs and this can take the stress out of flying and making personal arrangements.

Find expert tips from Which? on how to choose a cruise.

Healthcare abroad

It’s important to find out how the healthcare system is set up and paid for in the country that you’re travelling to. Also consider potential language barriers – will you be able to communicate effectively with the hospital staff in the case of an emergency?

While the UK was a member of the European Union, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gave UK residents access to local healthcare services while on holiday in Europe. 

After the UK leaves European Union from the beginning of January 2021, UK travellers who already have an EHIC can continue to use it until it expires. From that date you can also apply for a new UK Global Health Insurance Card, which will replace the EHIC.

Read more about how travel and holidays abroad will be affected after Brexit

Travel insurance for the over 65s  

Travel insurance is a must for any holiday. Check carefully what is and isn’t covered under the terms of your policy to avoid a nasty shock in the event of an emergency.

Which? Money has information about how to find travel insurance if you’re over the age of 65, with guidance for those with medical problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes:

Travelling by air

Another thing to research beforehand is your chosen airline and any associated regulations. This is particularly important if you’ll be travelling with a wheelchair.

Speak to the airline and the airport when you book to ensure they’ll be able to give you additional assistance when boarding the plane. It’s always good to be prepared when it comes to travelling, so don’t be afraid to ask.

In 2019 Which? and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) carried out an investigation into what air travel is really like for older and disabled travellers. The results showed that some airports still need to improve when it comes to accessibility.

The RiDC has more information about when and how to request assistance at an airport, and some of the key questions to consider before you travel.

Travelling equipment

Before you travel, make sure you have everything you need for your trip, whether you’re going away for a day or a week. It’s far better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Lightweight and portable equipment

It can be a good idea to purchase lightweight, portable versions of the products you use at home. Folding toilet, bathing and shower supports are available and may be necessary to ensure you can use hotel facilities.

Lightweight folding wheelchairs can be a good idea if you’re not able to walk long distances and will allow you to join in family activities.

Hiring travel equipment

Hiring equipment at your destination may be the easiest way to ensure you have the products you need while not having to transport larger items yourself. A number of companies offer rental disability equipment.

Even if you don’t normally use a wheelchair or scooter, you might want to consider renting one while on holiday, as there can often be more walking involved when you’re away.

Read about wheelchair hire schemes in our article on How to get a wheelchair.

Further reading

What is a RADAR key?

A Radar key allows disabled people to unlock accessible toilets all over the UK. Find out how to get a Radar key.

How to get a wheelchair

We explain the options for getting a wheelchair, from the NHS service and rental options to buying one privately.

Last updated: 09 Mar 2021