I haven’t gone on holiday since my accident, is it difficult?
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, the thought of going on holidays can be a daunting one for you and those travelling with you. It’s normal to have concerns about being in an unfamiliar environment, coping with your symptoms or multiple mobility issues. It isn’t difficult to travel with a spinal cord injury but it will be different to previous holidays you have been on. So, being prepared and organised is vital.
Firstly, consider where you want to go and want you want from your holiday. Do you want to be by the sea or see the sights? Would you like to take part in sporting and activity events? Do you want self-catering or hotel accommodation? It’s your holiday and ultimately this is the best place to start.
Once you’ve selected your chosen destination, your next concern might be where you are going to stay. When you are used to your home, which accommodates and suits your injury needs, it can be easy to overlook the sorts of necessary facilities you may need. Of course, this is all dependent on the level of your injury. So it’s important to consider what will help in making your stay as stress free and enjoyable as possible.
Tips for holidaying with a spinal cord injury
To get a good idea of what you are looking for, reviews and advice from others can be a good place to start. Social media can be a great place for research, with many accessible travel blogs and forums available. If you have a particular accommodation or location in mind, Tripadvisor can be a good place to look for reviews by others.
Some travel companies cater specifically for people with disabilities. They would be happy to discuss a destination that suits your requirements. Travel companies and accessible accommodation providers include:
Wheelchair accessible accommodation in Ireland can be searched through Fáilte Ireland at discoverireland.com or through disabledfriendlyhotels.ie (Ireland and the UK).
Whatever you decide to do it is important to remember that you do not need to limit yourself to travel companies providing accessible holidays. If there is a particular holiday you would like to go on, any travel company should be happy to research whether your requirements can be met. Communication of your requirements is key.
How do I know if the accommodation is accessible?
Holiday brochures will inform you about wheelchair access. However, sometimes this can be inaccurate. As there is no international standard definition of ‘accessibility’, it is best that you communicate your needs directly to them. To do this, lay out all your requirements in writing and ask for written confirmation that these are available. If you are booking through a travel company, you can ask them to do this for you.
What about the different equipment I need?
When it comes to mobility equipment, there are different options available for things like shower chairs, commodes etc. When considering what equipment you need:
- Check with your travel agent/accommodation if they can provide the equipment you require as part of their service.
- If not, you may need to hire it so that it is available when you arrive. You can find out more information about this here and here.
Travel Insurance. What do I need?
It is essential to have travel insurance in place before you leave. Many travel companies only offer basic cover, so you should ensure that the policy meets your requirements. Before you buy your insurance, you must inform the company that you have a ‘pre-existing medical condition’. You may have to pay extra to have your SCI included but if you do not inform them of this, you will not be covered. Contact us at [email protected] if you would like information about insurance providers that cover pre-existing medical conditions.
What is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) lets you get healthcare in another EU or European Economic Area (EEA) state for free, or at a reduced cost. It covers you if you are on holiday, or on a short-term stay. A short-term stay is generally accepted as for a period of less than 3 months.
Application for the card is through the HSE website, which you can access HERE.
Additional information on the EHIC – European Health Insurance Card can be found on www.schengenvisainfo.com HERE.