I haven’t gone on holiday since my accident, is it difficult?
After a spinal cord injury the thought of going on holidays can be a daunting one. It’s normal to have concerns about being in an unfamiliar environment, coping with your symptoms, or mobility issues on transportation. Whether you plan a holiday at home or abroad, it is something which should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of a spinal cord injury and with the right supports and planning, your holiday is possible.
Firstly, It isn’t difficult to travel with a spinal cord injury but it will be different to previous holidays so being prepared and organised is important.
Consider where you want to go and want you want from a holiday. Do you want to be by the sea or see the sights? Take part in sporting and activity events? Or, 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’re 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 assist to make your stay as stress free and enjoyable as possible.
Tips for holidays
To get a good idea of what you are looking for, reviews and advice from others can be a good place to start. Head over to our stories section to hear about some of the travels and adventures people with spinal injuries have explored.
Social media can be a good place to research with many accessible travel blogs and forums now available.
If you have a particular accommodation or location in mind, trip advisor can be a good place to look for reviews by others.
Some travel companies cater specifically for people with disabilities and would be happy to discuss a destination that suits your requirements.
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. Please see our sidebar links for some popular Travel websites with accessibility in mind.
How do I know if the accommodation is accessible?
Holiday brochures will inform you about wheelchair access, but 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?
There are different options with regard to mobility equipment when on holiday such as shower chairs, commodes etc.
1. Check with your Travel Agent / Accommodation if they can provide the equipment you require as part of their service.
2. If not, you may need to hire it to be 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 travel. Many travel companies only offer basic cover so you should be sure 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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like information about insurance providers who cover pre-existing medical conditions.
What is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
The EHIC enables you to get necessary healthcare free of charge while on a temporary stay in all of the countries in the European Economic Area. Application for the card is through the HSE website here