Organising a holiday with a disabled person can seem complicated: how to travel in a wheelchair without stress? How to choose an appropriate wheelchair facility? Which means of transport should be preferred? Is the sea or the mountains better for a disabled person? How to know if a museum is accessible? In this article we will give you all the information you need to organise a holiday for a disabled person in the best possible way and not find any nasty surprises during your travels!

The warm weather has finally arrived and with it, the desire to take time off for a weekend at the beach or in the mountains, or to plan a summer holiday. This is true for everyone, including people with disabilities. However, one holiday for a disabled person can be a very different reality, having to deal with a number of problems that are not always easy to solve or foresee. This is because, let's face it, organising a trip for people with mobility difficulties and really getting to know theaccessibility of different destinations is not easy, as tourist information is often insufficiently clear, if not non-existent. There are over six million disabled people in Italy who, when it comes time to go on holiday, have difficulty finding accommodation and adequate orthopaedic aids. 

The concept of accessibility from the point of view of legality is developed on the basis of regulations that are not always complied with, and it is also common for tourist information to indicate symbols of the degree of accessibility, but for disability associations to describe this information as confusing. The fact that a hotel has a wheelchair symbol means that it is accessible to people with mobility problems, but it does not mean that this tourist facility is adapted, because there are many types of functional disability. When it comes to people with disabilities, it is essential to organise one's holiday as well as possible so as not to encounter unpleasant and unexpected inconveniences once one arrives at one's destination. 

Hotels equipped for the disabled  

If you wish to stay in a hotel, If you have reduced mobility, the advice is to ask for some photographs of the adapted room, which must include those of the bathroom and also of the leisure areas, common areas, swimming pools and activity areas, which must be barrier-free. It is important to take these precautions before arriving because very often a hotel may have rooms adapted for the disabled, forgetting everything else. Before booking, therefore, make sure that the rest of the services are also guaranteed. 

The most important characteristics for a hotel to be considered accessible are:  

  • Access without steps
  • Automatic doors
  • Tables suitable for wheelchairs
  • Wide corridors
  • Lifts
  • Spacious rooms
  • Disabled-accessible bathrooms
  • Parking next to the entrance door. 

These precautions are in addition to the indispensable features of the barrier-free roomswhich are generally located on the ground or upper floors but close to the lift and are among the largest and most spacious available in the hotel; the door to the room must be sliding or opening outwards and the switches must be below 140 centimetres in height. Bathroomswith a sliding door or one that opens outwards, they must have sanitary facilities that are easy to approach from the front or from the side by a person in a wheelchair, there must be safety grab bars, and the shower enclosure must necessarily have an opening greater than 70 centimetres. Finally, it is advisable to ensure the presence of an alarm bell.

Finally, in the process of selecting a hotel suitable for the disabled, it is important that it is located in an area that is suitable for the disabled.ona accessible and close to public transport adequate, to avoid surprises when leaving the door and to ensure that we can move around outside the hotel easily and economically. What good is an accessible hotel if it is located in an area with slopes, stairs or cobblestones? 

Museums and attractions accessible for the disabled 

An accessible museum not only concerns the absence of architectural barriers, but also access to information and communication. Often, sensory disabled people are the most affected, forced not to be able to see or touch works of art, or not to be able to hear or read the accompanying guides. In this respect, it is advisable to find out in advance which museums or tourist attractions you would like to visit during your trip. 

What aspects should be considered before visiting a museum with a disabled person? 

  • Instead of steps, there should be ramps with a maximum slope of 12%
  • Ramps must be equipped with handrailas well as well-signposted and well-lit
  • Lifts they must be spacious enough for the passage of a wheelchair and equipped with a tattle switch
  • Also bathrooms are important: the washbasin should be footless to facilitate use by a person in a wheelchair and the toilet should be 40-50 cm high.  

During a journey it is always advisable to use non-cluttering aidstion to avoid problems with the surrounding space. Mia Medical Italia offers different types of solutions, such as the Slim wheelchair for narrow passageswhich can be rented for 1.25 euro per day. 

Means of transport 

If the disabled person or his or her family prefers to organise their own holiday, it is important to finding out about different means of transport to find out which is best suited to the needs of each traveller on the basis of different disabilities. Train, plane, bus or boat it doesn't matter, as long as the seat is booked in advance and the necessary assistance is requested to avoid unpleasant surprises. 

Disabled people and train travel 

Travelling by train with a disabled person is a comfortable and safe solution. Trenitalia guarantees all passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility a targeted assistance service during the entire train journey, including when boarding the carriage. It is possible to request assistance from the Italian Railway Network (RFI). This service includes reception on arrival at the station and subsequent accompaniment on the train, including a lift truck for suitcases and a wheelchair or a special luggage service.

Disabled people and air travel

In case of air travel with a disabled person, it is important to know that the assistance service is always free of charge and airlines cannot refuse a reservation by a person with motor or cognitive difficulties.

It is the traveller's own duty to inform them of their disability. In this case, a request for assistance must be made directly to the airline or travel agency. This request must necessarily be made at the time of booking the flight or no later than 2 days before the actual departure. Transporting a wheelchair or pramDepending on the airline, it can also be completely free of charge. Usually, however, electric wheelchairs are not allowed to board because they are equipped with a lithium battery, so you should also inquire about this.

It is important to be aware that not all companies follow the same policy, so it is necessary to find out the correct information on the company's website or by telephone. It is advisable to report all the necessary information that may be useful to the company in order to offer as complete a service as possible, for example it is useful to state whether the disabled person may need medical equipment, whether he or she carries medication, or whether he or she needs a guide dog for example. 

Disabled people and ship travel

People with reduced mobility can have all the information they need for the conditions of access to ships by consulting the website of the shipping company with which they intend to travel, or they can request information directly at the counter or travel agency where they purchase their tickets. All disabled persons have right to free assistance also in ports, both during embarkation and disembarkation, and during the voyage by ship. Again, it is important to request assistance at least 48 hours in advance from the shipping company when purchasing the ticket. In this way, the meeting point at the port and the meeting time will be communicated. If the company requires an accompanying person, it is important to know that the latter will be able to travel free of charge. 

Disabled people and bus travel

The disabled person has the right to travel under the same conditions as other people at no extra cost. It is important, therefore, to pay attention to this aspect as well in order to avoid possible fraud. In the case of long journeys, the person with reduced mobility can make use of a personal assistance service. In this case, too, it will be necessary to inform the company or travel agency of one's disability in order to be certain of the possibility of using lifting platforms, reserved seats and wheelchair blocks. 

Disabled people and car travel

If you choose to travel by car, be sure to choose the category that best suits your needs and those of the passenger. If you have to rent a carmake sure it is comfortable and has a large enough boot to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, if any. Before setting off, you should do all the necessary tests to avoid any problems during the journey. Make sure the car has everything you need by asking the company all the necessary questions! In addition to a wheelchair that fits in the car, a ramp to facilitate entry into the vehicle, or an electric hoist to facilitate the transfer of the person. 

Accessible beaches for the disabled: which one to choose? 

In recent years, more and more Italian municipalities have been trying to bring down the Architectural barriers in seaside resortsmaking them increasingly accessible to the disabled. 

An accessible beach presents:

  • Lidos organised with wider cabins
  • Walkways down to the sea to facilitate the passage of wheelchairs
  • ami and suitable toilets
  • The presence of trained personnel. 

Before going to the beach, therefore, it is always best to contact the lido to get all the necessary information for the disabled. If you choose a seaside resort, make sure that the beach and your accommodation are well communicated and that both can offer safe and comfortable mobility. 

And in the mountains? Where to go with a disabled person? 

The mountains might seem the least suitable location for a disabled person, but this is not the case at all. With a few little tricks, even a person with a disability can visit wonderful destinations and enjoy nature.
If you want to organise a holiday in the mountains with a disabled person, you should choose a location in the vicinity of an association which deals with social inclusion and the removal of architectural barriers.
In this way, it will be easy to organise walks and tours using appropriate means of transport and with the necessary assistance to move around safely. For more information, you can contact a travel agency directly, so that you can find out about all the services for the disabled offered in the various mountain resorts.
A word of advice? If you want to stay in Italy, the Dolomites are the perfect place for a relaxing holiday immersed in nature. Many routes have been cleared of obstacles over the years and made accessible to everyone. 

What aids are needed for a disabled person on holiday? 

Depending on the need, there are various technological aids for the disabled that can make both a disabled person's everyday life and their holidays better. For those suffering from a disease that impairs motor control, technology can come to the rescue and significantly improve travel experiences. 

Innovative walker

New technologies have made great strides in favour of mobility. One of the technological aids for disabled people with motor deficits is the walker, which adapts to a person's strength and is able to perceive obstacles, right up to models that interface with other devices and gradually adapt to the patient's needs. 

Electric wheelchair or scooter 

Electric wheelchairs or electric scooters are aids that give handicapped people greater mobility and independence. There are electric travel wheelchairs or electric systems that can be adapted to manual wheelchairs. The scooter can be an alternative to the electric wheelchair for greater autonomy and is also a means of independence for the disabled. 

Electric sick lift 

Here, this is the indispensable aid for the daily life of all non-ambulatory disabled people! It is necessary for all movements from inside to outside the vehicle, but especially in accommodation facilities. 

Avoiding nasty surprises

Let's face it, no holiday is perfect, but that is what makes them interesting and memorable! However, it is important to avoid unpleasant surprises by trying to organise yourself as best you can.

Here is a summary of everything to remember in order to leave with peace of mind: 

  • A good way to start is to inquire about a possible contribution made available by an entity, the municipality or the region. Depending on the proposal, you can apply for support or a subsidised rate for your holiday.
  • Choose your destination carefully. Make sure it is accessible and barrier-free, otherwise it could become more of a nightmare than a holiday, both for the disabled person and for those accompanying them.
  • Seek all possible information on the activities to be performed offered by the place of destination.
  • Be sure to contact all facilities you go to before you leave, such as hotels, museums, restaurants, swimming pools, etc.
  • Don't forget that, instead of organising everything yourself, you can contact associations involved in organising trips for people with disabilities. Tourism for non-self-sufficient people is widespread and offers many possibilities: from group holidays managed by caregivers and social workers to holidays for disabled people accompanied by family members.
  • Don't be afraid to be demanding and ask all the necessary questions. You are choosing a place to relax, aren't you? 

Remember that a holiday must be a holiday, which is why it is necessary to leave well prepared and with all the necessary information. Whatever solution you end up choosing, in the end the important thing is that your stay turns out to be pleasant, fun and above all affordable.

Bon voyage to all! 



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