For the 11 million Britons with all types of disability, taking a holiday can present major challenges. A survey last week found that 87 per cent of respondents felt they had been prevented from travelling because of their disability.
But the extraordinary can-do spirit displayed at the London Paralympics has been an inspiration to us all and has given many disabled people more self-confidence and a feeling of empowerment.
‘There are many more opportunities for fantastic and exciting holidays for those with disabilities than you might realise,’ says Brian Seaman, of Tourism For All, a charity dedicated to making breaks more accessible to the disabled. It’s often about knowing where to turn. Here is a selection ideas.
A winter sun break
Enable Holidays (0871 222 4939, enableholidays.com) can offer breaks to 30 accessible hotels and self-catering properties in the Canaries. All accommodation has been thoroughly checked for accessibility. Adapted rooms are guaranteed when you book, and all necessary arrangements are made for airports and for transfers.
A cruise is an excellent choice for someone with mobility problems. Many ships, especially newer ones, are accessible for wheelchairs throughout their public areas and have adapted cabins at all grades. Excursions in adapted vehicles are often possible. To find the right cruise to suit your needs, turn to Accessible Travel & Leisure (01452 729739, accessibletravel. co.uk), which has won an award for its work in offering cruises to disabled people.
A tall ship voyage
The Jubilee Sailing Trust (023 8044 9108, jst.org.uk) operates two square-rigged tall ships designed to be crewed by people of all physical abilities. Voyages vary from short trips in UK and Irish waters to lengthy ocean crossings. The cost of the trips – from £525 per person for a week fullboard – is subsidised to make them more affordable.
Wings on Wheels (01945 871111, wingsonwheels.co.uk) specialises in accompanied tours for small groups of people with mobility issues. Destinations next year include New Zealand and Ecuador, and there’s still availability on a sightseeing holiday to Malaysia next month. The 12-night break costs from £2,600 per person.
The Rockies by rail
Can Be Done (020 8907 2400, canbedone.co.uk) has organised lots of long-distance rail holidays across North America for disabled clients. One of the best options is taking the famous Rocky Mountaineer through the Canadian Rockies. The train is wheelchair-accessible throughout. Overnight stays in suitable accommodation along the route can be arranged.
Fun on the ski slopes
Redpoint Holidays (0345 680 1214, redpoint.co.uk) arranges breaks for people with physical and learning disabilities, and their families, in the Austrian ski resort of Fugen. Special equipment is available along with lessons from qualified instructors.
An African safari
GoAfrica Safaris (00254 202 353 884, go-africa-safaris.com) specialises in safaris to Kenya and Tanzania for people with limited mobility. Tourists can travel in adapted vehicles with hoists. The company also gives advice on which lodges and tented camps to choose.
The Calvert Trust (01434 250232, calvert-trust.org.uk) has three activity centres in England – at Kielder in Northumberland, and Exmoor and the Lake District – geared to letting people with disabilities participate in outdoor adventures. At Kielder, visitors can try their hand at climbing, a high-ropes course, canoeing and sailing.