If the thought of a proper holiday is too daunting, or simply not possible, a smaller scale solution could prove just as enjoyable for far less effort.
The UK is full of stunning places to visit, from the beautiful mountains of the Highlands, to the Dorset coast, and the wide variety of castles, galleries, countryside and shopping in between.
Finding places to go to that have all the facilities you need is easier than you might think. Here are a few suggestions for some wonderful day trip destinations.
English Heritage looks after most of the historic castles and monuments throughout England. Their website has an excellent facility which allows you to search attraction by area and type, and lets you see exactly what special facilities are available at each location.
The National Trust has a vast variety of properties and protected land throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Most of the sites have special facilities for disabled people and a good degree of access. Wherever possible, the Trust admits powered wheelchairs and similar small vehicles into its buildings and also provides manual wheelchairs at many locations. Self-drive and volunteer driven powered vehicles are also available at some larger gardens and parks.
Getting around the UK
Several specialists in travel for disabled people offer holidays featuring accessible coach transport (including ATS Travel, Can Be Done and Chalfont Line). It's advisable to check in advance, as none of the mainstream coach operators use accessible vehicles and on most coaches there are usually three or four high steps at the entrance; and more to the on-board toilet
The European Route Finding and Access Maps Programme (EURAMP) is a service for disabled motorists. Routes for UK journeys are compiled with directions to accessible RADAR toilets, overnight accommodation, cafés and filling stations where attended pump service is available.
There is currently less information available on facilities outside the UK; route maps for other parts of Europe are generally supplied only with details of accessible hotels and campsites, and accessible motorway service facilities on the German Autobahns.
In recent years accessibility on the rail network has become a major issue for disabled travellers. Before making any arrangements to travel by rail with a disabled person in a wheelchair, you should ensure that the stations you need to use; including anywhere you will need to change trains; have suitable access facilities and that assistance is available if required.
Disabled people can obtain Railcards for use on all the privatised train companies across the National Rail network. Disabled people travelling in their own wheelchair who do not hold a Railcard can obtain discounts on single and return fares for themselves and for one travelling companion.
Registered blind and partially sighted people can get the same discounts, but only if they travel with a companion. More details can be found on the Railcard website
Eurostar offers a Special Needs Passenger ticket for anyone in a wheelchair and the person accompanying them, and for any person accompanying a passenger who is registered blind
Discount for carers
Visitor attractions and leisure facilities may offer discounts to you and the person you care for. Get in touch with them before you go and find out what help they can offer you.
Many places won’t ask for proof that you are a carer or they may just ask you a few questions to check. Others will ask to see a copy of a letter that says which disability benefits the person you care for gets, or if you get Carer’s Allowance. As you might need to use this letter more than once make a copy of it rather than taking the original.
These are some of the discounts you might be able to get:
- Some local carer services have discount cards for carers registered with them that so they can get money off at local businesses. Find your local carer service.
- Your local council may offer discounts for leisure activities, such as swimming. Check what proof you need to take with you before you go.
- Carersmart — offers, benefits and discounts to carers and people with care needs
- Cinema CEA card — an annual card you pay for that gets a carer a free ticket when they accompany the person they care for.
- Cadw Wales — free admission for carers who are supporting the person they care for during their visit.
- English Heritage — free admission for carers who are supporting the person they care for during their visit.
- Forest live — free tickets for carers visiting with the person they care for.
- Historic Scotland — free admission for carers who are supporting the person they care for during their visit.
- Max card — free access to attractions for looked after children, children with complex needs, their friends and family
- Merlin annual pass — complimentary pass for carers
- National Trust have an ‘Access for all Admit One Card’ for carers which the person you care for has that allows you free entry if you are with them. See visitors with disabilities.