‘To everyone in the travel industry, read this now’, feels like a bit of a dramatic command, a bit OTT, a bit threatening even? Well as titles go it is in fact one of the most important I’ve penned in a long while. Every now and then you read something that makes you sit up and shout “yes !! Here’s someone who gets it, who understands what I’ve been saying for, well, ages and ages…..”
Here is someone whose been there, made, then printed, then sold the bloomin T shirt and TOTALLY gets why for disabled people travel is both a joy but sadly, can also be a nightmare of anxiety and panic…..yes panic.
PLEASE READ CARRIE ANN’S PIECE IN THE BRILLIANT DISABILITY HORIZONS USING THE LINK BELOW BUT BEFORE YOU DO, READ ON TO UNDERSTAND WHY THIS AMAZING BIT OF TRAVEL WRITING BY CARRIE ANN IS JUST SO IMPORTANT FOR SO MANY PEOPLE
Travel Agents, hotel staff, airline booking folk, entertainment venues, public buildings, concert arena’s etc etc etc. Read here why travel for many disabled people is still such a nerve wracking, anxious and honestly, quite scary thing. It shouldn’t be like this in 2017 but here’s the thing, IT STILL IS !!
Carrie Ann talks of being a planner, a list person, someone who is actually a hugely experienced traveler so it should all be a worry-free smooth and relaxed experience, yes ? Well no, accessible travel should be like that but all too often very avoidable mistakes and carelessness mix with mis-information and lack of knowledge, to produce a ruined travel experience and it’s knowing that can, and still does, happen, that is a cause of such disappointing stress. Planning accessible travel is in my experience not the fun thing it is for many when organizing their holiday.
Consider this, we have just (after a long set of email exchanges) recently had a refund off one of the alleged “best” quality hotel chains in the world. Why ? Because after exhaustive personal checks by our superb agent, we arrived to find my standard powerchair couldn’t get in the ‘accessible wet room’ properly. I couldn’t use the loo and shut the door, couldn’t turn the chair, couldn’t shower as there wasn’t a safe shower seat. Oh and the room was crammed with furniture and too small, despite our having explained what type of accessible room we needed. When faced with us quickly reappearing back at the reception desk the senior member of staff on the desk told us, twice, that “our accessible wet room bedrooms are really meant for disabled people who can get out of their chairs and walk…..” This in a hotel charging £700 for two nights in a suburb of one of the greatest cities on earth.
Just to further back up Carrie Ann’s wonderful honesty. My wife and I planned our honeymoon with meticulous detail. The villa in Portugal was, we were assured, repeatedly, “very private”. When we got there the pool was in the front garden next to a road ! Our airline, or rather the airport baggage handlers smashed one wheel up of my then specialist one-arm use wheelchair by we believe dropping it off the baggage conveyor. But they then placed it in the hold for us to find at Faro airport where a hugely upset aircraft captain personally explained to us how our honeymoon was off to a terrible start.
Is it any wonder Carrie Ann’s amazingly accurate description of the anxiety you can feel when traveling as a disabled person will chime with many many readers of Disability Horizons, her new website and hopefully this very new and not so shiny blog platform.
BUT……and this is such an important BUT……just like anyone, when things go as you pay for them to go, when agents get it right and go the extra mile to ensure all is right, when hotel and airline staff do something lovely and thoughtful to ease your journey and overcome a problem, when you see the sights that everyone else can see and experience that sunset, that amazing view, meal, or architecture that takes your breath away – well the joy is just the same, the smile exactly as it is for anyone, and all the planning and yes even the anxiety, is worth it for the excitement of traveling to new places and sharing that with those you love.
So please, to all those in the travel industry, read this description of how it can be for some of your customers, why so many of us identify at least in part with Carrie Ann’s searingly honest explanation of just how daunting travel can be for those who really need you to be spot on with your information, your research, your advice, your, well, everything actually. Why ? because the more you get it right, the less some of us will have to feel anxious or close to panic as we plan what should be a fun filled bit of travel to far flung places, or even just a local rail journey !
Thanks Carrie Ann, when you wrote this piece you spoke for so many who have experienced those same feelings of anxiety and speaking up like this will help a lot of people face the challenges and not avoid travel, whilst hopefully also understanding that there’s lots you can do to minimize the worry and just focus on the joy of travel !
READ CARRIE ANN’s PIECE HERE :