Holidays in the UK
On this page we explore going on holiday in the UK with a lung condition. We cover choosing accommodation, getting to your destination and our handy checklist to make sure you’re fully prepared for an enjoyable break.
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The government is currently advising against all but essential travel. Stay up to date on the latest government guidance in our coronavirus hub.
A holiday in the UK is generally more straightforward than travelling abroad. You’ll be more aware of what to expect from accommodation and there are plenty of accessible ways to travel around the UK, even without a car.
You should check things that are important for you when choosing your holiday accommodation in the UK. For example:
- If you have mobility problems or get breathless: are there lifts or ramps that make the accommodation accessible?
- Is the accommodation easy to get to? – Is it on a bus route? Is it on a steep road?
- If you use oxygen, will the accommodation supplier allow you to use oxygen? Don’t assume that all will.
Many accommodation search engines give you the option to search for properties with disabled access and facilities. Remember though that the facilities offered will differ from property to property. Be sure to call ahead to find out if what’s offered meets your needs.
Tourism for All helps you find accessible destinations and places to stay in the UK. They charge an annual £25 membership fee.
National Accessible Scheme (NAS)
The National Accessible Scheme (NAS) helps you find accommodation in England suited to your needs and allows accommodation sites to promote the facilities they offer to disabled guests and older visitors.
The NAS assesses and places accommodation providers into categories. Each category has its own logo, which is displayed by providers that have been assessed. Find out which category best suits you:
- Older and less mobile guests: suitable if you are able to climb a flight of stairs, but banisters or grip handles would make this easier
- Part-time wheelchair access: suitable if you need a wheelchair some of the time but can manage a maximum of three steps
- Independent wheelchair users: suitable if you depend on a wheelchair, but can transfer unaided from the wheelchair in a seated position
- Assisted wheelchair user: suitable if you depend on the use of a wheelchair in a seated position, but need help from a carer or a mechanical hoist to transfer
- Access exceptional: meets the requirements of ‘independent wheelchair user’ or ‘assisted wheelchair user’ (the categories above), while also fulfilling more demanding requirements.
You can read more about the different categories, see their logos and view accommodation in the NAS scheme on the Visit England website.
Camping and caravanning
If you’re planning to go camping or caravanning, check access arrangements to sites. The Camping and Caravanning Club has three accessibility categories:
- no accessible facilities
- accessible to those who can move around a little, but not wheelchair accessible
- fully accessible including shower blocks and facilities.
Travelling around the UK without a car is becoming increasingly accessible for everyone. Below, we explain some of the different ways you can get around. The key thing for all methods of transport is to get in touch with the transport provider before you travel, to make sure they offer everything you need to make your journey safe and enjoyable.
Across the UK, it’s compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport, unless you are exempt. Take a look at our webpage and stay up to date with the guidance on face coverings.
Several coach companies are working towards making their coaches accessible for people with disabilities.
All National Express coaches now feature a passenger lift which makes getting on and off board easier. Drivers and coach station staff will load and off load your luggage to and from the coach if items weigh less than 20kg. Most on-board toilet facilities are now level with the coach seating.
You don’t need to book in advance if you’re a wheelchair user, but before you travel National Express will carry out a check to make sure they can provide everything you need for your journey. This includes making sure the stops you wish to board and alight the coach at are accessible stops, your wheelchair is compatible with the space on the coach and that the coach isn’t already fully booked. It’s recommended you call at least 36 hours in advance to give time to carry out these checks. The National Express Assistance Travel Team can be contacted on 03717 81 81 81, 9am - 5pm 7 days a week.
Translink, the public transport provider in Northern Ireland, operates coaches that are usually wheelchair friendly. Look at their access guide for more information on their services for people with disabilities or call their contact centre on 028 9066 6630 to arrange assistance.
Traveline Cymru has useful information about accessible travel in Wales, to help you travel as comfortably and safely as possible. Take a look online, or call 0800 464 0000 for further advice and support.
Smaller coach companies may not have the facilities you require. Phone them in advance and ask about getting on and off board, the accessibility of on-board toilets and if you can take and use oxygen on board.
Rail travel is becoming increasingly accessible to everyone. Different train companies have different policies regarding people with disabilities, so plan your route in advance and find out which companies’ trains you need. All companies offer assistance to customers if pre-booked.
When you contact a train company, tell them where and when you want to travel; about your disability; how you intend to get to and from the station; whether you are travelling alone or with a companion or group, and whether you need a wheelchair. If you don’t know which company to contact, get in touch with National Rail or call 03457 48 49 50.
ScotRail is dedicated to helping people with reduced mobility travel comfortably and safely. They aim to provide assistance to anyone who needs help when travelling, whether this has been booked in advance or not. Find out more on the ScotRail website.
A Disabled Persons’ Railcard is valid for 12 months and offers up to one third off a range of train tickets. If you are travelling with another adult, they will also be eligible for this discount. You can apply online or pick up an application form from your local station.
If you plan to visit one of Britain’s islands or travel to or from Northern Ireland, you can go by ferry. Many ferry companies have lifts, toilets and wheelchair facilities and some can supply wheelchairs at terminals. A few have special cabins for disabled people or offer discounts. Check with the ferry company before you book, especially if you need oxygen. Don’t forget to ask for extra help from the crew before you travel.
Travelling by car is one of the simplest ways to travel around the UK. But it’s still a good idea to plan ahead as there may be things you need to think about. How will I cope with a long car journey? Is there parking nearby? Think about these things before you set off and make sure you plan regular stops. If you’re travelling with oxygen in your car make sure you’re carrying it safely and securely.
If you’re travelling a long distance in the UK, you might choose to fly. Your lung condition doesn’t necessarily prevent you from flying. Most people with a lung condition, even if they use oxygen, can travel on planes.
If you do fly, it’s a good idea to discuss your travel plans with your doctor and to plan ahead. Take a look at our detailed information on flying with a lung condition.
Download our helpful checklist (PDF, 160KB) to make sure you’re fully prepared for an enjoyable holiday!