Going on holiday

Holidays in the UK

A holiday in the UK is generally much more straightforward than travelling abroad, particularly if you have never been to the country that you are planning to visit.

The facilities in UK hotels, caravan parks and other destinations tend to be similar across the country, and you will be more aware of what to expect.

However, do remember to 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.

How do I choose my accommodation?

The National Accessible Scheme (NAS) allows tourism providers to promote the facilities they offer to disabled guests and older visitors. It rates accommodation by four mobility categories, plus an exceptional accolade:

  • Category one – suitable for people able to climb a flight of stairs that have extra fittings to aid balance
  • Category two – suitable for someone who needs a wheelchair some of the time but can manage a maximum of three steps
  • Category three – suitable for people who depend on a wheelchair but who can transfer unaided from the wheelchair in a seated position
  • Category four – suitable for a person who depends on the use of a wheelchair in a seated position but needs help from a carer or a mechanical hoist to transfer.
  • Access exceptional – meets the requirements of independent wheelchair users or assisted wheelchair users and also fulfils more demanding requirements.

Each category has its own logo, which is displayed by accommodation providers that have been assessed. Further information about NAS can be found on Tourism for All’s website.

How do I get to my destination?

Coach

Several coach companies are working towards making their coaches accessible for people with disabilities.

Many National Express coaches now feature kneeling suspension, which makes boarding and alighting easier. Drivers and coach station staff will load and unload 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. If you give notice of your requirements when booking, you can get help with boarding and with folding wheelchairs.

Smaller coach companies may not have the facilities you require. Telephone them in advance and ask about boarding and alighting, the accessibility of on-board toilets and whether you will be able to take and use oxygen.

Trains

If you are thinking of travelling by train, get the leaflet Rail travel made easy, available from most staffed railway stations or online, or call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50. This tells you the minimum level of service you can expect throughout Britain’s rail network.

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.

Visit the Disability Onboard website for details of train companies’ passenger assistance service and how to book it. It also gives train travel tips, including detailed information about the layout and accessibility of every train station.

When you contact a train company, tell it where and when you want to travel; 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 do not know which company to contact, call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50.

A Disabled Persons’ Railcard is valid for 12 months and offers up to one third off a range of train tickets. You may be eligible and you can ask your local station for a form. Visit the Disabled Persons' Railcard website or call 08457 48 49 50 for more information.

Useful contacts

Disabled Persons’ Railcard
08457 48 49 50
www.disabled-persons-railcard.co.uk

National Rail Enquiries
08457 48 49 50

Details of passenger assistance
www.disability-onboard.co.uk

Ferries

If you plan to visit one of Britain’s islands or travel to or from Northern Ireland, you may 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 before and when you book, especially if you need oxygen. Don’t forget to ask for extra assistance from the crew before you travel.

Camping and caravanning

If you’re planning to go camping or caravanning, check access arrangements to sites. The Camping and Caravanning Club has three stages of accessibility. These are:

  • No accessible facilities
  • Accessible to those who can move around a little but not wheelchair accessible
  • Fully accessible including shower blocks and facilities.

A list of accessible campsites in the UK can be found on the Love Camping website or call 0845 527 3362.

A list of companies that sell adapted motorhomes or that can make adaptations to vehicles can be found on the Camping and Caravanning Club website.

Next: Holidays abroad >

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Last medically reviewed: March 2015. Due for review: March 2018

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.