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.

But do 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 4 mobility categories, plus an exceptional accolade.

Find out which category best describes 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 who need a wheelchair some of the time but can manage a maximum of 3 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 depends 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 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. View the logos on OpenBritain’s website.

Find out more information on accessible places to stay around the UK.

If you are a member of Tourism for All you can get personalised advice on accessible travelling in the UK and abroad. They charge an annual £25 membership fee.

How do I get to my destination?

Coach

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

Almost 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 offload 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 need help during your trip or need a wheelchair space on the coach, call National Express at least 36 hours before your journey to arrange it.

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.

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.

Trains

If you’re thinking of travelling by train, get the leaflet Rail travel made easy, available from most staffed railway stations or online. This tells you the minimum level of service you can expect throughout Britain’s rail network. You can also call National Rail Enquiries on 03457 48 49 50 or visit their website.

Translink operates trains within Northern Ireland. If you need assistance when using their services, call their contact centre on 028 9066 6630 24 hours before you travel so they can arrange assistance for you.

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 www.disability-onboard.co.uk 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 them 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 03457 48 49 50.

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. Visit www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk or call 03457 48 49 50 for more information.

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 help 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 3 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

Have a look at accessible campsites in the UK or call 0845 527 3362.

There’s also a list of companies that sell adapted motorhomes or that can make adaptations to vehicles. 

Useful contacts

Disabled Persons’ Railcard

03457 48 49 50

www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk

National Rail Enquiries

03457 48 49 50

www.nationalrail.co.uk

Translink contact centre

028 9066 6630

www.translink.co.uk

Details of passenger assistance

www.disability-onboard.co.uk

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Last medically reviewed: March 2018. Due for review: March 2021

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.