It’s a fact, Australians and Kiwis love to travel, but for some it can be more of a challenge than for others. Research has shown that more and more people are travelling with a disability. This has caused some logistical problems in a number of areas.
Because our population has seen a huge increase in young older people taking to the skies, the high seas, train or bus and even campervan, tourist operators have had to lift their game.
Recently, I returned from an awesome trip in New Zealand and this time it was off the beaten track. To say it was nothing short of magical would be an understatement. However, there are a number of things I’d like to comment on. I am going to rate these particular experiences out of ten and hopefully you’ll be able to find these tips useful.
1. The flight over
Flying from Brisbane to Auckland with Emirates on their A380 was nothing but a pure joy. All of the staff, from check-in to cabin crew were totally committed to ensuring that I was comfortable and able to relax. But there are a couple of things to note. You will need to check with your airline or travel provider as to its particular regulations around a person with a disability. You’ll find most extremely accommodating. My rating for the flight is 8/10.
2. Border security
On arrival, going through boarder security was effortless. The ground staff were there to meet me and to ensure that my wheelchair was ready for me to transfer into. It was efficient and smooth. They offered assistance when I needed it and were always at the ready. Customs and agriculture personnel were bright, cheery and nothing was a problem. There’s a special clearance area that allows you to go through. There’s a special clearance area that allows you to go through. My rating for border security is: 9/10.
3. Hiring a car
I had organised a rental car before leaving Brisbane and this again was effortless. The company are about 3 minutes from the arrival area and they brought the car to me. We then went to their depot and the manager assisted with putting my control on the vehicle. Now, if you are renting a car and going to drive, you will need to satisfy the company that you are capable. Normally in New Zealand and Australia, there are no real issues: My rating for renting a car is 9/10.
4. Organising accommodation
I also organised most of the accommodation before leaving. Personally, I would recommend you do this. Okay, you may have to call the hotel or motel directly, but this way you can talk with the person and explain your particular needs and requirements. This is a personal preference and one I find usually works well. Unfortunately, I encountered a few problems, as there are many interpretations of what constitutes an accessible room. Some hotels wanted to add an additional charge, which I found unacceptable. Over all, I would not rate the accommodation I stayed in, apart from one motel, which to be fair, I have stayed at in the past. That particular motel, I would rate 9/10, the rest well overall a very poor 4/10.
My reasons here are quite simply, items out of reach for a person in a wheelchair, almost impossible to access and a plastic garden chair in the shower in a 4.5-star resort. Staff were just not experienced and were uncomfortable with a person with a disability. Breakfast buffet was also pretty much out of reach, although I do have to say at one chain, staff were on hand and available to assist where they were needed. Their breakfast was pretty darn good, too! I gave them a rating of 7/10.
5. Be specific with your requests
When it comes to booking accommodation, you need to be very specific as to your requirements. Staff will do their very best to accommodate you. For example, you may require extra towels in the bathroom, or a raised seat for the toilet. There is nothing embarrassing about requesting your specific needs. If the hotel does not know, they cannot make your stay an enjoyable one. Also, when it comes to their shuttle services, most will go out of their way to assist and even provide alternate transport, but more often than not, you have to ask requesting your specific needs. If the hotel does not know, they cannot make your stay an enjoyable one. Also, when it comes to their shuttle services, most will go out of their way to assist and even provide alternate transport, but more often than not, you have to ask.
This is a broad overview and next time I will elaborate on some of the wonderful adventures you can have, getting off the beaten track while travelling with a disability.