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Dubai Trip Pt 3 – My stay in Dubai

Dubai

After landing at Dubai International Airport we headed to the hotel. Upon arrival, we eagerly checked in and then decided to have a look around the hotel – the Double Tree by Hilton The Walk on Jumeriah Beach. Once we had retired to our room on the first evening, we decided to order room service.

The room was fantastic and very luxurious with two bedrooms, each with a balcony and four bathrooms, one of which was easily accessible with a roll in shower. In a similar way, the hotel had also been designed impeccable with the remainder of the hotel being fully accessible.

Dubai, in recent years have really been developed and this can be seen from the the large number of skyscrapers that dominate the skyline while the infrastructure is superb with their highways consisting of six lanes.

When it came to getting around, we opted for taxis which are reasonably priced, however, we did take the opportunity to go for a stroll down the Walk on Jumeirah Beach. Unfortunately, their pavements do not have any drop kerbs and so, it meant that I was required to do a lot of back wheel balance in order to negotiate the curbs while I did require assistance to get back onto the pavement. As a wheelchair user, I would recommend that you avoid the pavements and use a taxi as they are cheap enough to get around. Despite the pavements being an obstacle, most of the hotels, malls and restaurants that we frequented were wheelchair friendly with accessible toilets.

I found that the people were helpful, in particular taxi drivers and hotel staff and in many cases they were almost too helpful and would often overlook the fact that I made it clear that I did not need assistance. Perhaps they assumed that I was not capable of doing things for myself such as getting in and out of a taxi or transferring to and from a sofa.

When it came to the price of staying in Dubai, I found it to be expensive with alcohol being extremely expensive. I chose to eat in expensive restaurants after following recommendations and we found that the service and experience was second to none and so, I have no complaints there. We ate at Nobu at the Atlantis which was a fantastic meal but again, it was in the higher bracket of prices, the Armani Restaurant in the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) which came with spectacular views, Thiptara Restaurant which was equally as good as we sat alongside a fountain display – the food here was spectacular and was actually reasonably priced so I would recommend eating there. Along with these top restaurants, I also ate at the Brazilian Rodizio in downtown Dubai and a number of other restaurants during my ten day stay in Dubai.

I chose to sample some shopping at the Dubai Mall and the sheer size of it left me amazed as there is so much to do there besides shopping such as skiing and eating out.

I had an amazing time in Dubai but like most things, everything must end and it was time to return to England. Our flight was scheduled for 2pm local time and so, we headed to Dubai International and checked in our luggage where I was appointed an assistant who took my family and myself through customs and security, which had to include a trip to duty free to make a few purchases.

I was first again to board the plane and the flight home was smooth, comfortable and easy with no turbulence. As we were coming in to land, we could see fireworks over London as it was Bonfire Night which was a great way to return home from a wonderful trip.

The question is, would I recommend Dubai to a wheelchair user? Absolutely. It is an amazing city with an amazing urban scenery that will blow you away. However, don’t spend too long looking up at the skyscrapers because you will need to keep an eye on those pavements with no drop kerbs if you are a wheelchair user.

Please email me at info@disability.blog to share any experiences, discuss or suggest any topic you would like to see on my website disabilitychat.blog

 

Dubai Trip – part 2 – Airport & Flight

Disabled-Traveller

Going abroad as a disabled-traveller means that I need to think about my entire luggage as well as any equipment that I require. Upon heading to the airport, I needed to plan and think about how I was going to get it all to the airport. The thing I had to consider was the fact that I wasn’t travelling alone which meant even more luggage! With this amount, I should have had two taxis or even two cars to take me to the airport but this was not necessary because I used Heathrow Baggage Transfers (https://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/terminal-facilities-and-services/baggage-delivery). The great thing about this service is that they collect your baggage from your chosen destination and take it to the airport that you are travelling from which meant that I did not need two vehicles to get to the airport. I also booked the same service for the trip home, which meant that they took my luggage back home. What also made this service worthwhile is the fact that it was cheaper than paying for two taxis.

As our flight was scheduled to leave around midday the following day, we chose to stay at a hotel located close to the airport as we did not like the idea of having to rush the next morning. We chose the Thistle Hotel, which is located near Terminal 5. The hotel was perfectly located as it gave me easy access to the futuristic driver-less pods, which take you straight to Terminal 5. However, the hotel is quite dated and there are no lifts or accessible rooms with the bathroom being difficult to move around in a wheelchair. The Restaurant and Bar on the ground floor also offered us great views of the runway although I could not watch my plane land as I was unable to get to the upstairs area due to a lack of lifts. What I also noticed is that parking at the hotel can become a little chaotic so I advise you to give yourself time and prepare to wait!

Upon waking up on the morning of our flight, we chose to give breakfast a miss and instead chose to head for the driver-less pods to transport us to the terminal. The journey to the terminal takes about 5 minutes and it’s wheelchair accessible. Once at the terminal, we checked in all of our baggage and my wheelchair was tagged although I specified that I wanted, and needed to keep it until I got to the plane. This wasn’t a problem. As a disabled-traveller I was able to board the plane first, which has its benefits as it meant that I had the pick of overhead luggage space! Once I got to the plane doors, I was transferred onto an aisle wheelchair which is small and uncomfortable but it is merely a means to getting onto the plane so there were no complaints there. For the flight itself, I chose to take my gel cushion from my wheelchair so I could use it as a footrest in order to achieve pressure relief. On the other side I was the last to come off the plane. But this wasn’t so bad, as I was escorted through a special disabled-traveller queue which had no one queuing, so I was whizzed through immigration and on to collect my suitcases, which was ready to be collected when I arrived at the baggage collection……even better!  I must say, the service at Dubai International Airport was fantastic. My family and I were looked after from when I was taken off the plane all through immigration and baggage hall, and ensuring my family and I got into a taxi.

Prior to the flight, the lovely British Airways Rep made a call to the Double Tree Hilton Jumeirah Beach, to ensure that I was given a fully accessible room, which gave me complete peace of mind. As a disabled-traveller using a wheelchair, I recommend you get your chair insured (an absolute must!), either as part of your travel insurance or done separately. I ensured that my wheelchair was insured as part of my yearly travel insurance and so, all that was left for me to do was sit back, smile and dream of the warm sunshine in Dubai.

Find out more in Part 3 about my stay in Dubai.

Please email me at info@disability.blog to share any experiences (good/bad) or to discuss or suggest any topic you would like to see on my website disabilitychat.blog

Thank you & kind regards

My Dubai trip – Part 1 Preparation

disabled traveller

Since I became paralysed from the chest down following an accident earlier this year, I have not left the UK. I am wheelchair bound and so, my life is restricted in some ways and of course, deciding to go abroad requires an element of prior preparation but I decided that it was time to look at travelling and so, I made the decision to begin my preparation by contacting a number of airlines to find out more about how they can assist me as a disabled traveller.

There were a number of reasons for the call, the first was to put my mind at ease and the second was to actually find out what they do to ensure my safety. I phoned a number of airlines – British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and TUI (previously known as Thomson Airways) and posed a couple of questions to them as I needed to be sure before I went ahead and parted with my cash.

The first question I had was “What happens to travellers with disabilities during an emergency aircraft evacuation?”.

The second question “Is there a personalised ‘on board’ safety briefing for those passengers who have a disability as I assume that cabin crews are required to provide this to any person who is unable to evacuate the aircraft unassisted?”

Now, many people may think that these seem like questions that are never asked but they should be and there is a reason why I asked them, however, the response to the first question was not what I expected. The only airline to respond was British Airways and they explained that should I be unable to reach an emergency exit unaided, I would be required to travel with a safety assistant. The safety assistant would then be given the job of ensuring I can vacate the aircraft safely and quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Again, the second question was only answered by British Airways. They explained the safety brief is the same for everyone on the plane. However, if there was anything that required further explaining, then the cabin crew are more than happy to talk through it. It was re-assuring to know that they were willing to go through the safety brief with me.

Following on from my questions and after having only one response, I decide to book my flight with British Airways. Knowing that I was flying with an airline that at least responded and explained how I can travel as a disabled traveller eased my concerns by a considerable amount.

With the holiday preparation out of the way and tickets booked safe in the knowledge that I knew how to remain safe when flying should there be an emergency evacuation, I made my way to Heathrow Airport and the flight taking me to Dubai. I felt that this was an important part of the journey and had to find out the answers to my questions as a disabled traveller.

To find out more check out Part 2 – My Experience at Heathrow Airport and the Flight to Dubai.

Please email me at info@disability.blog to share any experiences (good/bad) or to discuss or suggest any topic you would like to see on my website disabilitychat.blog

Thank you & kind regards

Accessible Holidays

Accessible Holidays

For wheelchair users, it may seem as though it is not worth the hassle to take a holiday. There may be concerns about getting around the airport, getting to the plane, having problems on the plane and even having difficulty with the chosen hotel. However, there is no need for concern because airlines and hotels around the world are now prepared to help and assist wheelchair users so they can also enjoy accessible holidays in the same way as anyone else.

It is important that the whole process of going on accessible holidays is smooth and efficient as well as comfortable for wheelchair users because a holiday should be exactly that. Of course, in the world that we live in, there are some airlines that are better than others and some hotels that are better than others but that is something that we all have to deal with. Wheelchair user-friendly hotels can be found across Europe and the USA in places such as Florida, the Canaries, Portugal, Spain and many parts of France and Italy.

When it comes to airlines whether you are travelling short-haul or long haul it is important to find out what airlines are best for you. There is assistance available to get around the airport but what do these airlines offer?

There are many short-haul airlines but Easyjet is one of the airlines that comes out on top. They will arrange for assistance so you can get to the plane and this will include getting onto the plane while they will make the flight as comfortable as possible. However, these are short-haul flights and so, many other short-haul airlines will offer something similar.

If you are planning to fly long haul then the airlines will offer a lot more. Qantas offer the complete all-round service and they will lift you in and out of your seat but Virgin seem to have everything in place and they have specially adapted toilets for long-haul flights which can make travelling a lot easier.

When it comes to finding accommodation things are a lot easier than they used to be as there are many hotels and holiday providers who cater for the needs of those who use a wheelchair. There are hotels in Cyprus, Majorca, Italy and even Florida where the hotels are specially adapted for wheelchair users. In fact, more and more hotels are not setting themselves up in this way because they understand the importance of offering their services to absolutely everyone.

So, whether you are looking for a self-catering holiday or an all-inclusive holiday at a resort with spectacular sea views then the options are out there. In fact, there are now tour providers that are specifically set up for those who have a disability. This will enable you to only browse accessible holidays and hotels that are ideal for wheelchair users, helping to save time and prevent you from booking somewhere that does not have the correct access, which could be easily done if things are not made clear.

Please email me at info@disability.blog to share any experiences (good/bad) or to discuss or suggest any topic you would like to see on my website disabilitychat.blog

Thank you & kind regards

 

Travelling with a Disability- How to Prepare

disability travel

If you have a disability it does not mean that you cannot travel the world. It just means that you need to prepare yourself in the right way to make disability travel a possible and enjoyable experience.

Planning is important

Many people believe that certain cities or locations are inaccessible for those with a disability but this is not always the truth. This is because the more research and planning you do, the easier it will be to make your trip even more accessible. There are actually many locations around the world that are now wheelchair friendly and this includes historical places and even Paris and Venice. The right planning will mean that you can plan routes and ways of getting around, making it easy to avoid struggling.

Book Ahead

You will require an accessible hotel and so, carrying out your research will make it possible to find the right hotel for you. If you book in advance you can also make some decent savings while also ensuring that you get their accessible room because the majority of hotels only have a few accessible rooms which get booked quickly.

Think about your route

Where are you heading? If you consider the routes you want to travel before you get there, you will have a smoother and more enjoyable experience. You will find that there are more than likely several ways of getting to the places you want to see while some routes will have ramps, smooth paths but you want to avoid those routes that have hills and even walkways. Consider bus routes, train stations and subways and even getting in and out of buildings. There is plenty of information available online about disability travel that will provide you with the info you need in advance.

Choose places that are accessible

You will need to stay in areas that are easily accessible and this can be the tricky bit when planning. While you may have found an accessible hotel what is around that hotel is equally as important. You don’t want hills or high kerbs and lots of steps wherever you turn. You might also want to consider restaurants in the vicinity to make sure that they are accessible. Google Maps and street view can help you to find out how things look in a specific area and once you have the information you need, you can then ask the hotel any specific questions you may have.

Always have a backup plan

Despite the planning and time you spend arranging your trip, you need to have a backup plan if things go wrong because it can happen. Therefore, if you consider the potential issues and prepare a way to deal with them your trip will not become a nightmare. The problems could be with travel issues or even a problem with your wheelchair. Prepare now and you won’t have to spend time dealing with it when you are away.

Most of all, have fun!

With all that planning, you are now more than ready for your trip. You have done your research, followed the advice of others who have a disability and prepared for any potential problems. Now is the time to have fun and make the most of an exciting trip where you can relax, take in the sights and experience something new.

Please email me at info@disability.blog to share your disability travel experiences (good/bad) or to discuss or suggest any topic you would like to see on my website disabilitychat.blog

Thank you & kind regards