Following on from my last travel advice post, I thought I would share a few of my tips for travelling with a hidden illness. It makes me happy to see anyone with a disability going on an adventure, but sadly this was recently in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Hidden disability – an umbrella term for conditions which are not immediately apparent to others.
Humans with hidden disabilities always seem to be ignored when travel planning advice is posted on websites. That makes me sad because hidden disabilities often provide people with a unique and often beautiful perspective of the world. Hidden disability, invisible disability, or whatever you choose to call it; gone are the days where your condition rules you. For anyone who doesn’t know, a hidden disability is usually something neurological like autism, Asperger’s or even Alzheimer’s disease.
Before the adventure
Allow the person with the disability to decide or suggest places they want to go to. A guide book is very useful as is Pinterest because you can look at photographs instead. Having a simple itinerary is a great way to get excited about travel and reminding everyone of landmarks in the destination. Make sure there is a quiet space in the place you are visiting, whether it is a beach or a park. I always like to be near a park or botanic gardens as it calms me. Singapore was definitely my favourite destination for having calm green spaces!
Booking seats on the airplane is also helpful, I’ve heard some horror stories recently about passengers with autism being sat away from their families. Jet2 is the worst airline I’ve flown with for purposely separating everyone in your party to make you pay. On the other hand, Mistral air and Emirates are the best for keeping everyone together for free (YAY!).
If airplanes are scary and airports too stressful, bus trips are a fabulous alternative. There are lots of soon to be familiar faces to help and someone else is doing the organising (and driving). This is a great option for UK breaks as it gives the opportunity to visit places you have been in the past. Several Adventursaurus’ with Alzheimer’s or memory loss do this because a familiar location removes all the fears of going somewhere new.
At the airport
Newcastle airport, alongside many other airports in the UK are now taking steps to support anyone with a hidden illness. The lanyard program is a great way to show you or anyone in your party might need some assistance when attempting to navigate the airport. There is also a quiet room opening in several airports, I’ll be trying the one in Newcastle airport and reporting back after my next adventure.
Get to the airport nice and early, I’m one of those dinosaurs who arrives three hours before my flight, so I can slowly make my way through the security scanner and have time for coffee before my flight.
During an adventure
Have a map with the hotel circled for everyone in your party. So if anyone gets lost or forgets where the hotel is, it’s already circled! A great tip from a fellow Adventursaurus which I will be using on my upcoming visit to Krakow.
Make sure they have a say in where to go whilst there, even if it is the same restaurant each day. You can’t tell how anyone will react to visiting a new place, I found Prague overwhelming because I had never been in such a big city. I spent a lot of time away from the sights, I found the Riverside was somewhere I really liked in the city. Going to alternative and quieter parts of a destination gives a wonderful and different perspective on a place, which you probably wouldn’t get when sticking to the tourist hotspots.
Last but not least, if it isn’t safe to travel for you or the one with a hidden illness, don’t travel. Fun adventures can also be found close to home.
Adventure is calling!
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