Everybody has specific needs. Especially when travelling, it can be more challenging to cater for them. You go out of your comfort zone and you might find unexpected situations. However, everybody should have the possibility to participate in DiscoverEU, on an equal basis and without discrimination.

To help you get started, we’re sharing accessible travel tips and practical advice for young people with specific access needs. In this document, you can find some advice on accessible travelling in the European Union.

But of course, you are the expert of your own life! There are many types of disabilities and every person is different. Feel free to personalize the following tips and find your own way in accommodating your own needs.

Note! The European Union may cover the costs for special assistance (for example for an accompanying person, a dog for visually impaired people, etc). This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Plan ahead! This reduces the chance of surprises. If possible, try to book your trip in advance so you have time to research accessibility in and around the place you want to visit. The more organised and prepared you are for your trip, the less stressful it will be. Have a plan B ready just in case.

The website Pantou offers a reliable and comprehensive international guide to all kinds of accessible tourism services.

  • Ask lots of questions about accessibility express your needs. Not everyone has the same idea of what “accessible” exactly is. Logos and labels indicating accessibility might differ per country. Maybe you have already been in situations where you thought a place would be accessible, but it turned out that it was not.

Call the staff of the accommodation before booking it and be specific about the things you need.

  • Find out what the public transportation situation is before you travel. Are you able to get around the city easily? Can you use all types of transport or only certain ones?

It is a good idea to call the public transport company one or two days in advance, so that they know what kind of assistance they need to provide.

If you are partially sighted or blind.

You might be surprised by the options the local travel companies have to offer. In London, for example, they have large printed maps, developed by the Royal National Institute of the Blind. In Paris, they designed a website for everyone, clearly having blind people in mind. Ask the local transport companies and find out the options they have for you.

If you travel in a wheelchair.

You can find for example wheelchair accessibility travel guides online about Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Gibraltar, London, Madrid, Munich, Paris and Prague. There are other websites as well, make sure you do your research.

  • Bring your Disability Card. In some European countries, people with a disability get a “Disability Card”, with which they enjoy some benefits in museums, accommodation, and cultural events. Bring yours, you could receive some discounts!
  • Always bring along a folder containing important medical documents: a doctors’ letter which summaries all conditions and medications and travel insurance policy.
    Do not forget to take your Europe Health Insurance Card.
  • Give your travel companion instructions before you set off, so that they know what they should do when something happens.
  • Prepare a few sentences about your needs in the local language. For example, if you have any kind of food allergy, it might be good to have written down in the local language with the ingredients you cannot eat or how about making a voice message.
  • If you bring your assistance dog, be aware that
    not all EU countries are aware of the European legislation concerning assistance dogs. You may sometimes find yourself in embarrassing situation and may not be allowed to take your dog as they see it as a pet. Be aware that this is not correct. Your assistance dog is not a pet and has the right to assist you wherever you are.

Print out a copy of the EU law, preferably in the language of your hosting country. And when you book an accommodation, make sure that they are aware of this as well.

  • If you need to bring some assistive technologies, make sure you place them in your hand luggage and take them out when you pass though the security check, and tell the staff in advance. You will save some time.
  • The best information on accessible travelling comes from people who have travelled before you.
    There are many bloggers who share their experiences and give practical tips. Get inspired by them!
    Accessible Travel Club group on Facebook has thousands of travelling members with a disability. There you will find every information you need, just ask!

Share your experiences! Moreover, it is also important to share your own experience to others! Future DiscoverEU youth will greatly benefit from it. You can do so on our Facebook Group, amongst others.

Be flexible and stay positive!
You will probably have to deal with unexpected things. Use your energy to find solutions to problems you might find on the way.

Accept your own limits. It’s OK to have different needs. You have to see for yourself how your trip should be like, within your own possibilities and limitations.