The Disabled Motorists Federation (DMF) is involved in efforts to make holidaying for disabled people simpler. This time we left the car at home for once so here are a few tips I’ve brought back from a recent trip to the USA that might make your holiday easier.
By John Killick
Call each hotel to check that you have booked what you think you’ve booked. We arrived in New York to find that the hotel had put us in an ordinary room because they didn’t realise that stupid Brits travel with wheelchairs; you have never seen such a panic!
American railway companies, like ours, require a day’s notice to secure assistance. Their porters are called ‘Red Caps’, and are plentiful and obvious (because of their red caps), but if you can’t see one, then report to the information desk.
A specialist travel agent will have arranged for a wheelchair accessible taxi to meet you at the airport. You need to make sure they know which flight you are on and which gate you will be arriving at. You can’t just flag down a wheelchair accessible cab as you can in UK cities, so book a central hotel within the vicinity of shops and entertainment.
We left New York for New Orleans. You’ll need to get to the railway station well before train departure time. Speak to the concierge; their information is always valuable. We always visit the station the day before traveling to find out about any local idiosyncrasies. That way we avoid panic.
You are about to spend just over two days on a train. Our American cousins have this cracked. You should be booked into a twin berth sleeping compartment complete with your own, if rather cramped, wetroom and toilet. The beds convert into club armchairs during the day. This is looked after by the car steward, as are your meals. Sit back, enjoy the ride – tip lavishly – they deserve it.
New York is always great and New Orleans is a blast – we visited the Bayou Swamps, the D-Day museum, and the maritime museum. There are also, of course, many jazz clubs and seemingly, a group playing for free on every street corner. Enjoy!
John Killick is Secretary of DMF.