Hi all, and welcome to another blog post! I know I haven’t been around in a while. But due to the current way the world is right now theatre in genreal has all stop so reviews have also stopped as a result. Hopefully I will be able to get back to writing some more reviews for you all very soon.
But until then, I have something a little different for you today. I thought I would talk about what it is like travelling when you have a disability. But, I won’t be the only one writing about this. I am doing this post, in collaboration with another disability blogger called Emma from ‘InvincibleWomanOnWheels’. Emma is a wheelchair user and writes about her experiences traveling as a disabled person, she talks about different venues she attends and how accessible they are. So if that’s something that you are also interested in, then you can check that out here. Also go and check out her post after reading this, as it also gives another perspective on travelling as a disabled person!
So with that, just get going!!
It’s All In The Planning!
I always think that whether your disabled or not, it is good to plan your journeys well in advance, so you know what your doing and when. So one the day you do travel, you know exactly what is about to happen (or in some cases what should happen). But as a disabled person, planning your journeys is all the more important, especially if like me, you have a Assistance Dog coming along for the ride too.
So once I know where I am going and when. I normally look into planning straight away, or if not then definitely the next day. If it is a long journey, then I will normally go by train, so thats mainly what I am going to focus on there in this post, but some of this can apply to bus too. So the first thing I look at is pertenal trains, what route I am going to take, and how much the tickets are going to cost. I tend to use trainline.com as you can edit your journey as your looking and tell the search engine you want to go via this station, or avoid that station altogether. What I used like about trainline is that if you have a ‘Disability Railcard’ which is something I highly suggest you look at getting as it will automatically give you a third off your train tickets along with a friend, family member, or carer that might be going with you so it is a handy thing to have. As your putting in the ‘from’ and ‘to’ on the search engine it has a section for railcards, and if you have a account with the website it will save this, so next time you go to book tickets you don’t even have to worry about it.
Once I have booked the tickets and i know the train times, the exact route I’m going and the seat reservations (have these up on your screen as they will be very important for this next bit) I then phone up the ‘Travel Assistant’ Department for my local train company, which in my case is Greater Anglica, but it all depends on where you live, if possible I will leave a link here of a general directory. I phone them up and give them my name and postcode, they will check your details with you and then they will ask where you are going from and to. Then will then asking for all your train information including time of departure, seat reservations if any, and any other assistance you might need. If you don’t have a seat reservation, but like me you need a table seat for your assistance dog to go under, or you would like to be near the door of the carriage, then they will do there best to accommodate this.
Once you have given them all the information they need and it is all confirmed then they will send you an email with everything on to refer to should you need to. From my experience it is best to keep this in your inbox on your phone and to hand, as sometimes the indivdal person assisting you might not have been given your seat number or carriage info. In a ideal world they should but it does happen. It is worth noting here, that this DOES NOT London Underground Assistance, if you are going to, travelling through London you will need to seek out Underground staff, sometimes the assistance person who met you off the train will take to someone, but sometimes you might need to do this yourself. Underground staff for me have always been amazing and I can’t fault them in anyway and I have used them for years!
The Actual Travelling
To be honest, for the most part. Travelling normally goes quite well, and everything you booked goes well including train times (although this nation rail we are talking about here) but the odd thing can go wrong. Sometimes, there can be a lack of communication between staff at a certain station, communication between station to station or what type of assistance can be difficult. For example, even though you book the assistance part of your journey weeks in advance, it can be that once you are off the train, no member of staff is there to greet you, or it can be you can be seating there on the train after everyone has gone off and no one has come to help you. I have known people who have been waiting on the platform or on the train for twenty minutes, because nobody has turned up to help them. Believe it or not, this is something that happens a lot. So it could well mean asking for a member of the public to help you. But I am sure many of you are familiar with this, so use your personal judgement when doing this.
If you have seat reservations, then trying to find a seat should be too much of a problem, but trying to find a seat on your own can be challenging. There are ways you can combat this. Depending how confident you are about asking for help, there absolutely nothing wrong in asking someone on the train for help, or asking someone if they will give up their seat. Asking someone to give up there seat is in my experience is the least affective way of finding a seat. Whereas, if you have ask someone for help in finding a seat they will either help you in finding a seat, ask people to give up their seat, or they might even give up thier own depending on if they have gone their good deed for the day or not!
I have personally had to literally sit on the floor in between seating compartments as I haven’t been able to find anywhere to seat. Also a pro tip there, sometimes if you ask a member of staff on the train and say there is no seats available in standard class, and would it be okay to go and sit in first time, sometimes they will let you. Or sometimes if your really lucky Assistance Staff will put in first class themselevs as sometimes believe it or not it is easier for them! I never say no to that, but don’t get too excited as you won’t get any of the first class luxuries (unless you have a really nice mmeber of staff).
Some Other Pro Tips:
Take Lunch With You – I strongly suggest this for two reasons: One, because to be blunt and honest it is a heck of a lot cheaper! But secondly, where you might be seating on the train could be two or maybe three carriges away from the food carrige and you don’t really want to walk all the way down there for just a sandwich and a chocolate bar!
Have your ticket and your Disabled Railcard (if you have one) in the same place- It is a good idea to have your current travelling ticket and your railcard in the same place in your wallet or purse. But if you have one of those travelcard holders then they are great for this. So this is so when someone comes asking for your ticket, you don’t need to fumble and check every pocket. But please don’t leave it on the table once they’ve checked it. I did that once and left it on that train, so when a member of staff asked for it on my next train I didn’t have it! Luckily they were really nice about it and told me not to worry about it.
Make Sure Your Phone Is Charged – Come on! We have all been there, you go to check your seat reversation and you go to your phone and it’s flat! What’s worse is that now you have nothing to listen to, as all of your audiobooks and music are on that phone too! If you have one, bring a portable charge with you. They are no that exsepsive and you can get them pretty much anywhere. If you travel with more than one device say an iPad then you can even get portable charges that will charge both at the same time, but they can be a liitle more pricly but are so worth the money, because as visually Impaired people. We probably use our devices more than the average person.
So there you have it, some advice and what it is like travelling if you are disabled. Please don’t forget to go and check out Emma’s post on her blog which I will link again here. Please do comment below and share your stories. Tweet them to me also using my twitter handle: @MrAlexRamzan and don’t forget to follow me whilst your there and also follow Emma at: @InvincibleWheel! Check her out!!
Until Next Time!
The VI Crtitic