The annual summer holiday season is upon us and as we get ready to join the onslaught of tourists travelling to various holiday destinations, or make our way home to visit family, we should look at various important factors to ensure a smooth and safe journey. Should you be travelling outside of our borders, check that your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date. All visas and permits must be in order. Travel insurance is highly recommended, and there are a number of policy options available, even for local travel, so contact your local travel agent, or myself for advice. Accessible accommodation may be found on various websites – the best source of information is www.disabledtravel.co.za. However, always contact the establishment directly to discuss your individual needs.

Tips for road travel

  • At least two weeks before travelling, check that your vehicle is not due for a service during the time that you are away.  Some manufacturers are quite strict with regards to maintenance plans, if you overstep the mileage markers for service, you will have to pay for the service.  Rather book the car in early and have the service done before you travel.
  • Also get your hand control devices checked to make sure that they are in working order. A breakdown service card is essential.  Your insurance company may have roadside assistance feature, but you can also get an AA membership and card.
  • Fill your fuel tank and have the oil and tire-pressure checked the day before your leave. Clean the windscreen and make sure that the washer water container is full.
  • Check the weather conditions for the day of travel and dress accordingly – have a jersey handy in case it’s cool, or sunglasses and short sleeves if it’s warm.
  • Plan your route and stops ahead of time. Most major petrol stations have accessible wheelchair toilet facilities.
  • Get enough rest before you leave.
  • Have toll money or a garage card handy.
  • Drive within your own capabilities – rather stay in the slower lane than feel pressured to drive fast in the other lanes.
  • Eat regularly and drink sufficient fluids. If you feel tired, find a petrol station and stop and get out of the car.
  • Carry a water spray bottle in the car to cool yourself down.

AIR TRAVEL TIPS

  • After making an internet reservation, check that your reservations are correct with regard to dates and times.
  • Immediately contact the airline and confirm assistance by completing the relevant forms or quoting your SAA Fremec card number. You can apply for this card online at www.flysaa.com. Go to the search option and type in “Fremec Card” and follow the prompts by clicking on the “Frequent Travellers Medical Card.”
  • Make sure that the airport personnel know what type of mobility aid you use. It is your right to stay in your own wheelchair up to the aircraft when embarking and from the aircraft when disembarking.  You may insist that the staff fetch your chair – if they have sent it through to the terminal by mistake.
  • If you are driving to the airport, contact ACSA for discounted parking, as most long term parking areas are not serviced by accessible buses.  Another option is to use a parking service that collects your car, stores it and meets you on your return.
  • Mark your check-in luggage with a bright ribbon or tag for easy identification.
  • Ensure that you arrive at the airport 90 minutes before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
  • Ask to be taken through to the airside and stay near your boarding gate or at the allocated area for Passenger Assistive Unit boarding.
  • Ensure that you have enough time to visit the bathroom before boarding.
  • Always keep your boarding pass with you – don’t let assistive staff keep it as they may go off with it.
  • Communication is the key to a good journey.

Remember, planning ahead always makes the journey more enjoyable and that the holiday starts when you leave your home.

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