Welcome to another Flying Bumblebee chat, this time with Hannah Deakin! Hannah is 28 years old and is a disability blogger over at ‘Hannah’s Hope’. Hannah suffered an injury as a young teenager, went on to develop several illnesses and secondary complications, and as a result is now a powerchair user. Hannah fundraises for Starlight Children’s Foundation and is a Disability Ambassador for the White Lodge Centre. She is also a public speaker and runs workshops raising awareness of disability.
Hannah very kindly agreed to take part in my mini-interview series and has shared her accessible travel tales!
When and where did you have your first holiday following your injury and after becoming a powerchair user? How did you feel before you went and was it how you expected?
My first holiday following my injury and becoming a powerchair user was my Starlight wish in 2013. I had not been on holiday since 2005, so for my wish I asked to go on a family holiday. We went to London for just under a week and it was amazing. Although I had spent many years in London, it was in hospital there, so it was lovely to actually see it! We were lucky that most things were organised by Starlight, so a lot of stress was taken away. Mum and Dad went up to the hotel prior to our stay to do a recki, check what they had there and that everything would work! Luckily, it wasn’t too far to do that as you couldn’t really do that if you were going abroad! I was really excited before the trip. It was my first holiday in 8 years! I was also slightly apprehensive that everything was going to work. It was amazing. Lovely to have a break and do enjoyable things. I have since been on a family holiday to Winchester. It worked so well we have been there twice.
Do you ever find it difficult to get the balance right between finding a holiday that is suitable for your whole party but can also meet your accessibility needs?
Yes, definitely. We like a hotel as opposed to self-catering accommodation, it means we don’t need to worry about shopping and cooking, everyone can have more of a break and it is one less thing to worry about. Many hotels though, do not have the facilities I require. Some hotels that are more set up for disabilities, often seem like they are more for the elderly and I am 28! Others, could accommodate my needs but are more institutionalised with many visitors with learning disabilities. They look wonderful for some people and I am glad they are out there, but I am mentally very bright and able, I just have high physical needs.
Also they would not fit my parents needs either and we like to try and do what a family without a disability wants to on holiday, and emphasise my ability not disability.
What are your top requirements when searching for holidays and how much luck do you have finding these?!
Our top requirements are that the hotel is wheelchair accessible, has a wet room, interconnecting rooms, somewhere that will take their bed out so we can put a hired electric bed and air mattress in, car parking and somewhere that is not too far distance wise. It is important that there is somewhere nearby that we can hire equipment from (electric bed and air mattress). Nice food is also important! We struggle to find places that meet these requirements.
What reassurances would you offer other travellers with a disability considering their first holiday or accessible day out?
It is difficult and challenging to find accessible breaks, but it is great to have a break, have a day out or a holiday. I recommend researching and planning as much as possible to avoid unexpected hurdles. Start somewhere fairly local and then spread your wings further a field!
And finally……How would you summarise, “Holiday Happiness?”
I would summarise holiday happiness as a relaxing break with easy accessibility, friendly and accommodating staff, warm weather with sunshine (but not too hot), local attractions and places of interest to visit and good food. Somewhere that meets my requirements, so makes the day to day aspects easy so we can enjoy the break.
A big thank you to Hannah for taking the time to tell me more about her accessible adventures and for sharing fantastic tips and reassurances for other travellers!
Buzz on over to Hannah’s blog for more info and her social media links x