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Destination Availibility Guide: Rome

With its cobbled streets and often-crowded tourist attractions, Rome can seem a daunting holiday destination to wheelchair users. However, we firmly believe that every traveller should visit this beautiful city at least once in their lifetime, and you may be surprised by just how accessible Rome is.

Our guide below details how accessible the top attractions are and provides some tips to getting around the city day to day.

The Colosseum and Roman Forum

Colusseum, Rome

The Colosseum has recently been modernised, so it’s easy for wheelchair users to navigate. Its paths are mostly flat and smooth and there is an elevator which allows visitors to access the upper floor, where you can view the Colosseum from a different perspective.

The Roman Forum, however, presents a bigger challenge for wheelchair users. Whilst there is a lift down into the ruins, the paths are mostly cobbled, so you may need a friend to help you get around. There is a disabled access toilet, but you must overcome an uneven path to reach it.

Vatican City

Rome, Vatican city

 

There is a lot to see and do in the Vatican City, so bear this in mind if you’re planning to do it all in one day. Luckily, the museum and the Sistine Chapel are incredibly easy to navigate as a wheelchair user. If you don’t always use a wheelchair, but think you may require one for the long museum tour, you can hire one – just be sure to book in advance as there are only a few available.

You can find accessible bathrooms throughout the museum, and the friendly staff are always on hand to help if need be. In fact, it seems as if there are some advantages to being a wheelchair user here, as you’ll have the opportunity to access parts of the museum not available to others. For example, you’ll get a wonderful view of the Sistine Chapel.

One of the only parts of the Vatican City that cannot be accessed via wheelchair is the Vatican Gardens. This is due to the tricky terrain – in fact you’ll need to be pretty fit to take part in this two-hour long tour.

 

The Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon

Fountain di Trevi ,Rome. Italy.

If you want to get down to the water’s edge, you’ll need to navigate a handful of steps, so bring a friend who can help you down safely. Be wary that the Trevi Fountain is almost always crowded, which will also make it difficult to get down those few steps.

The Pantheon, on the other hand, is completely wheelchair accessible and free to visit.

Restaurants and cafes

Most eateries are rather small and are therefore not well suited to wheelchair users. If you’re visiting in the summer, we recommend eating outside – not only does it make things easier for you, it’s the best way to eat in Italy anyway! Finding accessible toilets can be tricky too; if you’re struggling to find a suitable public toilet, try the nearest McDonald’s as they will almost certainly have one.

General tips and advice

You will find your trip to Rome much less stressful if you take a friend with you that can help you navigate the cobbled streets. Your transport options are limited, so we suggest staying within the city centre and using a taxi or bus to get from one part of Rome to the other.

If you don’t want to travel with a friend, or are unable to, consider going on an accessible tour. There are lots of specialised tours to choose from which allow you to see the best parts of the city. Who knows, you may even make some new friends on your trip.

With a little help and forward-planning, it is possible to explore Rome with relative ease. Most of the main attractions now have disabled access, and the ones that don’t are bound to incorporate it in the future. After all, Rome was not built in a day.

Travelling with a mental health condition

Travelling is one of life’s perks and can be hugely enjoyable, but when you have a mental health condition, travel can add to the challenges of arranging a trip abroad.

With one in four of us expected to experience some form of mental health condition throughout our lifetimes, it’s common for people to travel with one disorder or another.

From depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s important to remember that it’s all about planning well in order to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.

The team here at Insurancewith have compiled a handy travel checklist for you to read through before you embark on your trip:

  • Medication – As with any medical condition, if you’re on medication, make sure that you bring enough to cover the duration of your trip as well as extra just in case your transport is delayed, it becomes damaged or is lost. Also take into account the conditions that your medication will be travelling in i.e. humid climates or being on board a flight.
  • Doctor’s letter – If you’re travelling with medication, it’s important to also bring a doctor’s letter confirming the importance of the medicine and the consequences of not having them accessible or with you. Some medications are illegal in other countries without proof of prescription, so a doctor’s letter is essential should anything occur.
  • Doctor and prescription details – Make sure you include your doctor’s contact details and an explanation of your medical circumstances. This will come in useful should you need any treatment whilst abroad, as it can help any medical staff tending to you. If all of your medication becomes damaged or lost, having a copy of your prescription details will help you acquire further medication whilst abroad.
  • Identification – Having your hotel details, name and date of birth will come in useful should you find yourself lost or disorientated in an unfamiliar destination.
  • Travel insurance – Travel insurance is important for anyone thinking of travelling abroad. Your insurers will often specify that you notify them of any incident which occurs whilst on your trip, so having your documents packed will ensure you have contact and cover details to hand just in case you need to make a claim. To get a quote for travel insurance which can cover you for your mental health condition.
  • EHIC card – This little piece of plastic can often save you thousands of pounds in potential medical care expenses. If you’re thinking of travelling throughout Europe, this free card helps you get free or subsidised healthcare. Please bear in mind that most organisations do not see this as full payment, and any additional costs can be covered by your travel insurance policy if you do not want to find yourself out of pocket.

Packing physical things isn’t the only thing you need to think about before travelling. Travel can be stressful at the best of times, so doing your research and preparing well can lower your stress levels and reduce the risk of any panic. Insurancewith recommends that you:

  • Talk to your doctor – seek advice from your doctor before you travel. They know both you and your condition better than most so will be able to give you travel advice, and extra medication if needs be.
  • Have a flexible itinerary – Rushing around sightseeing can be fun, especially if you’ve only got a tight window to do everything in, but often tiredness and stress can exacerbate mental health conditions. Make sure you take time to rest and do things at your own pace.
  • Avoid nasty surprises – knowing exactly what you’re doing with a well planned trip and itinerary is a sure way to avoid triggering stress. Going and doing familiar things can also help.
  • Research what you will do if something happens. Find out what the medical facilities are like abroad – not every country has the same level of mental health care as we do in the NHS. Factor this in when planning your trip and decide on an action plan for you and your companion should something happen. Research what mental health services are available in your destination, and decide who would help you if your mental health deteriorated abroad, and how would you contact them?

Travelling with high blood pressure

As with many chronic health conditions, high blood pressure can make planning a holiday more stressful than normal; especially for an activity that’s supposed to be relaxing in the first place. However, with the correct preparation, you can still have an enjoyable and fun time on your holidays even if you have hypertension.

Take a look at the travel tips that we have gathered below, to ensure that you get the most out of your holiday.

Check with your GP

    • Before you do anything else, it’s crucial to understand the effect that travelling abroad may have on your high blood pressure, and no one is better suited to inform you of how to best manage your particular case of hypertension, than your GP.
    • A pre-holiday consultation with your GP will be able to refresh your knowledge of any triggers to your hypertension, allowing you to take the appropriate precautions, even when out of your normal comfort zone.
    • Your GP may also be able to recommend a change in medication to better suit the climate that you are travelling to, or the seasonal weather you are expecting at your destination; particularly extreme heat or cold may necessitate stronger medication, or greater care on your part.

(Source: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/airline-travel-high-blood-pressure-15651.html)

Establish your medication requirements

  • A few useful tips to keep in mind when travelling abroad with any kind of medication; always carry more than you need, and ensure that your supply is spread across the different luggage that you’re taking. This way, if a piece of luggage goes missing, you can be sure that you have access to at least enough medication to get by.
  • On the same tangent, it’s also a good idea to carry a spare prescription with you, or a copy thereof; so that if some of your medication goes missing, or it turns out that you need more than you originally thought you required, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
  • Bear in mind that you’ll most likely be entering a different time zone when you travel abroad, which means that you’ll need to adjust when you take your medication; your usual routines will need to be revised to accommodate this change. It’s definitely worth consulting your GP about this, to ensure that you won’t be without medication for a prolonged period of time, at any stage of your holiday.
  • Make sure that you understand the requirements and limitations of the country you intend to travel to; ensuring that you acquire any necessary permits long before your departure date. At the same time, bear in mind that medication may only be available under different names, or in different quantities when abroad; so be sure to do the research before you leave.
  • Airlines will also often have restrictions on how much medication can be freely transported on their service; so make sure you check their regulations, and enquire personally if there are still uncertainties that you feel need clearing up. The medication that you are taking with you on holiday may be illegal in the country that you intend to visit, so it’s also a good idea to carry a GP’s letter, to identify the medication and make it clear to authorities as to why you need to take it.

Understand how travelling will affect your condition

  • If you suffer from high blood pressure, you have will most likely have a higher susceptibility to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when travelling by plane. This makes it doubly important for you to try and stay mobile during the flight, and to stay properly hydrated. Not doing so further increases the odds of developing DVT. (Source: http://www.patient.co.uk/blogs/sarah-says/deep-vein-thrombosis-more-than-just-a-pain-in-the-leg, http://www.webmd.com/dvt/deep-vein-thrombosis-complications)
  • Only consume low salt food during flights; the snack food served on planes are especially high in salt, so avoid them if possible. Bring some low salt snacks on-board if need be, to reduce the risk of trouble occurring.
  • To reduce the risk of DVT during the flight, request an aisle seat, or a seat in front of an emergency exit. This will allow you to move frequently, either by stretching, or walking up and down the aisle; helping your circulation.
  • Your GP may suggest that you use an oxygen tank for the duration of the flight. Whether you rent one from the airline, or bring your own, it’s important to phone the airline ahead of time. This way, you can work out what regulations they may have, and what action you will have to take to secure an oxygen supply.

Plan your itinerary accordingly

  • As with plane travel, it’s important to avoid dehydration while on the holiday itself, whether this is caused solely by temperature, over exertion, intake of certain foods and drinks, or a combination of some or all of the above.
  • It may sound obvious, but it’s also important to avoid any of the everyday hypertension triggers that you may have; whether its stress, lack of sleep, bad diet, lack of exercise, forgetting to take your medication, or any others. It’s essential that you continue to counter the effects of these triggers, and maintain a stable, relaxed lifestyle while on your holiday.

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