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2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

Greenville, South...
2 posts
1 review
2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

Where to begin. I have a big ask. I (64 years old) will be sailing on a transatlantic cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Europe (either to Barcelona or to SouthHampton...TBD) with husband 64 who is a paraplegic and uses a manual wheelchair. We are planning to spend 4 to 5 weeks exploring several countries within the Shengen district. I'm doing pretty good with the cruise arrangements. Where I am struggling is with wheelchair van rentals and then on to booking hotels. We'd like to rent a wheelchair van for the duration (it would be great if we could get one with hand controls, but if not possible, I'll do the driving). I would need to have a van delivered to the port, and then 5 weeks later picked up at a different port (definitely Southampton for return trip). I have found a couple of sites on line that suggest they do wheelchair rentals in Europe, but I can't get specific details of the extent of their services. I have tried e-mail and website inquiries with no response. Am I in a dream world or is this doable?. Is there anybody on this forum that has done something similar? I am at the point now where I am seeking a disability travel specialist but even that has yielded zero responses. (I am beginning to think my internet only does outgoing and no incoming HAH) I am stuck. Any advice?

6 replies to this topic
Wrexham, United...
Destination Expert
for Singapore, Traveling With Disabilities
Level Contributor
4,400 posts
362 reviews
313 helpful votes
1. Re: 2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

Hi Teri, and welcome to TripAdvisor

Picking up a vehicle in Europe and dropping off in Southampton is unlikely to work, the UK is a separate country, not part of the EU, so vehicle insurance won't cover you in the UK, and most hire companies would not allow you to leave the EU area. Normally there is no problem about driving within different countries in the EU, but it would be wise to check. We drive on the left in the UK, which is another problem if you were to bring a European car into the UK.

I admire your determination, but think you may have to simplify, and either spend the time in the UK or in continental Europe. Or treat it as 2 separate zones, and cross into the UK and rent a vehicle after the crossing.

Hiring a suitable vehicle is difficult, made more complicated if you would like hand controls.

if you don't get help here, there are a number of forums dedicated to helping the disabled (this is just a small part of general travel advice), which might be more useful. My wife suggested Scope https://forum.scope.org.uk/

There is also this Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/DHorizonsTribe/

You could also ask in the destination forum for suitable places you'll start your trip. To find the destination forum Google tripadvisor forum destination.name

I hope you get something sorted. It is difficult, but I'm sure you'll have a great trip.

London, England
Level Contributor
14,163 posts
72 reviews
70 helpful votes
2. Re: 2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

I agree with post #1 regarding hiring a vehicle in Europe and dropping off in Southampton. You could consider ending your journey in Paris, Amsterdam or Paris and taking Eurostar to London. Their Special Assistance is second to none and they give wheelchair passengers plus a companion discount plus upgrade.

Facebook has lots of forums for disabled travellers. You could begin by looking at The Accessible Travel Club.

I think Avis is one of the few companies who hire adapted vehicles.

Greenville, South...
2 posts
1 review
3. Re: 2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

Thank you both for your advice. I will look into the Eurostar as an option to and through the UK. I signed up for the Scope Forum, the DHorizons Tribe and Quora to see what information I can glean. I feel like I have a lot of time to plan all of this, but the Transatlantic cruises to and fro have a shorter window of opportunity and I hope to have most of my big questions answered before I book.

Thanks again for your help.

Southport, United...
Destination Expert
for Southport
Level Contributor
4,202 posts
4. Re: 2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

Enterprise appear to offer adapted vehicles that take a wheelchair passenger and mention other adaptions on their website. Hopefully that would be hand controls for the driver. Although the link is to the U.K. they have a presence in France, Germany, Spain and Ireland according to the web page.

https://www.enterprise.co.uk/en/help/disabled-customers.html?icid=footer.customer.service-_-disabilities-_-ENGB.NULL

Edited: 08 November 2023, 07:53
Southport, United...
Destination Expert
for Southport
Level Contributor
4,202 posts
5. Re: 2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

Just reread your email and the hand controls would be for your husband driving from his wheelchair. I was thinking, wrongly, that the hand controls were for you. There’s harm in asking but it might be an ask to far. However as you say you can always drive.

For some long journeys in both the U.K. and on the Continent I would also suggest using the train. The TGVs in France make move across the country frequently and fast. All have wheelchair spaces with a companion seat.

All the countries you mention have wheelchair spaces on their trains with an accompanying seat for their companion. Some trains need lifts or ramps for the wheelchair user others are low floor access. Some countries require the assistance to be booked in advance others it’s more or less on demand.

I walk with a large all terrain rollator and have experience withe assistance services in the U.K., Eurostar French TGV and Switzerland. You will have no problem with them as your husband is a wheelchair user. I’m always glad to be back in the U.K. where they have more understanding of rollator users.

Rome, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Vatican City
Level Contributor
21,297 posts
1,042 reviews
1,611 helpful votes
6. Re: 2025 Europe travel with Wheelchair user

This company specializes in accessible travel in Europe, and has a lot of articles about travel in different cities, so it might be of help in planning: https://www.sagetraveling.com

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