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Travelling To Ireland As An Autistic Person

Something I find difficult to do is take time off, especially if it is for a longer period of time such as for a holiday. It means that I have to break my routine and structure, which I thrive on.


However, I recently had a week off and went away to Ireland for the week: despite not having my routine, I did find that I was able to relax and enjoy a break.


What helped to make my experience accessible?


The travel company that we went away with did a few small things that meant I wasn’t constant on edge, such as:

  • They made sure to clearly repeat the timings for each day of the holiday, so that I knew when my meals were and when we were setting off and returning.

  • They gave clear directions to key places in each area that we visited.

  • When we expressed interest in visiting somewhere slightly out of the centre, they ensured that they dropped us off and picked us up.

These were only small things, but they made such a difference to my experience.


Which areas could have been more accessible?


There were quite a few things on the holiday that didn’t make me feel relaxed and settled, which could definitely be improved on.


Boarding


The process of travelling from Holyhead to Dublin on Irish Ferries was really inaccessible.


Given that these crossings take place multiple times a day, I would have expected a much better experience.

By having all the coaches board on the same deck, at the same time. It meant that there were far too many people trying to get up the same staircase at the same time.


This was extremely overwhelming as it was so crowded and everyone was pushing and shoving to get through. This meant by the time I had got up the stairs I was overwhelmed and close to meltdown.


Signage


I had hoped that once I had reached the top of the stairs that the rest of the experience would have been better.


However, the signage for somewhere to eat was unclear..


There was a snack bar with pizza boxes on top of it. So, I joined a very slow-moving queue and it wasn’t until we were near the front of the queue that we spotted a small sign highlighting that pizza’s were actually available at a different food outlet.


In the end, we joined another very slow-moving queue where we eventually managed to get something to eat.


Again this felt like something that could have been much better organised.


Unloading


Given the experience of boarding the ferry, I was very anxious about when it came to getting off again.


Therefore, we made sure to be near the front when it came to the announcement that we had nearly arrived. This did make the experience of getting down the stairs much better.


The reason why I wanted to highlight the issues when we arrived in Dublin was the behaviour of other passengers.


As expected, there were so many people wanting/needing to use the lift. What I didn’t expect was to have to listen to a group of adults arguing with each other over who was more disabled to determine who should get to use the lift first.


I was genuinely appalled at the things I heard during this exchange. Acting in that way will not help to make the world a more inclusive place if that is how we treat each other.


I did wonder, if I had said something as someone with multiple hidden disabilities, if I would have even been believed!


Overall, the ferry crossing was the most challenging part of the holiday. I am pleased to say that the return journey seemed to go much smoother but there are definitely that can be done to improve accessibility.






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