Welcome to WanderingWounded.com, a resource for independent travel!
What’s it all about, Alfie?
First of all, my name isn’t Alfie. I’m KB, and you can check out my bio here. My mother has also been roped into this project and is currently looking up the Geneva Convention to see if taking one’s elderly mother on a train or up into the Himalayas counts as “cruel and unusual”. (Depends if one feeds her to a yak, in my opinion.)
Although this blog covers topics of interest to every traveller, the central focus is on accessibility for those with a disability. There will be reviews of accommodation, advice on places to visit, and articles on travel planning.
While I support the concept of “person first” language, I (along with many others) refer to myself as a “disabled person” without a problem. That is the terminology I will use but please do not think it carries a value judgement if you use different words.
Why is access an issue?
Many of us are familiar with the trips that travel agents often claim are perfect holidays for disabled people. Usually they are predictable package holidays to well-worn resorts in the Western world. These are safe and well-tested territory for travellers with special access needs. There’s no doubt that if you need level access and want to stay away from home, it’s easiest to stay in a hotel with proven accessibility.
The difficulty is the variability of disability. No two people have identical needs or wishes. So many guidebooks and operators limit their accessibility information to wheelchair access, without ever thinking of those who have invisible illnesses or need more equipment. This is true even in package holiday bookings! Needs vary in ways that are all but invisible to providers without specialist knowledge. Furthermore, specialist advice can come at a cost.
There are some key questions to consider when booking a holiday. Does the advice reflect diversity in disability? Even if it addresses your needs, is it actually as easy as it’s supposed to be? More importantly, is it satisfying? It doesn’t sound the most thrilling way to travel if you’re used to independent exploration. How can we make it more satisfying where there are shortcomings?
So where do we want to go?
Everywhere! And why not? Most of us have a bucket list. Even those of us who limp a bit. We have itchy crutches and wheels that yearn to roll.
There are endless classic travel experiences that seem unattainable. For every whale watching boat that has a ramp, it feels like there are twenty hotels whose access info is, “Sorry, we do not have disabled access.” For every clear picture of a ramp on a hotel website, there are a hundred guidebooks who write off entire countries as “not disabled friendly.”
Why do these trips seem impossible? Which bits are insurmountable? Does it vary?
Then, where there are certain places that really are off-limits, what else could we do? What is the essence of the experience? What do people get out of it? Are there alternative routes or activities that would allow us to capture something of the experience?
As we travel
The experiences we have can only represent our own physical needs but we want to consider how people with various needs would cope or adapt. We’re not made of money ourselves, and costs should as close to a similar trip for able-bodied travellers. Certainly, they should not be well out of reach of the average person in our situation.
We plan to talk to local organisations and individuals to learn about disability around the world and how other people cope with their situation in context. After all, every country in the world has citizens with disabilities.
Above all, we do not intend to be boring.