7 Reasons Why You Should Travel as a Wheelchair User

When you combine wheelchairs and travel, the first thing that comes to mind might be the possibility of hassle, inconvenience, or perhaps worse. Those same possibilities exist in the minds of all travelers however, and the inherent risk of negative likelihoods is present in everything we do — even activities WAY less fun than traveling. At a certain point, it is necessary to ignore the 'what-ifs' in life and embrace the freedom to allow experiences to manifest themselves into memories you'll remember even after you visit all your dream destinations.

Here are seven reasons why you should embrace traveling as a wheelchair user and experience the world:

1. Advancements in accommodations are being made every day.

Just a few years ago even, traveling with a wheelchair was completely different than it is today. Whether this is through conscious improvement on behalf of those in the travel industry, or merely the result of airlines and the like being forced to better themselves in uncertain. What is certain, however, is the fact that usability improvements are being implemented throughout the travel sector each and every day in order to better accommodate and provide assistance to those in need.

2. Likewise, customer service advancements are being made as well.

Relaxing on the coast

Perhaps more exciting than the improved facilities and increased comfort, the training being given to employees handling the more complex travel arrangements has upgraded as well! You will now often find** individuals with problem solving skills, common sense, and compassion able to assist you and make traveling as smooth as possible. (**some grumpy staff might not apply, don't take it personally!)

3. You can be a tangible part of usability improvements by traveling.

One of the undoubtable reasons why traveling has become more streamlined for those in wheelchairs is due to many wheelchair users not being afraid to take the risk and subsequently take a trip. By getting on planes, cruises, and buses, wheelchair users are allowing those in the travel industry to recognize their previous shortcomings and tailor a more comfortable experience towards those who had been previously underserved.

4. The destinations you haven't experienced yet might be the most accommodating.

One common fear espoused by individuals in wheelchairs is tied to unfamiliarity. What if something goes wrong overseas? What if there is a problem with my chair and the people don't understand me? What if there are too many bumpy cobblestone streets in Europe!?

Hot air ballooning

Do not fear: you might actually be surprised by how well-prepared people in a variety of locales are, including in such far-flung places as Iceland, South Africa, and even Israel (all of which have tour companies specifically devoted to enabling travelers with disabilities). If there is a problem with your wheelchair, it can be fixed. There will be someone with the repair capabilities you need. While it is still necessary to properly charge, as well as pack all applicable replacement parts for your chair or for your needs, compatibility worries are set to be a thing of the past. Who knows, you might even appreciate the ease of access on your trip more than your current home.

5. Because some forms of travel are nearly too perfect.

When the majority of people think travel, their first inclination is to lean towards an airplane. That is fair enough, but by no means the only form of travel available.

Why not consider a cruise? All the beauty of the sea around you, leads of passengers to interact with, large amounts of crew members and staff to provide assistance (if necessary), and a plethora of activities and enjoyment to immerse yourself within — all in a centralized location. In the past, it may have been difficult to transfer wheelchairs from ship to tender boats in order to de-boat, but those problems have been solved on many cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean. Mechanical tender lifts and ramps are common on nearly all cruise lines now. If they're going to build the accommodations, you might as well enjoy them!

6. Because you can.

Cory in winter

Far too many people advance through their lives with hesitation and end up missing out on opportunities. The travel possibilities available today might not exist in the same regard moving forward. The point is, the possibilities exist...now. The experiences available to you at this very moment won't last forever. Eventually you will recognize the absolute awesomeness associated with travel and you'll probably feel a bit silly that you missed out on squeezing just a few more trips in.

7. Because seeing you traveling might provide the motivation and/or camaraderie necessary to inspire another in a wheelchair to travel.

One of the most comforting things during travel is knowing that you aren't alone. I've seen it happen with children, grown adults, the elderly, and even animals — we are all the same in this regard. Similarly, a lot of wheelchair users might maintain reservations about traveling because they don't want to stand out.

While it is unlikely that you'll ever board one of your flights and see only rows of passengers in wheelchairs, or even a flight attendant with a wheelchair full of refreshments, wheelchair travel is increasing quickly. You can be a part of that increase, while also keeping in mind that your presence on a flight might be the best part of somebody's trip.

There is fear inherent in every traveler, so don't feel ashamed that you're stressed out or fearful over a trip. Just make sure to remind yourself that with proper arrangements, communication with individuals and businesses involved, and normal preparations, traveling can be hassle-free and extremely enjoyable. Times are changing; amenities, accommodations, and staff are upgrading and improving every day. For many with a wheelchair, you may have once assumed that popping a wheelie was the only way they'd get their chair in the air, but that is no longer the case.

About the Author

Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

Most of the stories here on Live Quickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 6/6/2017 12:00:00 AM

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