When Your Summer Plans Go Awry

a man in a wheelchair on a beach
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Whether climbing to the top of a hill to take in an amazing view, traipsing along tiny cobblestone streets to get to an amazing restaurant, or running down the beach headed for the ocean waves, my travels are active and my biggest concern regarding getting around usually has to do with whether Uber is allowed to pick up at the airport or if my flight has been cancelled. I take my mobility for granted.

San Francisco
San Francisco

I was talking with one of my surf and travel-loving friends last week about summer plans. He recently shattered his kneecap, and remarked glumly, “well, that’s it. No summer surf trips or traveling for me and probably no winter ones either. I can’t go anywhere!” He’s in a wheelchair for now, and though it is unsure if he’ll need surgery just yet he isn’t too happy about sitting out from his usual activities.

Sometimes, it is preferred or even necessary to stay home when in a wheelchair but not always. Where there’s a will there’s a way, with a big, wonderful world out there to explore. While my friend probably won’t be surfing anytime soon, he may not be as confined as he thinks.

Caution: Low Clearance
Caution: Low Clearance

Recently I was introduced to a blog that I love, called Wheelchair Travel that is written by a 26 year old guy named John Morris. John is a car accident/burn survivor, triple amputee and wheelchair user. He travels the world and shares his experiences with readers so that they can do it too.

Just his introduction had me hooked, and I wanted to learn more. Cobblestone streets look romantic in pictures, but anyone who has dragged a roller board suitcase down one knows they aren’t so kind on wheels. How are they for wheelchair users?

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 6.02.13 PM

I wondered how John navigated in cities without sidewalks and got around safely in countries without speaking the local language, so I promptly signed up for his newsletter and read more.

His city guides are great and encouraging, and even include a fun section called “roll-ability” (in case you’re curious, Bangkok gets low scores). He’s got some touching stories on his site too, like when he visited the amputee elephant in Cambodia from the Survivor TV show.

Even though the tagline of his site is, “Open Your World”, traveling isn’t all peaches and cream for him. He candidly points out where there is room for improvement (and there is often plenty) but doesn’t go into rants or tirades. I shared his website with my surfer friend, and realized that some of my readers might be in similar situations so I wanted to share with you, too.

It is: wheelchairtravel.org

Are you or someone you know a wheelchair user that is also a world traveler? If so, what’s one of the most frustrating bits of traveling?

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