When you travel, things are always going to go wrong no matter how well you plan every detail of your trip. Planes get cancelled or delayed, bags get lost, mistakes are made when booking accommodation etc. These things happen regardless of whether you have a disability or not. But having a disability does mean that it can be a bit more difficult. I have complied a list of tips below and also a compilation of everything that went wrong on my trip and what I did about it.
There are so many great apps for disabled travellers. Even ‘normal’ apps like facebook can come in extremely handy. As soon as I arrived in London I purchased a sim card with a lot of data that had roaming all throughout Europe. This was the best thing I ever did.
As a disabled person having internet on my phone wherever I went just meant I could feel a little more secure. I could look up accessible locations, accomodation, transport etc on the go and not worry about having to find a McDondalds or hassle people for free wfifi. The sim card i purchased was from the company 3. The plan I bought provided me with 12GB of data but pretty much no actual phone time (which was fine). I had to top it up every month, the only problem was that I needed a UK credit card. So i would just have to msg a friend when I needed so I could use their credit card. This amount of data was more than enough even with me using it 24/7.
The following were the apps I used most commonly were:
It seems an oxymoron that I did so many walking tours when in actual fact I cannot walk. However I found them a great way to see a city. They let you orientate yourself with your new surrounds and tell you the history and stories of places that you wouldn’t of otherwise known. They go into extreme detail and often go to places that are not mentioned in a guidebook. They are also a great way to meet other travellers.
It took me a while to get the confidence to go on a walking tour. I thought the predetermined route would have too many steps, the guides wouldn’t be understanding, I would miss out on too much or I would hold everyone up. I did my first walking tour in Munich with a friend and I learned so much, so after that I did a walking tour in almost every place I visited.
A few tips;
Deciding how I was going to get around Europe was a bit of a difficult one. I knew I didn’t want to do a Contiki tour and Busabout closes in winter. There are alot of other bus companies that travel around Europe and they are extremely affordable and you can travel to another country for as little as 1 Euro. However most buses have a couple of steps. Which I would of been able to do by crawling in and out but I didn’t want to do have to do this every couple of days. Therefore I decided to get around using the trains as it seemed the most accessible option.
There were a few things I couldn’t have left the house without and felt as a wheelchair user were absolutely invaluable. There are definitely some things that you have to pack that your able bodied backpackers don’t have to pack. The challenge is to to keep your pack light, because remember you have to carry everything in you bag.
Finding an accessible hostel can be tricky and lack of accessibility is common. Unlike hotels, hostels don’t have any information on their website about accessibility. Also a lot of hostel are in older, run down buildings. However I prefer staying in hostels as one they are cheaper especially if you are travelling for a long period of time and also it’s a great way to meet people.
The thing I was most worried about was how was I going to carry 3 months worth of my belongings. Bags with wheels were out as they were too hard to push so that ruled out suitcases.
I ended up settling with a 55L pack from Kathmandu (an Australian outdoor/camping company). The staff there were great and super helpful. I settled on 55L as anything bigger than that would make me too top heavy and any smaller and I wouldn’t have been able to carry all my stuff as I was travelling in a European winter. Continue reading “How to Choose and Carry your pack”…
In Australia it’s almost tradition that by sometime in your twenties you are going quit your job and go backpacking around Europe for an extended period of time.
As a result a lot of my friends have done this and I found myself getting jealous and frustrated. Then one day I though why can’t I go backpacking around Europe solo? Surely even with my disability it’s something I could manage. Continue reading “Wheelchair Backpacking: The Beginning”…