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Posts Tagged ‘flexible’

I put together a little video about my latest skiing adventure. I hope you get as much chuckle from watching it as I did making it!

Skiing

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Are you ready to go on a cruise? If so, then read my next several posts as Wendy and I prepare to go on a Mediterranean cruise. Our adventure starts on October 18 and there has been a great deal of preparation getting ready for that day. Travel of any sort has always been exciting for me. That is one reason why I loved being in the military. It gave me an incredible opportunity to see the world and personally experience other cultures.

To have an enjoyable and hassle-free vacation is my goal. Because I am in a wheelchair, there has to be some very detailed planning for that to happen.  Once upon a time the ideal vacation might have been traversing across Europe with a backpack, walking stick and a black Lab. Now I need accessible transportation, hotel rooms, knowledgeable tour guides of site accessibility, etc. This can become a logistical nightmare without months of advance planning.

The first thing to do is to get a passport. There are numerous forms to fill out and documents that you will need, especially if you are a first time applicant. You can go to http://travel.state.gov/passport/processing/processing_1740.html which will give you all of the information needed to apply for a passport. Make sure and do this early as it takes 4-6 weeks to get your passport. The process can be expedited to 2-3 weeks but there is an extra charge involved.

Depending on how adventurous you want to be will determine on where you want to go. If you are in a wheelchair and planning your first international travel experience, you may want to consider some place that is featured as an accessible travel venue. Or perhaps you want to start out by being the first person in a wheelchair to plant a flag on the top of Mt. Everest (Let me know how that goes).

Two years ago, for our first trip overseas after my injury, we went to Israel. Israel is an amazing place to visit, very accessible and the people were incredible with any assistance that I needed. This was a trip that I helped coordinate for people with disabilities. There were five of us in wheelchairs that went on this trip. Our tour host and I spent almost two years in the planning to make the trip as seamless as possible for people in wheelchairs. We had multiple meetings and discussed every detail of the trip right down to accessible restroom facilities across the country. Guides and bus-drivers were carefully chosen, appropriate hotel accommodations, and people to assist us at every tourist point we stopped at. But, even with such careful planning, we still encountered a few unexpected speed bumps when we were there. Key word here is flexibility. If you feel that your daily routine can never be altered at all, then you may want to reconsider traveling overseas.

The one thing that made the trip to Israel so successful was the use of a tour host that listened, had firsthand knowledge of the destination and a travel agency that knew about accessible travel. That is something that I would recommend for every trip and we are doing the same thing for our cruise. We will be flying to Rome and spending a couple of days there before we begin our cruise. Then we will travel to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece and Crete. Being on the ship is going to be the easy part. The logistics that have gone into planning every detail, for every location, have been extensive. Many special arrangements have been made for me so that I will be able to participate in all of the tourist stops in each country.

Once again, I can’t stress enough for anyone to use a tour host and travel agency that are extremely familiar with accessibility concerns. I personally would not even attempt to do a trip of this magnitude on my own.

My next post is going to be all of the preparations and packing on my end that we are currently in the process of doing. Once again the key word is flexibility. Remember there is an entire world out there to see, taste, smell and experience. So put down the TV remote and start living life!

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