I love to travel but it’s not always easy when you travel in a wheelchair (or your companion does). My husband Peter and I are 48-year-old city dwellers, with three kids (Patrick is 17, Marianne is 15 and Delia is 12) and a 4-year-old adopted basset hound named Seamus (who at times seems harder to bring places than a wheelchair). Marianne, our middle child, has spina bifida and uses a power wheelchair for mobility.
My husband works in the tech world, and his experience with technology is helpful when it comes to a) facilitating the travel experience and b) helping me get my blog off the ground to spread my specific type of travel news to others. The internet has changed the travel world immeasurably and especially so for travelers with differing mobility abilities.
For years we limited our travel to road trips to visit family in the Washington, DC area. Once a year we’d venture forth in our minivan and tag on days to our family visit, hitting places of interest along the way to DC. About 5 years ago, we branched out and starting traveling by (gasp!) airplane. I was hesitant about taking this step (What if the airline breaks the wheelchair? How do we manage the bathroom with Marianne? What if Marianne gets sick while we’re away? What if we need to escape a crowd in an emergency with a kid in a wheelchair? Will we be so exhausted when we return that we’ll need respite care? Etc. etc.)
I’m happy to report that not only did we enjoy our first trip by airplane (to Switzerland, no less!) that we added on several more trips (Key West, Florida; Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada; Deer Valley, UT; and Boise, ID). I’ve learned that it’s not only do-able but enjoy-able to travel with a wheelchair: part of the fun is figuring out how to make it work and the other part is who you meet along the way.
The goal of TravelByWheelchair is to share our family experiences of traveling with a teen-ager using a wheelchair and to make it easier for others like her (and us) to venture forth. Any of you remember “The Mork and Mindy Show”? To quote Mork, “Fly, be free!”