My journeys have spanned decades, though most of my accounts are recently written. As a young man in the forces, I was able with relative freedom to explore Asia. As a youngish man I was able to expand my range to North America and Britain. But as I entered “Middle Years,” I have had increasing mobility issues, but nonetheless persist in my enjoyment of travel.
I still occasionally make “day trips” on cheap flights to the Continent to follow-up on my research interests in Holocaust Studies. But with my wife, have taken to more low key explorations of the UK, and begun taking cruises.
Cruising for someone with limited mobility is a blessing. Your hotel travels with you. Meals are provided, and once boarded the queues of budget airlines become a distant memory from the past. With advanced planning and some recourse to offered excursions, interesting things can still be seen and cultures explored. On non-excursion days with some advanced planning, (with the help of others’ travel blogs and TripAdvisor) good eateries and out of the way sites can be accessed via taxi or in some cases even public transport (thank you all you bloggers that post about routes).
Day travel in the UK and via budget flights makes for some different experiences. In Britain advanced planning and a disabled “Blue Badge” go a long way. We recently started a programme of visiting “ancient pubs and coaching inns” (the subject of a future blog I hope). These provide wonderful atmosphere, a sense of history, and “some mighty fine eats” as well.
This brings us to budget flights. Okay, with disabled assistance in the airports this is usually not an issue. Yes, you need to check-in early. But, for the effort you usually get to your gate with little or no walking. Usually! I do remember arriving in a regional airport in eastern Poland, and the there being only one wheelchair in the entire place. It was rickety and well overused. Discomfort aside, the local officials did decide that even those with disability stand and walk through the securities checks. Fair enough, with a stick I can manage.
Planning is everything when travelling with mobility issues. Knowing the location of taxi ranks, and the designations of bus routes is essential. Once “in country” Hop on, Hop off services are great for getting a feel of the place. It allows an overview of a city without even having to get out. This reconnaissance done, priorities can be set of places to go back to. A quick internet search will usually aid in accessibility information as well, especially for museums and other “tourist friendly” venues.
Going off the beaten path isn’t as easy, but still possible. Allow time, have the number of a taxi firm and some local currency (as a backup), and go for it. Thus far it has worked for me.
My ultimate word of encouragement – never give up exploring.
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