1) How did your passion for traveling begin? trip ability
Oh this is all down to my parents. As children we were extremely fortunate to have travelled extensively on family holidays. My father was also a specialist engineer and would travel frequently with work and I had the opportunity to go with him when school was out. I suppose the biggest difference between then and now, was that I didn’t have a disability as a child.
2) What made you decide to start Trip-Ability and can you explain a bit about what it is?
Travelling with my own family – now being a wheelchair user, is a mine field of inaccurate information. I wanted my family to enjoy travelling every bit as much as any other family. Many places I had visited before, I realised presented problems for accessibility, but I enquired of them and also researched on the web site about how to manage these difficulties. What was most frustrating was the total rubbish that was often written in accessibility statements for lots of accommodation and tourist destinations. It was this that gave me the idea to begin trip-ability.com I wanted to share my experiences and also ask others to share theirs with others too.
3) What is the most wheelchair friendly place that you have traveled to?
This is a tough question for several reasons. Some places have good hotels and good places to visit but terrible public transport, like Rome in Italy or New York City in the USA. All things considered I think it would be London in England, there are good hotels for different budgets, black cabs and buses are pretty good, although the underground is pretty poor. There are a great number of museums, theatres and restaurants to visit.
4) What is the least accessible place that you have traveled to?
This is easy, it is most definitely Edinburgh in Scotland. An old city that has many obstacles for a wheelchair user. Poor hotel access, streets and pavements that are difficult to navigate. Many cobblestones and lots of high curbs and steep hills.
5) What kind of problems have you came across while traveling in a chair? How did you overcome them?
Oh well these are varied and I suppose you need to have a sense of humour otherwise you’d go completely mad. Being forgotten and left on a plane at London Heathrow Airport was pretty bad as it meant I missed a connecting flight to Los Angeles. However I did get upgraded to first class on British Airways, which is a real amazing experience. I think the best attribute that combines all of us living with a disability is that we’re good problem solvers. Steep hills and steps are rough but the worst was a puncture whilst on my on my own, on 7th Avenue in NYC. People walked by me so quickly they didn’t want to listen after about 20 minutes I just wheeled myself into the middle of the Avenue in front of all the traffic and stopped there until someone called the NYPD.
6) What are some of the top things on your bucket list?
I think I’d like to try cruising for something relaxing though I’ve always liked activity holidays and would really love to try white water rafting down a river and camping along the river.
7) Do you have any tips for other wheelchair users that might think traveling isn’t possible for them?
The world is a big place and there are lots of good accessible destinations out there, with a little research, they’re good to get to. Don’t be afraid of what might happen, in my experience fellow humans in most places have a want to help attitude and will do everything in their power to help. Besides websites like mine, sending emails to the tourism offices of the cities or countries that you would like to visit is always a good place to start.
8) Most importantly, where to next?
Our next vacation was designed by my children, Georgia who is 11 and Noah who is 9. We live in Ireland and they love to watch American shows like NCIS, CSI and Law and Order! Plus they love history and educational trips so we’re heading to NYC as they have never been and then we’re using AMTRAK to get to Philadelphia to learn about the origins of the USA. Then onto Washington DC, where we want to see the White House, but more importantly the Smithsonian Museum before finally heading to Orlando, Florida for the Universal, Disney experience as well as a must see for Noah to Kennedy Space Centre.
Learn more about Michael and Trip-Ability by visiting the website, Facebook page, or on Twitter.