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About the author

About the author extra photo

As a child I travelled extensively. In ‘those’ days my Dad and Mum were thought to be quite radical, foolish and one person even labeled my Dad ‘irresponsible’ for leaving his job and taking me out of school for six months to travel to Europe, Egypt and Scandinavia. These days overseas travel for kids is a lot more ‘the norm’, maybe not for as long but certainly from my experience kids travel more.

Travelling with my family gave me a real love for travel despite going through every church, museum and going to every monument in Europe. I might add it did give me a good education and an understanding of the world outside of my Year 4 classroom!

In my 20’s I started working as a travel consultant for a company that did corporate and special interest travel. I found myself ‘specialising’ in travel that was actually really foreign to me! Surfing tours (I didn’t know my right hand wave from my left, or what a goofy footer was!) Garden tours and Holyland tours! What a mix. Life was certainly never dull!

I had surfers putting their passports through the wash and bringing them in wrinkled and unusable despite drying them out in the microwave! Then on the other extreme, older ladies (mainly) keen to follow the garden trails to the best flowers throughout Europe, UK and USA. Finally a group lead by a priest who braved going to the middle east despite the unrest and during their travels being issued with gas masks which caused reasonable concern.

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While working I travelled for work and pleasure, taking advantage of the discounted travel. Travel isn’t paid well so you tend to take advantage of the discounted travel.

During these travels I got stuck on a remote island in the Philippines during a typhoon and lived to tell the tale of being in Hawaii during Hurricane Iniki. All making for great travel stories on our return but hair-raising at the time.

My passport during this time sported many many stamps as I entered and exited the country joyfully. Falling pregnant with our son I planned to return to work part time and continue to travel with him as my parents had done with me.

Our focus and priorities shifted rather significantly when our son was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at five months of age. We were immersed into a foreign world which revolved around Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech Pathologists and eye therapy. I always remember the social worker at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (formerly known as the Spastic Centre) handing me a poem which drew a comparison between having a child with a disability to landing at a different destination than you had expected (ie landing in Holland instead of Italy for which you had booked)

At the time I really didn’t feel like I related to the poem at all. I didn’t feel I was in an exotic country but I guess in hindsight I understand. Sixteen years down the track I certainly know I am a better person for having a child with a disability. I try not to take things for granted and we certainly have seen much kindness from people. Do I wish our son didn’t have a disability?  You bet! In saying that he is a gorgeous boy, who is happy and loving and through his disability we have made lifelong friendships with people we have met along the way. We still struggle each day to feel we have done our absolute best and there are times that are difficult. We are fortunate though to have great friends and family who are there to help make those times a bit lighter and brighter.

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I have so much information to share it is hard to know where to begin. I guess where you will start is either booking your trip yourself on line or going via a travel agent. We’ve travelled twice to the US as a family and on our first trip had a travel agent who didn’t know anything about disability but was very willing to learn and incredibly service orientated making it a dream booking. The second trip we didn’t have the same success. Being an ex travel consultant I understand that a consultant can’t know every hotel.  If they haven’t experienced someone travelling with a wheelchair they will have to learn along the way but you do need someone with a level of experience to be able to put together a hassle free holiday.

Keep in mind even then things can always go wrong when you travel.
Check, double check and check again is my motto!

 




10 thoughts on “About the author”

  1. I found this site through a facebook group. I’m a mother of two girls with a debilitating form of dwarfism, and another “average” girl. We are moving from Hong Kong to the Hills district in Sydney within the next few months and are looking forward to settling in. I’m glad to have found this site as we will in the future be travelling with not one, but TWO wheelchairs! We’ll have to figure out bathroom modifications and car modifications, and so many other things as well! Nice to “meet” you!

    Reply
    • Hi Nicole, It is lovely to “meet” you too. I can’t imagine moving from Hong Kong to Sydney and reestablishing all the services etc you will need for your two girls. I am more than happy to share information with you being a fellow Sydney based family with special needs. Feel free to email me havewchairwilltravel@gmail.com or privately message me on our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/havewheelchairwilltravel. We have a very helpful community on the page who would also be a great resource for you. Take care and please touch base. Julie

      Reply
  2. Hi Julie,
    My name is Robyn Moody and I have two sons with a degenerative neuromuscular condition, Leigh’s Disease. They are 30 and 28, albeit we were told at age 7 and 5 that we would probably lose them before they reached their teens. Well they are still with us today and each day is a blessing. In saying this they can walk very small distances but do rely on manual wheelchairs 98% of the time. They socialise regularly and those who meet them, fall in love with them immediately, it is like watching a game of tennis listening to them talk. I was reading about your family and the Multi Terrain wheelchairs in the Focus magazine whilst on holidays in Port Macquarie, my parents live there. In their younger days we too had taken them to the USA, Fiji, Hong Kong and most recently Bali, all with their manual chairs. Whilst it is not easy, you do the best you can. Our daughter is currently residing in the UK and we are hoping to travel there next August/September for about 7 weeks. Our intentions are to do about a 3 week tour of England, Scotland and Ireland and then my hubby and I hopefully 4 weeks in Europe, of which we will probably fly the boys back home as I am not sure what travelling with them will be like around Europe. From what we have heard Europe can be tricky for accessibility. I read you were a travel agent prior to having your children and I was wondering if you are still in touch with colleagues or still have your finger in the pie to give some advice. I am just not sure whether it would be best to do a bus tour of the UK or should we try and drive ourselves given we have two wheelchairs. Then their is the issue of Europe. I have tried googling but their doesn’t seem to be much info regarding travelling with people with a disability in Europe.
    Do you know of any travel agents that specialise in tours or bookings for people with a disability that can help us plan and manage our trip?
    Robyn

    Reply
    • Hi Robyn,

      Sorry for the delayed reply. We have been holidaying on the South Coast at a place called Bawley Point which is beautiful but we had no phone service! A tad difficult with a website and Facebook page but a nice break.

      Lovely to hear from you and to learn more about your sons and travel plans.

      Firstly let me point you in the direction of Accomable and Disability Horizons. These have been set up by two friends who are both wheelchair users. They are based in London so lots of their travels take them to Europe. Accomable is an AirBnb style website but for people with a disability. Using their site I’d imagine you could do a self-drive tour of the UK. I recently was chatting to a manager at Trafalgar Tours about accessible bus tours and the need for them. To my knowledge this isn’t available as yet. I think two wheelchairs would be tricky though if they fold you’d have a better chance. I’m a fan of doing my own thing and I’d think it would be easier to find something to suit all ages that way.

      As for Europe, it is tricky because of the cobblestones. We have one of our Facebook friends who has travelled extensively and she provided lots of info on Rome on Facebook. She has a very able friend who travels with her and he is prepared to carry her upstairs or whatever it takes.

      Take a look at Accomable and the blogs on Disability Horizons though and see if they are any help.

      Thanks for taking the time to make contact.

      We love the Port Macquarie area. I’ve been a regular at Lake Cathie since I was a child. It’s our second home but unfortunately we can’t find accommodation there that suits our needs any more. Now we stay in Port Macquarie instead but visit the lake each time.

      Take care and let us know how you go.

      Best wishes,

      Julie

      Reply
  3. What an amazing site. I have spina bifida and I love traveling and have had the good fortune to be able to travel quite often overseas. I have had some terrific experiences and I have also had some downright awful ones. I am very active and I don’t let my disability stop me from doing anything. I love going on “walks” so finding out about wheelchair accessible places is great. I love websites like these. Thank you for the brilliant job that you are doing and helping people like myself.

    Reply
    • Hi Tanya,

      Thanks so much for such a lovely and enthusiastic comment. It is great that ideas can be shared across the world and information can reach people who may otherwise feel isolated.

      Keep up the travel and we are always happy to see photos and info shared on our Facebook page.

      Julie

      Reply
  4. Hi Julie

    So glad to see a website up such as yours. If you don’t mind, I will be sending people to your site when next I am asked about travelling with a wheelchair.

    When David my son who had MND was still with us we tried to travel every year to somewhere different so that he could experience as much as possible.

    I just saw the article re Travel with a Wheelchair and it brought me back to all those silly questions that were asked. People don’t seem to understand the difference between Disabled Access, Disabled Amenities and Disabled Facilities which every hotel seems to have different versions. Try getting an extra room with interconnecting doors to the Disabled room – near impossible.

    Congratulation on not only doing the hard yards with travelling but also putting it up in a website.

    Regards

    Deborah

    Reply
    • Hi Deborah,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. For people who don’t have a family member with accessibility needs I think it’s hard for them to understand what’s needed. I hope we educate along the way when we travel.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment and for spreading the word about the website.

      Julie

      Reply
  5. Having tutored kids with disabilities (challenges?), I was pleased to find your site with helpful information of places to go that are sensitive to various situations. And lovely photos! Hope this new year is a good one for you and your family.

    Reply

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