I’m off to the Gold Coast next week for the ProBlogger conference. Imagine, 4 days all for me – no washing or cooking! The conference brings together people from all around the world, who love writing about their passions through blogging. The event is another opportunity for me to share my passion for accessible and inclusive tourism.
The organisers have set attendees a challenge to write a blog post about what inspires us about our blog, or what inspires us to blog. Lucky for me, I am constantly inspired by the Have Wheelchair Will Travel community. So, here’s my story.
THE ACCIDENTAL BLOGGER
People often ask me why I started Have Wheelchair Will Travel. When I look back it seems an obvious fit. I worked as a travel consultant and BJ was born with cerebral palsy resulting in him needing a wheelchair to get around. I always imagined we’d travel as a family and suddenly we had a situation which I saw as an obstacle to travelling. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the positive me to kick in and we started travelling and finding our way around, what we like to call, tricky situations.
When we had a dream holiday to Disneyland and it was a rip roaring success I felt I had to share my research and tips. It was a simple idea which grew into sharing our weekend outings and any other fabulous finds. As the blog grew I acknowledged that travel is a “sometimes activity” for most people so I started to throw in a few personal stories and information on how we were travelling through day-to-day situations. The enthusiasm with which the blog was received inspired me to keep going and I realised that in some small way, this little blog I created, was fulfilling a need for people. It was connecting people across the globe who were happy to share ideas and experiences, making navigating the world of disability a little easier for some.
Life isn’t always sunshine and roses at home and there have been times I’ve started to lose my blogging mojo. When Hubby is away for work and I’m sleep deprived it’s hard to be positive and enthusiastic about my writing. It’s at these times that messages like Jess’s keep me going. She recently wrote, “I found several activities through this blog, and was just overall inspired to go out there and travel. Seeing how many things you guys have done, and the challenges you’ve overcome when things haven’t quite gone to plan definitely inspired to “just do it!”” It is almost a guarantee that I’ll receive a message like Jess’s just when I need it and it’s enough to spur me on.
The website and blog have provided an unexpected platform. A platform where I have been able to share stories like Sam who lives with Vanishing White Matter Disease. His family are doing all they can to ensure he lives a full life while raising the profile of VWM. And it was an honour to share little Mia’s story of Batten Disease and their family’s Bounce 4 Batten campaign. These families are keen to raise awareness for these little known diseases which need more research and funding to ensure families in the future don’t have the pain of watching their children only have “years, not decades” to live.
HWWT has also given me the chance to speak with tourism boards, hotels and attractions about small changes they can make to ensure their facilities are inclusive and accessible to all. I’ve also been thrilled to write for mainstream publications about accessible travel. We need to see images of people living with a disability travelling and living a full life, hopefully eventually changing society’s attitude and preconceived ideas.
THE POWER OF IMAGES
As much as I love sharing our story in written form, photos are a powerful medium. Seeing an ordinary family like ours getting out and having fun hopefully shows you what is possible. I use lots of photos in my blogs so you can weigh up what is doable for you or your family.
As you will see from the slideshow below, we love taking every opportunity to get BJ out and about.
BUILDING A COMMUNITY
As much as we love sharing our travels I always hoped to build a sense of community and you guys have delivered. When our family have had something to celebrate, you’ve celebrated with us, when I’ve shared a vulnerability or a tough time, I’ve felt you give me a global hug and in return you’ve shared. Many of you have joyously shared your travels, your achievements and on occasion your own struggles. I’ve shed a tear reading some of your emails and been on cloud nine when I’ve read that our information has helped in some small way. Hearing from you guys keeps me inspired to look for more opportunities to share with you. You’ve helped build this platform and we are excited to continue to share ideas and try to positively influence the travel industry.
So, there you have it. Have Wheelchair Will Travel has grown and evolved over the last 4 years and I’m proud of where it is now. Your support of both our family and the concept of inclusive and accessible travel continues to keep me inspired to blog.