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10 lessons I’ve learnt as a disabled traveller

10 lessons I’ve learnt as a disabled traveller
Written by Travel Adventures

4. Accepting help doesn’t mean giving up freedom

My best friend joined me for the drive, following behind in a support car. His presence gave me courage when the riding got tough, and having his help in inaccessible places made life easier. Having a person with me didn’t lessen the feeling of independence and freedom I felt on the road. My younger non-disabled self saw autonomy and self-reliance as a sign of strength, but I have learnt that self-determination, agency and freedom for disabled people takes on different forms – it’s important to broaden your perception of independence, to interdependence, in order to grab freedom by the horns. Friends, carers, PAs, can enable us to live our lives on our own terms. As disabled writer Lucy Webster articulates perfectly, ‘needing and giving help are essential parts of what it means to be free.’

5. Seek out adaptations

Actively seeking out assistive technology to help open the world is beyond transformative. The hand controls on my rental car, the modifications to my CanAm, and the battery-powered wheelchair attachment have all helped me get around more easily. Without these, my adventure would have been drastically different. Seek out assistive technology – when you find it, your relationship with your Disability will improve, as will your life. You have to ask yourself: when you can still drive, ride, mountain bike and even fly as a paraplegic, what does the word disabled even mean?

6. Trust in the kindness of strangers

Throughout my ride, and in life, the kindness of strangers is a constant. Other people have been my legs countless times, and this has broken down barriers quicker than any conversation. I have trusted people to carry me, guard toilet doors when accessible ones can’t be found, fix broken equipment and rescue me when transport fails me, and after all these years, the line between stranger and potential helper has all but disappeared.


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