Wheeling Through London: A Good Experience
By: Ted Bodenheimer, ATBF Peer Mentor
My name is Ted and I am a T4 paraplegic. On May 19, 2003, my wife, Carol, and I traveled to London, England, for five days. Travel is never easy and this was the first trip to Europe since my accident in 1994.
Prior to our visit, I had visualized London as a very difficult city to navigate. We were determined, however, and as it turned out, London is incredibly generous to people traveling in wheelchairs.
Throughout our trip, Carol and I encountered elements designed to make the travel experience as pleasant and streamlined as possible. A high-speed train with wheelchair-accessible seating was available to speed us to London from Heathrow Airport. Upon arrival at our hotel, we were pleased to discover that the property included 18 rooms modified for people who travel in wheelchairs. Getting around London was also a pleasure, as sidewalks have curb cuts, buses have lifts, and taxis often carry small ramps that are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Another added bonus is that almost all the museums and other attractions are free or greatly discounted for the disabled.
Needless to say, the trip was a great success and we saw and learned a lot. If you want to plan a trip to London and would like some first-hand tips, please feel free to contact me via the Alan T Brown Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel Can Be A Daunting Process If You Are Not Prepared
By: Eric Muhlrad, Secretary of the Board & ATBF Peer Mentor
Traveling, for some, is a daunting process. The lines, security, and cost are just a few of the concerns that need to be dealt with. Traveling for business only enhances these difficulties. Not only do you have the normal concerns, but now one must also focus on how to be effective rather than being ineffective and doing nothing on a vacation. Are you cringing at the thought of this yet? Now imagine adding all their concerns of doing this while having a spinal cord injury.
Many members of the Alan T Brown Foundation, including Alan and myself, are required to do this on a monthly basis as part of our job responsibilities. While this has led to many great adventures and experiences, it is a process that presents many easily overcome-able challenges. The best piece of advice I can give is to create a list. The highlight of ATBF is sharing this info. Just like you have a list of items you need to pack, have a checklist of all the questions to ask and things to prepare ahead of time. I am not talking about medical supplies. Those are like remembering to pack my underwear or toothbrush. I am talking about the hotel room, seat on a flight or transportation once you reach your destination. Ask questions, LOTS of questions. Does the hotel room have a roll in shower? You will be surprised about how many actually do. Call the airline. Tell them you want bulkhead or first row seating. You normally get more leg room and it is easier to get to. Can you rent a wheelchair accessible van? Can they pick you up at the airport? In the past, I have chosen to drive 7 hours just because it would be easier to have my wheelchair accessible van than deal with flying and rentals; not to mention, less expensive as well.
Having as many of the comforts that you have at home will make traveling much easier to deal with. The key to all of this is to have the list ready. You are going to forget things. Trust me because I have a lot of trip experience to draw from. Add to the list all the time. See something you like, write it down. Get the company name. Maybe this could help you at home. It is surprising to see how easily available these items are. If you cannot find it on your own, call your local medical store, they will be more than happy to help.
Eric Muhlrad serves as the Secretary of the Board and is a valued member of the Alan T Brown Foundation. Eric suffered a spinal cord injury in 1993 and is Peer Mentor for the Foundation’s Outreach & Peer Mentoring Program. Eric is the Vice President of Business Development and International Sales at Remee Products Corporation as well as owner of Sports Fitness & Fun.