If you’re a person with a disability looking to travel but are uncertain about where to begin, these tips from fellow-travellers can make your experience smoother.
From time to time, we encounter individuals who embody the true essence of strength. Despite the challenges life throws their way, they demonstrate how persistence can pave the way to success.
While the world is headed towards inclusivity, making it a better place for people with disabilities to travel and see the world, mobility and accessibility can still be a hindrance.
In conversations with numerous individuals with disabilities who fearlessly travel the globe, The Better India has compiled a list of tips and tricks for people with disabilities to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
If there is a will, there is a way
Shivam Porwal, born in Ahmedabad, faced the challenges of Phocomelia syndrome—a rare condition leaving him without lower limbs and with only three fingers on each hand.
Yet, his disability didn’t hinder his passion for globetrotting. The 26-year-old adventurer has embarked on numerous road trips and engaged in adrenaline-pumping sports like zip-lining, paragliding, and skydiving.
1. His key advice? Trust yourself. When Shivam decided on a road trip with his wife, many were sceptical. However, they defied all the odds. His tips include staying hydrated with electrolytes and packing essential medications, jackets, and helmets.
2. Choosing the right vehicle is crucial for a road trip. Shivam opted for a customised Bullet, providing stability due to its weight.
3. Shivam emphasises the importance of travelling with a group for bike trips, ensuring health and safety. When he travelled from Ahmedabad to Ladakh, the group included a backup vehicle and a travelling mechanic.
‘Be open to accepting help’
A solo globetrotter, Parvinder Chawla, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis during her school years. She has travelled solo to 59 countries in her wheelchair so far.
4. Her top advice? — Never be afraid to ask for help. “Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. While I understand that the world can be intimidating, there are always good people out there willing to help,” she emphasises.
5. In terms of logistics, Parvinder stresses the importance of being prepared for various situations. “Understanding your body and its needs is crucial. Carry medicines and necessary equipment without fail,” she suggests.
6. Before travelling to a new country, she advises you to make sure you do your research. “I thoroughly examine every aspect — scrutinising the hotel, the country itself, and its wheelchair accessibility. It’s essential to call the hotel or homestay in advance to confirm if they are fully equipped to cater to the needs of a wheelchair user.”
No time like the present
Another such inspiring traveller who is on a unique mission to navigate the Ganga River in 100 days! A patient with rheumatoid arthritis with very little mobility in his fingers and left leg, Rency Thomas feels a sense of urgency with his condition and advises not to hesitate.
7. “It’s easy for people facing similar conditions like mine to lose heart and stop living. But I want to convey that it is possible. Whatever you’re dreaming, if you push yourself enough, you can achieve it,” he says.
Having a good team to back you up in such expeditions is the key to success. “Navigating the high tidal river can be hard but my team has my back and is prepared for anything,” he says.
Go solo but be safe
A patient of epilepsy, travelling for Priti Vishwakarma was always a far-fetched dream. However, the comments of society and her health could prevent her from achieving her dreams.
8. Epileptic patients often find themselves confined to their homes due to the unpredictable nature of seizures. However, this didn’t deter her. She defied the norm by establishing her own travel company — Womaniya on Roadtrips.
In sharing tips on convincing parents to embark on solo trips, she recommends assuring them of the company’s commitment to safety. With women guides and comprehensive security measures, her travel company prioritises the well-being of its clients.
Edited by Padmashree Pande