Melissa Blake is a freelance writer and blogger from the Midwest. She writes about relationships, disabilities, and pop culture, and her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Cosmo, Glamour, Redbook, The New York Times, CNN and Racked. You can read her blog, So About What I Said, and follow her on Twitter.
accessibleGO asked Melissa Blake of “So About What I Said” about her future travel dreams, past travel experiences and advice for other travelers with disabilities. Here’s what she had to say:
1) How often do you travel?
My parents made sure that my sister and I grow up having lots of travel adventures! We traveled twice a year (in the summer and at Christmas) to visit my grandparents in Alabama. We’d drive down there any always stop at places along the way, like Nashville or the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. My parents wanted each trip to be fun and educational, and those trips are some of my favorite childhood memories. We also flew to Disney World when I was 13 for a Make-A-Wish trip, which was exciting since I’d never been there before.
It’s interesting because being on vacation with my family was one of the only times growing up when I didn’t have to think about my disability or worry about an upcoming surgery. It was a time when I could be just me and that was such a special gift my parents gave me!
2) What was your favorite travel experience and why?
My favorite travel experience was going to NYC for the first time in 2002. It was the last trip our family took before my father’s death the following year, and it was so nice to explore the city with him and see all the sights!
3) Have you experienced major difficulties in travel? What is your biggest fear about travel? How do you get around this?
Surprisingly, travel hasn’t been too difficult. My wheelchair comes apart, so we’ve always been able to store it in the car. And when we fly, the airlines have always been very helpful in making sure I get on the plane and my wheelchair is waiting for me when we land.
My biggest fear about travel is accessibility issues — some places are definitely more wheelchair-friendly than others. I’ve never encountered too much of a problem, but it’s something I need to take into account on my travels.
4) Is there a place you are longing to visit and what draws you to this place?
I’d love to go to Europe someday! My mom went to Paris this summer and she loved it. I’ve never been to Europe and would love to see the history in someplace like Italy…and, of course, sample all the delicious food!!
5) What’s your advice for people who are traveling with disability?
Advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need something. And definitely plan ahead. Ask about accessibility when you book hotels or flight reservations.
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