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We're all (not) going on a summer holiday

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Giraffe-a-licious | 12:36 UK time, Monday, 31 March 2008

I’m frustrated. Not that that’s anything new! I seem to fluctuate wildly between frustration and contentment these days. This week I am mostly being frustrated by…. my inability to travel. I want to go places; see things; meet people; soak up some sun/frolic in snow; experience a different culture; go out for meals; travel on a plane for the first time; I could go on but I expect you’ve got the gist of it!

I was having a quiet drink with some friends the other day and we got to talking about going on holiday. They wanted to hire a yacht on the Med for a week or so. Someone asked if I would be up for it. I responded by saying that it sounded like a lovely idea but that, for me at least, it was never going to happen. “Why not?” was the reply. Oh boy. As a certain Mr Shakespeare once said, “Let me count the ways.” I shan’t bore you with them all. In fact, I did the same when answering the question. Rather than get bogged down in the details I simply said that there were a million reasons why I wouldn’t be able to manage such a trip. That may have been a slight exaggeration but a million is a nice round number.

The last time that I left the country was just under 5 years ago when we had a family holiday to Northern Brittany. Since then I have invoked the use of Expedia numerous times in order to plan trips that sadly always come to naught. There are always hurdles that I haven’t thought of or difficulties I’ve put to the back of my mind. I’m not talking about wild adventures to far flung corners of the earth. I’d just like to see a few European cities or something along those lines. Don’t get me wrong, I love Britain. In fact the East Coast is one of my favourite places in the world (albeit my somewhat limited world!). There’s nothing quite like experiencing sizeable waves hitting the Southwold seafront.

How does everyone else manage it? I guess that my biggest problem is that even once I’ve dealt with all the accessibility problems associated with travelling, I’m absolutely exhausted! It would probably take me the length of the holiday to get over the journey there and ready myself for the journey home. Ah well, I must remember that I’m only 23. Who knows what the future holds? I may yet manage to make that much longed for journey. Until then I’ll just have to make so with my imaginary Expedia-enabled holidays. Never has someone used their website so much and travelled so little!

N.B. It appears that The Bard didn’t actually write, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” But ‘as a certain Mr Shakespeare said’ sounds a lot better than ‘as a certain Elizabeth Barrett Browning said’. I hope you’ll forgive me.

• Visit Ponderings and Ruminations


  • 1.
  • At 07:30 PM on 31 Mar 2008, David Gillon wrote:

Bizarrely enough, just last week my friends and I did book a couple of yachts for our summer holiday in the Canaries.

We did the same last year so I have a reasonable idea what to expect. I know that in my case I can do the travel and the sailing, but that things will be catching up on me fast by the end of the holiday. I'm definitely going to blow my pacing, and potentially it will take me months to recover back to the point I am now. But in my case I think the trade-off of pain vs experience is worth it. That trade-off is an equation we all have to work out on our own.

There are activity holidays I can't do, such as trekking. That doesn't mean there aren't others that I can, and sailing happens to be one. Equally there are things I can do, but not for a full week, whitewater rafting probably falls into that category -- a half-day of that was probably about my limit. The trick is to make the holiday fit your needs, not those of some huge holiday company.

I think part of the problem is what constitutes a 'holiday'. Other people our age go on about wanting adventure, excitement, challenges, blowing the cobwebs out, getting out of the boring everyday grind.

I've yet to find a way to explain that I get that every time I attempt to go grocery shopping by myself. It's not fun - it's frustrating and exhausting and leaves me in pain. A holiday for me would involve relaxing for a bit and NOT having to face challenges or uncertainties.

Would it be feasible to perhaps arrange to LIVE in some other city in some other country (European since you seem interested in that) for, say, six months or a year?

That way you would be there for plenty long enough to recuperate from the journey there and then have plenty of time to enjoy the sights or take a course or do a part time job (if you're up to that and if visa regulations allow) or volunteer work or whatever, but all at your own pace and in accordance to your capacity to not only do them but also still manage to get some enjoyment out of them.

I know it can be a challenge to take that much time out of one's life trajectory for a trip abroad. But people do manage to do it (though unfortunately I'm not one of them so I can't advise on details of how ... maybe the org Mobiltiy International USA would have advice--they're based in the US, but they're interested in supporting international travel opportunities for people with disabilities in general, so may have had past experience with travelers with your particular constellation of disabilities and could possibly pass along advice and ideas).

  • 4.
  • At 10:02 AM on 01 Apr 2008, Apples wrote:

It is so frustrating. I have autism and learning difficulties and I want to go to Canada to visit a friend who emigrated. But wait - I can't navigate the airport without help, and I can't even pack my bags without help now that there are all these weird rules about liquids being in 100ml containers and in plastic bags...and also needing letters from my doctor - it would be quite an administrative task just to pack correctly! And is any help available from the airline or from any organisations available for this???? NO.

Also, I have an intesstinal and liver disorder so can only eat certain foods - the airlines won't provide for people with multiple food intolerances. They only cater for individual food intolerances.

And what about when I'm in Canada, how will I get where I need to go? How will I even get out of the airport?

Also I need to fill out a form on the plan. Well, I'm dyslexic, dyspraxic and have irlen syndrome - so how exactly am I supposed to do this?

There is no help available and everyone I contact makes it clear that they think it unreasonable for me to think there should be help and unreasonable that someone 'like me' should even consider travelling.

The only option is to pay £2000 for a carer to be with me the whole time - and sorry but I don't have this kind of money.

There does seem to be an underlying idea that disabled people are unreasonable to want to travel or ever go on holiday.

I think the earlier comment about living in another city for a few months might be your best bet if you want to go travelling.

I would recommend germany mainly because they are exceptionally efficient, and also because they tend to speak really good english. This would mean you wouldn't necessarily have to worry about the language.

Don't feel to down, and focus on what you can do!! Maybe you and your friends could hire a campervan and go to france. Then you could retire whenever you want to, plus if they wanted to rush off sailing you could relax on the beach with a bookxx

  • 6.
  • At 02:00 PM on 07 Apr 2008, ginaceltia wrote:

Southwold?? that's fer posh people - have you seen the price of the beach huts? Doesn't compare to the tatt of Yarmouth, whose Golden Mile has to be the best for my favourite game - 1 hour, 1 pound - find and purchase an utterly useless item - most useless wins!

  • 7.
  • At 02:44 PM on 08 Apr 2008, mhairi gordon wrote:

i've just this minute read about an organisation which might be useful.

it's not a recommendation, i've not used them myself, but if anyone at heathrow would be helpful to travellers with disabilities, it could be these people:
Heathrow Travel Care

"...HTC also deal with people with disabilities and health problems which interfere with the smooth process of their travel..."
quote from Volunteering, the online magazine from Volunteering England

sorry, i don't have any contact details, but i guess google would help

  • 8.
  • At 02:52 PM on 08 Apr 2008, mhairi gordon wrote:

i've heard of an organisation called heathrow travel care, who might be able to provide help for those going thru heathrow

it's mainly run by volunteers, so i guess it could be a charity

i don't have any more info, i literally just read about them this minute and thought it could be relevant here as they provide help to travellers with disabilities, among other things

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