Wheelchair users and other individuals who have disabilities are often intimidated by the prospect of travel. They think, “It’s not worth the trouble.” or “What if my destination isn’t wheelchair accessible?” These are normal thoughts to have, especially if you’re a wheelchair user and have had trouble traveling in the past. However, 25-year-old Cory Lee of Lafayette, Georgia, doesn’t let his fear of the world curb his travel. He explores the globe and answers questions about traveling via a wheelchair on his accessible travel blog, addressing the fears and doubts that come along with exploration and teaching other wheelchair users how they too can be “curb-free”.
“I started traveling when I was 4 years old,” Lee explains.“ As a kid, my mom and I took a lot of road trips together. We would go to Florida, Washington D.C. and anywhere along the East coast.”
At the age of two, Lee was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which is a genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement. He got his first wheelchair at age four, but he didn’t let his new set of wheels keep him from the thing he is most passionate about -- his love for world exploration.
As a child, trips were much easier. “Because my mom and I took mostly road trips when I was younger, we were able to learn what worked and what didn’t,” Lee explains. “Ultimately, traveling as a child in a wheelchair helped me better prepare for my travels today, and know what to expect.” At 15-years-old, Lee visited his first foreign country and the list has grown from there, but his journey hasn’t come without obstacles.
“Australia is one destination that stands out to me when I look back at my travels,” Lee explains. “Australia was the first dream destination that I was able to visit. This trip was a combination of my birthday and graduation gift, which made it even that much more special. Sydney, Australia was a very accessible city. I found accessible taxis, ferries and even the local attractions were designed to have a smooth entrance."
In December 2013, Lee launched the website Curb Free with Cory Lee. He posts articles and tips on some of the most wheelchair accessible trips he’s taken, as well as the ones that were not so easy to make. He has resources available that include some of his favorite travel apps, wheelchair accessible activities in a variety of cities and much more. For wheelchair users who are concerned about the obstacles they may face when traveling to a new destination, there’s no need to worry. Cory Lee has you covered, providing website visitors with city-specific hotel and restaurant accessibility reviews, as well as traveling advice.
Before booking a trip, Lee goes through several steps that include making sure that the hotel he is staying in is fully accessible, and that wheelchair-accessible transportation is available. He stresses the importance of planning and working out the details before booking a trip. The first step he likes to take is researching his chosen destination online.
“Google is a great starting point,” Lee explains. When researching a destination, keep in mind that transportation is one of the most important features to have planned in advance before traveling.
Next, you will want to call hotels and ask about their room accessibility. To some hotels, “accessible” means having an elevator and nothing more. Because of this, it’s important that you know the right questions to ask before calling.
“When I went to Paris, I didn’t do as much research as I should’ve before booking my trip,” Lee explains. “There was virtually no accessible transportation available for me when I arrived. There was one accessible vehicle available for rent in all of Paris, and it cost 600 euros [~$667 USD] for one full day. I don’t recommend traveling to an area you haven’t researched beforehand. I want wheelchair users to know that they aren’t limited. If you want to go somewhere, then go. Just be sure and gather the right information before booking.” From Paris to Australia, California and Amsterdam, there’s no slowing Cory Lee down. He sets no limitations, and he lives a life of discovery, encouraging others to pursue their passion regardless of whether or not they have a disability. “Ultimately, I would always rather go on a trip and wish I hadn’t, then to not go and wonder if I should’ve gone,” Lee says with a wishful smile.
For more information on accessible travel tips and destinations, and to hear from other wheelchair users about their favorite travel spots, visit Curb Free With Cory Lee at http://www.curbfreewithcorylee.com/.
Or, to follow Cory Lee on Facebook, go to https://www.facebook.com/CurbFree?fref=ts
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This author has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. 1506-47