We recently heard from Emma, titular writer, traveller and blogger behind Simply Emma, who was kind enough to share some experiences with us.
The Scotland-based blogger is known as one of the UK’s leading disability bloggers and infuses her shining perspective in all of her posts, sharing accessible travel tips and personal reviews. Follow her on Instagram to see the places she visits, the live music she sees and plenty of adorable photos of her cat, Milo.
We talked to Emma about her favorite methods of travel, why she won’t be going on a boat any time soon and the importance of having backup plans.
What’s your favorite method of travel and why do you prefer it?
It really depends on where I’m going and what I plan to do. If I’m at home then I prefer to travel using my wheelchair accessible car (WAV). I love road trips so I will also use my WAV when I’m travelling around the UK as it’s a lot easier and more convenient. I can bring everything I need without worrying about weight limits, etc. If I’m traveling to Europe then I much prefer to travel by plane. Although I really want to try the Eurostar — I’ve heard so many great things about it.
Are there any means of travel that you avoid at all costs?
I haven’t found a means of travel that I’ve hated (yet). However, my past few experiences on boats resulted in my caregivers being really sick, so I think I’m going to try and avoid travel that involves boats or at least until I find another carer that doesn’t suffer seasickness.
Do you recommend any specific airlines or travel companies for travellers in wheelchairs?
If flying within the UK or Europe, then my first choice is always easyJet. They have always been very accommodating of my wheelchair and needs. I’ve even been able to use the Eagle Lifter on their aircrafts (a device that assists people with limited mobility move from wheelchair to airplane seat). I’ve also flown to America many times with different airlines, but my experience with Virgin Atlantic always stands out as one of the best.
Have any industries in particular been slow to accommodate for accessibility?
Most industries have been slow to accommodate for accessibility in some way. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness and campaign for better access, treatment and facilities. There is always room for improvement.
What items are in your emergency travel kit?
I always like to make a plan before I travel, and sometimes that plan has a backup plan because I like to be prepared in case something doesn’t work out. My plans will include important phone numbers for taxi companies, our hotel, insurance, repair shops as well as information on how to get from A and B, including accessible metro stations etc.
Who do you usually travel with?
I usually travel with my partner as he is my main caregiver. Family sometimes travels with us too, which is always lovely, especially as I love creating memories with my nephew.
What type of trip do you seek out? Are you after rest and relaxation or adventure?
Always adventure. I love city breaks and places that involve exploring the area. I’ve never been the type of person that enjoys relaxing by the pool. I always want to be out and about, seeing and doing as much as possible. I’ve tried skiing, wheelchair abseiling, zip lining and even a beach wheelchair in Barcelona.
What destinations have been your favorite?
I recently visited Barcelona for the first time and fell completely in love with it. I just loved everything about the city. Barcelona has fantastic wheelchair accessibility and great public transport links. It’s a place I will visit time and time again.
What made these places so special to you?
Apart from being incredibly accessible, Barcelona also has a great feel about it. The people are lovely, the weather is pretty much good at all times, there are always things to do and it’s so beautiful no matter where you look.
What goes into your planning that young families or new caregivers might not consider before their first trip?
When looking for accessible hotels, I always speak to the hotel directly and ask any questions I have about accessibility. I sometimes ask for photos of the accessible room and bathroom if there aren’t any on the website or if I want to double check it’s going to meet my needs. Once I book the hotel, I’ll then do as much research as I can into accessible things to see and do, public transport and accessible taxis. If I can’t find the information I need from their websites, then I’ll email or call them directly or ask questions on accessible travel groups/forums or look on other disabled travel blogs for advice and recommendations.
When you arrive somewhere, how do you find accessible transportation?
I always do my research before I travel as this prevents any problems when I arrive at my destination. I once travelled to Prague without doing any research into accessible taxis only to find out as I arrived that there were no accessible taxi companies. The airport also didn’t have any wheelchair accessible buses that would allow me to stay in my wheelchair. After waiting hours in the airport, we finally had to give in and use a standard 7-seater style van, which meant I had to be lifted from my wheelchair and sit in a normal seat while four men tried to lift my heavy wheelchair into the boot of the van. Then the same thing happened again when we arrived at our hotel and vice versa at the end of our trip when heading back to the airport. I learned my lesson after that trip and I now always do my research before I travel. I like to make sure I have my airport transfers pre-booked.