Vote for the winner to be featured in Accessible Journeys magazine!

The time has come to vote for the winner to be featured in Accessible Journeys magazine!

Voting is open TODAY, September 1st, through September 6th and we will announce the winner on September 7th.

  • The first place grand prize winner will be featured in Accessible Journeys and receive a $200 gift card to use at IZ Adaptive
  • The second prize winner will receive a $200 gift card to use at IZ Adaptive

We had 6 eligible entries based on our giveaway rules here, so we’ve decided to open up voting to all 6!

Now it’s up to our accessibleGO community to decide. The entry with the most votes will be deemed the grand prize winner and the second most votes will be deemed the second prize winner.

Please vote only once! (submissions for each entrant can be found in comments below and in original Forum post)

  • hita1lopez
  • mabscall
  • derekegarner
  • gbeanster40
  • julievandusen
  • pekkapaavonpera

0 voters

hita1lopez

I’m a 56 yr old Blind Mom of a 12 yr old child has multiple disabilities including (Autism,IDD, Tourette’s) just to name a few. My husband is a 62 yr old Vet with with PTSD and foot problems due to War. I also help my elderly parents who also have disabilities ie. Mobility issues heart disease, diabetes, fibromyalgia, a mild case of Parkinson’s and arthritis. With that said I am not only blind I too have arthritis , asthma, and I’m suffering from post Covid I’ve developed other disabilities. However that’s why I believe I should be on this cover I’ve learn to advocate not just for myself but for my family I don’t let my disabilities get in my way from getting things done and we love to travel I especially help my husband put up and take down our tent and canopy I also help him navigate when he’s driving. He’s loosing his hearing also due to being in the Military. Taking care of my family Is very stressful however I believe that my Lord doesn’t give me what I can’t handle he gives me what I need to help me get strong my child especially needs me she functions on a 4 yr old Level and doesn’t understand I’m blind nor what it means to be blind so I need to function get by things done. Being or having a disability is just a way of life to me it just means doing and living life a little different. I love my life Thanks fir a chance I hope I win. Alice a Proud Blind mom of a child with Autism

1 Like

mabscall

My name is Marianne BItner. I am a 71 year old retired firefighter/paramedic with handicaps but loves to travel and been fortunate enough to do that my whole life.

As some of us have one handicap while other may have several handicaps to manage. We still all dream, research, plan and prepare for that vacation/trip or tour from our bucket list.

Sometimes it takes years to make our plans for that trip of a lifetime and we might of checked and rechecked that our handicap(s) aren’t going to be an issue. We probably even checked with the tour companies, transportation services, hotels, cruise companies etc. We personally want to be sure we can complete what might be necessary to enjoy our trip. During this preparation we have tried to talk with everyone and they all have been advised of our needs and expectations multiple times. We finally make those last minute rechecks to assure ourselves that everything is ready so the plans will be smooth. Let me tell you about an experience I had a few years back and I hope it just shows what can and did happen.

My best friend, Suzanne, is also my travel assistant because of my mobility issues and my Type 2 diabetes. We planned a 2 month marathon trip starting in Fairbanks, Alaska for a ground tour and inside glacier cruise for 12 days. We finished the cruise in Vancouver, Canada where we took a bus to Whistler, Canada for 3 days. Back to Vancouver by bus to board another cruise going to Hawaii and onto the South Pacific islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora, Fiji and ending in Sydney, Australia. This part of the trip worked perfectly with my walker with the seat and wheels. We only had one minor problem/ glitch. When getting onto a Gold Rush paddle boat in Fairbanks. I hadn’t thought of the rocking movement of the floating dock. I went to sit down on my walker seat to rest while they were loading us onto the paddle boat. I lost my balance and fell over off my walker and nearly ended up going for a swim in the cold river water in Fairbanks. This part of the trip was in early September and we had snow the night before. Brrr, I come from Florida so I can’t take much cold weather or cold water.

The bus transportation and cruises were perfect because they are prepared for handicap patrons with different handicap requirements. I always find the cruise operators and staff to be helpful and kind. If only everyone treated us with the same respect.

After arriving in Sydney the hotels rooms were handicapped assessable and I found Sydney and most of Australia and New Zealand very handicap friendly. Curb cut outs every street, handicap ramps at the store and hotel entrances, many taxis had scooter loading ramps and included not getting off the scooter for the taxis ride and most of the venues and restaurants were handicap assessable as the normal and not the exception.

Because it was more convenient to rent a scooter on my arrival in Sydney for the tours we had planned over the next three weeks then bring to mine for the beginning trip. Be sure to notify the airlines that your will be flying with an electric scooter. Additionally you need to know what type of battery the scooter uses to be able to fly with it in the cargo compartment of the airlines. Didn’t know that before my first flight from Sydney to Melbourne. Thanks to a nice airline check in agent who helped me find that information on the battery pack.

Once we arrived in Melbourne to meet our tour group for our 3 week land tour of Australia and New Zealand. This is where it went all wrong. I must say up front that I had verified several times with the tour company about my handicaps and if it was an issue for the tour we selected. I was told “no problem as long as I had help”. We arrived in the meeting place the first morning of the tour and the tour guide approached me and Suzanne. She asked us to come outside in the atrium of the hotel that we all were staying at in Melbourne. The tour guide looked at me and said you will hold up the tour group of 21 people with my mobility issues and I couldn’t go on the tour. I said why when she hadn’t even given me a chance to try to keep up with the tour group. I continued to tell her the tour company knew of my limitations and approved my participation. The tour guide said “I don’t care what they told you and I make the final decision who can go” and you aren’t going. She walked away and joined the others going on the tour with her. Suzanne and I stood there feeling like we had been sucker punched in the stomach but that soon then turned to anger.

Imagine you are halfway around the world with no hotel, or plane reservations or tours. The tour company we were booked with was in Boston, Massachusetts and closed because of the 12 hour time difference. So no help from them. Tour guide gone out the hotel door onto a bus with her tour participants. It just happened the hotel manager overheard the conversation in the atrium. The kind hotel manager said this tour company does a lot tours starting from his hotel. This kind gentleman said he had a Regional Manager’s name, address and phone number. Additionally, he took us to his office to use his phone to make the first of many calls to the Tour Company Regional Manager. This Regional Manager informed us that his tour guide does have the final say if someone is rejected from her tour. He did admit that this was highly unusual and it had only happened a couple of times in the past. Usually because someone was fighting or doing inappropriate thing’s while on tour. He said he would order a refund of our money immediately but would take a couple of days to process the almost $4,700 for each of us. He said tour company would put us up in the hotel for 3 nights and purchase us a one way ticket from Melbourne to Sydney over the next three days.

Suzanne and I got checked into the hotel and went to our room to figure out how to salvage this trip. Long and short we rebooked our own handicap assessable hotel rooms, set up tours we had planned on doing with the tour company and purchased air and land transportation to do all the legs of this trip. We actually ended up adding a couple other places to see that had not been on our original tour. The funny part of this is we ran into the tour guide at Bay of Islands in New Zealand, Alice Springs and Great Barrier Reef in Australia . We waved and smiled to her each time but she pretended not to see us. At the Great Barrier Reef while she was quickly turning as not to see us she almost fell overboard off the dock. I said it was karma catching up with her.

So what to learn and remember from my experience is that asking all the questions, being reassured multiple times by everyone and you think that everything is in place for a handicap trip/ vacation/ tour you must be able to roll with the punches and be prepared to adapt and overcome. Since we do that every day with our handicap(s) we are the experts. Happy travels to all.

derekegarner

This is nowhere near the end of my journey.

I worked in healthcare as a Director for 21 years, the last six of them being a “traveler” to various hospitals, in various cities/states shoring up their regulations and programs in a contract setting. Previous to this I was in the California National Guard, which I suspect is where I originally acquired ALS-Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

I say that because 1. ALS is a gradual, progressive disorder which didn’t present itself to me fully until many years into my adult career, and 2. Because my National Guard unit was never actively deployed, I am not eligible for Veteran’s Administration (VA) benefits associated with ALS. Consequently, I have been unable to do my professional job since February 2021.

My physical limitations did not hurt me until I was at a hospital in Guam attempting to work a contract, but I was unable to pass the pre-employment physical (I promise you this is not a sad story).

As a “traveler” in healthcare, a very nice salary, paid housing, reimbursable meals and flights home presented themselves to me.
Now, because I essentially had no household “overhead”, I was able to lend family and friends large sums of money because I was basically living of my per diem.

Once I could no longer work though…those friends and family were hesitant to “allow me into their homes”. I do not blame them though as I was chiefly an enabler who never said “no” when someone had their hand out.

Fast forward to the present, I’ve had to navigate through all of the red tape associated with applying and receiving benefits from social security, Medicaid, public assistance, and the like, but I’ve found a resiliency that I thought I didn’t have dealing with the physical limitations of ALS, and depending solely on myself.

gbeanster40

I am writing on behalf of my 19 yr old son Colby. He was a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome when he was 5 months old at the hands of his day care provider. Just a few seconds of shaking him caused a traumatic brain injury, seizure disorder, cerebral palsy, temporary blindness and developmental delay in which he will require full time care for his lifetime.

Colby is a very happy and social young man. He loves to Travel and brings a video camera with him on every trip. Colby has been fortunate enough to travel up and down the East Coast of the United States from Florida to Maine. We live in New England and sometimes we just head a few towns over for a hotel stay which brings him great joy.
Accessibility has always been a struggle and as he has grown so has our issues. However we will not stop traveling with our son.

5 Likes

julievandusen

Hi my name is Julie and this is my dog, Jack. I have many awesome travel photos, but I thought this one was the best one to post here and now. It was taken on Sanibel Island, FL. It was toward the beginning of my neuromuscular decline. I have PLS and I walked with two canes at the time, but probably should’ve had a chair already. I fell two times getting to the water and we had to get a fellow beach goer to help me stand up to get me back to the vehicle, but I didn’t care. I was determined to get there and it was worth every minute! Although I have several pictures of me floating (being weightless allows my stiff legs to feel free), this one rises to the top because of Jack. The sun was so bright that he literally would not open his eyes until I put his glasses on! Jack was a smart fella and my first self taught service dog. He would pick up things that I dropped and hold open doors with his behind until I passed through. My travel buddy passed last spring at 15 years. I am not going to end this on a sad note so stay tuned for future pictures of my new partner in crime and travel buddy. His name is Cooper!

pekkapaavonpera

I’m now home after nearly a month traveling in Italy and Greece - my first overseas trip since my spinal cord incident in August, 2019.

Not only did I see new places, but I also learned a lot about myself, the world of paraplegia, and the love of family.

When traveling as a paraplegic one just has to accept there will be moments when you will ask yourself if it’s all worth it, putting yourself and your travel companions through it all.

There will be moments when you lose your dignity (but hold on to your pride) as you are manhandled on and off airplanes and ferries because they are not fully accessible.
People will gawk, some will get visibly, and sometimes verbally, annoyed that you may be slowing them down or getting some privilege they think they deserve.

You will arrive at some of your booked accommodations, expecting them to be accessible, because that’s what they told you or advertised, only to find they’re not. It’s at these times that you’re thankful you purchased, just in case, that heavy, transportable ramp. You will again be amazed that your travel companions were willing to lug it around, just in case.
You will become frustrated, and sometimes angry, that there are so many places you can not get into or see close up, especially when you know that it’s partly money and partly because there are so many people who don’t care about those who are not fully abled.
You will enviously watch people swimming in those turquoise waters you so enjoyed just a few short years ago. But you will also be thankful for the blessing of being able to see them and you will learn to be happy for those who can enjoy them.

But, and it is a very important but, you will also meet wonderful people, who do amazing things to help you, sometimes working with very minimal resources, just so that you can enjoy their country, their shop, or restaurant, or hotel, or get you on that ferry or aircraft.
Through it all you will learn to accept the cards you have been dealt and do what you can with them, to try 100 percent to enjoy yourself, because otherwise you may as well just curl up and be a misery to yourself and those around you.

You will be thankful you have people who want you to be the best you can be, and who will give 110 percent effort to ensure you enjoy your travels with them.

None of the wonderful places I saw and experienced, would have been possible without the enthusiasm and effort of my wonderful traveling companions - My family.

It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly worth it! Thanks guys from the bottom of my heart and soul. I love you.

Now for the next chapter - bring on paragliding in Iceland.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the accessibleGO giveaway, both entrants and those who voted!

This contest was all about finding who embodies the spirit of accessible travel – in essence, who is living the accessibleGO ethos? We believe that anything is possible!

We’re excited to announce our winners…

With a whopping 61% of the votes, @gbeanster40 is our Grand Prize 1st Place Winner, receiving a feature in Accessible Journeys magazine and a $200 gift card to use at IZ Adaptive.

Our 2nd Place Winner is @mabscall, receiving a $200 gift card to use at IZ Adaptive.

@gbeanster40 and @mabscall, please check your email for a message from accessibleGO with details on redeeming your prize.

accessibleGO Community, we welcome ideas for upcoming giveaways…keep an eye out for our next one!

Thank you to everyone who participated and took their precious time to read the stories and vote. Have a wonderful day and keep on enjoying to travel.

4 Likes

Lisa, I haven’t gotten an email regarding this 2nd place winner’s prize yet. Marianne Bitner

Not to worry, it will arrive soon :slight_smile:

Thank you. Have a wonderful day. Marianne

1 Like