John is one of the most active pioneers in accessible travel. He is the Founder of WheelchairTravel.org that many topics regarding accessible travel have been covered. He became a triple amputee after a serious car accident. However, that incident didn’t make him prevent to travel over forty countries or lose his passion for traveling. Today, he is a passionate advocate for disability rights and one of the leading authorities on accessible travel.
|Hobbies / Interests||Reading, sports, music, travel, chess.|
|Number of Countries Visited||🌍 40+|
|Social Media Accounts||Web/wheelchairtravel.org|
Can you describe the accessible travel scene in today’s world? What are its bright points and what can be done more to improve it?
The world is becoming more accessible, but certain countries and cities are making progress faster than others. I have tried to share the message that, with the proper adaptations and detailed planning, nearly every destination can be explored with a disability. In this regard, I have been able to visit countries like Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, and Thailand – which are not very accessible – by doing the research to ensure my needs would be met. I encourage other wheelchair users and all disabled people to get out there and explore the world!
What or who was your inspiration to travel the world?
My family instilled a love of travel in me at a very young age. When I became disabled and began using a wheelchair in my 20s, my deep desire to see and explore the world remained unchanged. Because of my prior travel experience, I didn’t have as steep of a learning curve as disabled people who may be planning their first trip, but many things about travel are different from a wheelchair. Every trip is an adventure, navigating the built environment that has not prioritized access and inclusion for disabled people. But, we roll on!
How did you decide to start to run a website? Can you tell us about the activites of your website briefly?
I started my website to share a few tips about accessible travel that I hadn’t found anywhere else on the internet. It has grown to become the world’s largest accessible travel website, and includes detailed information on air travel, hotel accessibility and destination accessibility for disabled people who want to travel. I’ve just launched a new podcast, The Accessible Travel Talk Show (wheelchairtravel.org/podcast), which is making this information available in a new format.
Does accessible travel require an extraordinary amount of money since its not that common?
Every traveler is different because every disability is different. Some of my readers have buy or rent equipment, pay a personal care aide, and more. As a general rule of thumb, accessible travel is more expensive than a typical trip taken by a nondisabled person. I am hopeful that, as the world becomes more accessible and embraces universal design, some of those costs might become unnecessary and travel could become equitable for all.
What has traveling as a wheelchair user taught you in life? You can maybe tell it with a specific incident that you experienced.
Prior to my disability, one of my core beliefs in life was that people are inherently good. My perspective has changed somewhat, and I now say that people must choose to be or do good, and that most people do. Very few people in the world are entirely self-sufficient, so we generally rely on someone else for something or many other people for some things. Those strangers we pass by on the street – most of them are good people who, when given the option, will do good. And so, I have learned to never be afraid to ask a stranger for help.
What would you like to tell fellow handicapped people regarding accessible traveling?
Opportunities await! As a wheelchair user, I have been to the Great Wall of China, ridden a camel around the Egyptian Pyramids, sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon, been to the top of the world’s tallest building, gone on a true African safari in Kenya and tasted the world’s best pizza in Chicago. More of the world is accessible than you may believe, and it’s up to you to make the first move.
The year that you started your website:
I wrote my first blog post in 2015.
5 items that you always have when you travel:
My wheelchair, passport, iPhone, MacBook Pro and Bose headphones.
Top 3 accessible destinations you have traveled to:
I always find it easy to visit Chicago, London and Hong Kong.
Top 3 airlines that are wheelchair / handicap friendly:
I would direct readers to my 2020 Airline Rankings for Wheelchair Users (wheelchairtravel.org/recalculating-2020-airline-rankings-wheelchair-damage-data/), but would note that none of these airlines are providing the service that they should be.
Top 3 accesssible hotel:
Because we each have different accessibility needs, the best hotels provide detailed accessibility information so that guests can make the best choice.
Favourite sport to watch:
Tennis is my favorite sport to watch on television, and baseball is my favorite to watch at the ballpark.