#020 Have Wheelchair Will Travel: Making travel accessible to families

You can listen to this podcast episode on iTunes or Spotify

This woman knows accessible travel.

Julie Jones is the creator of Have Wheelchair Will Travel, co-founder of Travel Without Limits magazine, co-owner of Travel With Special Needs travel agency, freelance writer, disability advocate and mother to Braeden (BJ), age 23, who lives with cerebral palsy and her teenage daughter Amelia (AJ). Julie is passionate about accessible tourism and finding ways to ensure her whole family can enjoy travel. 

As a child, Julie traveled with her parents and she always intended on travelling with her own children. When her oldest son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 5 months old, travel was put on the back burner. 

Winning a trip to Disney Land in Florida changed all that for this Australian family. That first adventure led to more adventures.  

It’s kind of how life works, right? We learn and grow as we go.

Now, years later, Julie is an accessible travel expert and she shares her expertise to help other families enjoy the enriching experience of travel.  

In this episode, Julie provides some great advice about planning accessible travel. She has some tips that I am definitely going to use the next time my family is planning a trip.  

Beyond the (considerable) practical advice that Julie shares, her work serves to inspire and demonstrate what is possible for families that include disability. You’ll hear me fan-girling in the beginning of the episode about how much her work has influenced me and my dreams of family travel.  

One of the things I really loved about my conversation with Julie was that it gave me an opportunity to talk with someone who understands my reality of having a son with a disability and who shares my passion for travel. The conversation isn’t about disability; it is about living the life we want with disability accommodated.  

There was a time when I could not have imagined how we would be able to travel with my son.  

But over time, and with the help of others that had gone before me, with have figured out some pretty amazing family travel adventures. The video below is from our trip to England and Morocco.  

If you watch carefully, you will see my son, Will, sliding down a sand dune in the Sahara Desert – during a rain shower.  

I am grateful for this every time I think of it. It is such a powerful reminder to me to keep thinking big about what is possible. Because if I allow myself to start thinking small, then amazing things like experiencing rain in the Sahara Desert will never be possible.  

But also, and more importantly, thinking small about what is possible also means that amazing typical, every-day kinds of things won’t happen either. Like being a friend or team mate. And it is these every-day kinds of roles and experiences that really lead to the good things in life.  

Thanks for Listening! 

Resources & Links Mentioned: 

Travel without limits online magazine 

The ‘why’ behind Travel without limits magazine 

Have Wheelchair Will Travel blog 

Family Travel Magazine 

Travel With Special Needs travel agency 

YouTube video of BJ walking for the first time at age 18

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Special thanks to Julie Jones for joining me this week. Until next time! 

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