Disability & Travel: A Story

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Hello!


My name is Giulia, I am a young woman in a wheelchair, psychologist, blogger and I love traveling.



I had a scooter accident almost 8 years ago, after which I suffered a spinal cord injury and since then I can no longer walk.

I won't hide from you that I had some very difficult moments and I had to face and learn how to manage my life again.

Today I would like to tell you how I was reborn and how I found freedom again!!



Very often we hear stories of people with disabilities who became champions of sport. 

Not me.

I chose another path, I chose to travel!



Before the accident I didn't travel much, just a few cities with my parents in a camper van.

After the accident, during my rehabilitation, I met a young physiotherapist.

We started talking and hanging out together, just as friends!

One day he asks me: "What if we go to Australia together as soon as you are discharged from the hospital and I finish university?"

I obviously did not believe him, but I said: “YES”, after all... why not!

And after a few months I found myself on a plane, heading to one of the most distant places in the world, with a man I had known for just a few months.


Traveling I found and rediscovered freedom! It gives me the opportunity to test my limits and as far as I can push and immediately after I understand it, I decide to go further!

Because you see... when you are in a wheelchair you do understand very well what is impossible to you, but... at the same time you also find that everything else is still possible and I can assure you that there are a lot of things.


Another thing I love about traveling is that I can see the world with my own eyes, I can meet and get closer to other cultures, touch and smell other tastes, perfumes and sensations. I do not just have to rely on what people tell me, but I can experience it myself. 


"For me, traveling means walking around the world with my own legs again."



Now you are probably wondering what happened to that young physiotherapist... well... we got married!!

He proposed me at the Paris airport while we were heading for a trip to China.



Together we visited 24 countries and more than 80 cities including: China, Peru, Canada, Bali, Thailand, India, USA and many others.






Today I would like to talk about a country in particular that I carry in my heart, where I saw one of the most beautiful places in the world and where I found a welcoming and kind people, who know how to fight effectively against architectural barriers: Japan.



Nowhere else in the world I have been able to find all these things together in one place. From the first moment, I felt at home.

Every person has always ready a shy smile and a deep bow at every meeting, they have found a way to make accessible every place, every park and every monument, wherever this was possible.

The Japanese temples are places full of magic and spirituality, I found in their rituals a profound respect for traditions and I was immediately inspired and fascinated.

And how to forget Japanese food... in addition of being a sushi lover, I discovered many other delicacies of which I was not aware.





Another aspect that struck me was obviously rail transport.  In addition to punctuality and cleanliness (which in Japan can be taken almost for granted), I noticed that moving around with a disability represents for them a normal status and not the exception. I never had any problems getting on a train, nor did I have to contact service centers days before departure to plan my trip.

Like all the other travelers, I went to the station, checked the schedule of the next train, waited in line with the other passengers and got on the train. I received a service like any others and I had no problem.

In any case, I have always received attention and questions from the station and train staff, in case I needed further assistance.


I really think that governments, but first of all people, can make the world more accessible and very often huge interventions are not necessary, but little precautions of which many people (even without disabilities) could benefit from.


My goal is to let people know about the world of tourism and travels with a disability so that this change starts from people first and then engages societies in a spontaneous and authentic way.


I am convinced that only through this way we can really break down the architectural and mental barriers that still exist today and I want to thank all of you who are reading this because this change could start from you right now!



To know more about me and follow our adventures, I'll wait for you on Instagram and on my Blog.


See you soon,

Giulia

 
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