Around the World…and Back Again
By Domonic Corridan
Almost 17 years ago I was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident at the age of 16 and I, like many other kids, spent much of my childhood taking road trips and traveling all over the country with my parents. After my accident I was very unsure about my ability to travel like I did so much before. I was worried I would not be able to get in to places to eat or get to the beaches I used to frequent. Over the passing years I did small road trips with family and friends here and there and even some all on my own. Then about 4 years ago I was afforded a great opportunity to travel to Europe for about 6 months. I must admit, I was a bit afraid of what I would find once I got off the plane in Switzerland, as I had heard the horror stories as well of how “old and rural” everything was overseas. Yet I was bound and determined to aind out for myself though, so off I went!
From the moment I rolled off the plane in Geneva I knew this was not the world that everyone had talked so badly about. From the incredible box truck that lifted the box up to meet the door of the plane, lowered me back down to the tarmac level, and drove me right over to the door of the airport, to the extremely accommodating ground crew. This was only the beginning… I hopped around to many different cities in many different countries around Europe and was met with the same sort of relief from my fears. Paris was absolutely accessible. The sidewalks are easy to navigate if you are a wanderer like I am, and pretty much every restaurant has an outdoor café area that rocks. London was more of the same and every single cab in the city is wheelchair accessible and the cabbies are incredible! Munich was beautiful and so easy to get around. The train systems set up in the cities are very accessible, but do require some planning and prior contact to some of the access agencies in the different countries.
This is also true with the trains going from city to city and between countries. And the coolest feature of all was this wondrous thing called a EuroKey. This one key opens all the locked handicapped restrooms all over Europe and only the handicapped are allowed to obtain a key, through the filing of a bit of paperwork. So there is no worry of an able-bodied person taking up the one handicap stall in the whole restroom because he or she likes the bigger space. The list goes on and on…
Off to Asia for me and I was greeted with very modern and completely accessible airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangkok alike. Out of the 3 cities, Singapore was the most modern and got the highest marks from me. Hong Kong was quite accessible but very hilly. I wished I had a power chair for that trip. Bangkok was good but once you left the airport circle the accessibility diminished. Usually, I only found a single step to get in some places or maybe a narrow door opening. If you are brave enough to venture out and take on some challenges you will do very well in any of these places. Australia was a little different story, because they actually have laws in place for access and the handicapped. I found Melbourne and Sydney supremely accessible all over both cities. They had very good public transit, accessible sidewalks and entries into almost every store and restaurant. Australia was the best combination of all. They are a fairly modern country so most things are accessible to begin with and on top of that they are all extremely accommodating in the event you might need a helping hand.
Coming back home to the states after traveling to all of these amazing places left me with a new found library of knowledge. I do have a great appreciation for the access we have here, but also know that I can go anywhere if I put my mind to it. I cannot stress enough how much of an advantage it is to have an open and positive mindset when traveling. It will make or break an entire trip. Not only will it make your trip more fun and run a lot more smoothly, but it will put a smile on the faces of people around you as well.
Las Vegas is a wondrous city of lights and giant hotels and all of it is available for EVERYONE to play in. There is any number of things to do in and around the city from zip lines, to mountain trails, to relaxing parks. And for those who want a taste of what they will find in their travels, just wander the strip. You will find a replica of the Trevi Fountain from Rome, a ¼ size Eiffel Tower, and even a scaled replica of the Statue of Liberty. I completely encourage everyone to get out there and visit the places they always dreamed of. As long as you pack your open mind with your socks and underwear in your suitcase you will be able to take on any place.
To find out more about Domonic and Extreme Abilities, please visit his website at www.extremeabilities.com