What It Is Like Travelling With A Disability

Posted by Jay in Travel on December 3rd, 2017

Today is 3rd December, and the 25th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disability (IDPD). It was originally created by the United Nations in 1992

“to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of on the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.”

Until a few years ago, I did not even know that there was a specific day dedicated to those with disabilities. Which, I should have found out much sooner considering the fact that there is a day for everything else, it seems. The IDPD has me thinking about the different experiences that I have had travelling with a disability.

The Pity

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Even though I could be on the same amazing trip as other people, there always seems to be an element of pity. The sad eyes, and the “bless your cotton socks” looks that get flung my way. It usually doesn’t bother me, but it can get annoying after a while. Like, just stop it. You see me out here living my best life and taking exceptional pictures in this wonderful place. Why ruin it with pitiful eyes and words about my disability? Enjoy the view and mind your business! It works wonders for your skin…

The Underestimation 

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As you may have noticed, I am quite an adventurous young woman and will give most things a try. From bungee jumping to sky diving, I’ll try most things at least once.  I am used to people presuming that I would not be able to do something because of my disability and already doubting me. Claiming to know my abilities better than me, so I really enjoy proving them wrong. However, there are certain instances where they were absolutely right, and I definitely should have listened. One such instance was when I was in Panama earlier this year. I found myself on my hands and knees up a mountain. Sometimes, you really should listen to Jorge.

The Privilege

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While I wish it wasn’t, travelling is a privilege. Due to financial constraints, disability, familial obligations or anything else, it is not as easy for others to travel. I am always very aware of my privilege whenever I travel as a disabled, black woman around the world. Many that look like me, come from similar circumstances are not afforded this luxury, and I never intend to take it for granted. I travel so much, not just so that I may see the world, but so that the world can also see me. There needs to be more people of diverse backgrounds that are seen globetrotting, and I will definitely do what I can!

The Attitudes

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The attitudes of people around the world towards me and my disability differs from place to place. In more Western countries, there have been stares but people are less likely to come up to me and question me. Whereas I received more questions in African countries and when I was in India. The most surprising reactions that I received was during my trip in India last year. As I have a very obvious and visible disability, I am used to the stares. However, I was not allowed to pay for many tourist attractions that I visited, I was ushered right. While I tried to tell them that I was fine with paying, as the exchange rate was heavily in my favour, they weren’t having any of it. Any extra money that I had left was given to nearby homeless people or used as tips. 

The Inspiration

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Whether at home or abroad, my disability is seen as a symbol of inspiration. Me boldly defying the odds and living life, anyway. It’s not like I have much choice, but thank you random person. However, unless you are going to contribute to my travelling fund, I’d be alright without knowing how much I inspire you. Thanks.

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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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