Every once in a while I like to let you know the things going on behind the scenes here at TravelinWheels. We have so many irons in the fire and so many great possibilities to build our future that it is pretty overwhelming. So, what’s been going on?
We have been recruiting people from around the world to share their travel stories with us. Whether it’s travel to the next town, or thousands of miles away, travel stories bring new places and experiences to light. If you haven’t checked them out yet, make sure you read our latest stories on Accessible Sicily, as well as cheap and accessible places to go in Chicago. Don’t forget that you can add your story to our site by becoming an Ambassador.
We have feverishly been working on new destinations, including Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Orange County, CA. These efforts are very manually intensive, but once they are live, you will have the skinny on what to do, where to stay, and where to eat in some fabulous destinations!
I believe that as part of our mission in enabling travel with a disability, we have to actively engage with hospitality providers, airlines, and other service providers. They need to understand the importance of the marketplace and why it’s important to provide excellent service to all people, regardless of ability. I recently launched our consultation arm of TravelinWheels. It’s called Bungee Group. Now, you may wonder why we came up with such a weird name for a consulting company. Just go to the home page to see where I got my inspiration from. I’ve written a few articles talking about the importance of the disability marketplace. These articles, along with lots of legwork, are starting to get the attention of some big names in travel. We hope that we can build partnerships with them in the future and make travel easier for everyone.
I’ve also been attending various tourism events, getting the word out regarding accessible tourism and the importance of providing excellent hospitality to people of all disabilities. We were well received at the Illinois Conference for Tourism, and they are considering me as a future speaker.
I just finished attending TBEX 2012, an international travel blogger’s conference. I met writers, destination organizations, and a variety of industry people who were very interested in what we are doing. Many of them had no idea how many people with disabilities travel. It’s sad in many ways, but I believe that we must educate, educate, educate, and get out and live active lives so that the community is better understood.
I was also asked to be a guest author for About.com, talking about business travel with a disability. Make sure you check it out.
One of the biggest things I am excited about is my appointment to the Consumer Advisory Board of Delta Air Lines. This is huge honor and confirmation of the work that we have done at TravelinWheels. As a Board Member, I actively provide recommendations and feedback on how Delta can better serve people with disabilities. My focus will be on training. I’m working with a wonderful and diverse group of people with various disabilities who are examining Delta’s current training and developing improvements. Our hope is that our hard work will make a difference in your travel experience in the future.
Educating the Next Generation
We recently started an internship program with several universities to help us in gathering accessibility information. Student Ambassadors, who major in Hospitality, Occupational/Rehab Therapy, and Architecture, have the opportunity to explore their communities, and gather information for our database. This gives them a real understanding of accessibility around them, and provides them with a foundation with which to improve accessibility, universal design, and inclusion in their future careers. If you know of a student looking to be a part of this program, please let me know!
Educating the Disability Community
I was fortunate to be asked to attend Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Caregiver group meetup to share how to travel with a family member who has a disability. We were able to share lots of good information and insights, and I will be speaking at the National Spina Bifida Conference on July 1st, talking about making the most of accessible travel. If you know of a group that would like to learn more about travel with a disability, please send them my way!
We were at the Abilities Expo in Los Angeles, and will once again be in Chicago! Stop by and visit us!
Help Us Grow!
It takes a lot of time, money, and energy to keep TravelinWheels going. We need more funding in order to provide quality information to all of you. We’ve recently sent requests on Facebook and Twitter for you to vote for us at Mission for Success, which is granting $250,000 to small businesses to continue their work. We need 250 votes by June 30 to qualify. If you’ve already voted, thank you! If you haven’t already voted, please take a couple minutes.
Do you know of a business that would like to sponsor TravelinWheels? We are looking for some great sponsors who believe in accessible tourism. We will give them great exposure in exchange for a bit of their money.
Hitting the Open Seas!
I’ve had the dream to create fun experiences that are enriching and accessible for all. In an effort to get those wheels in motion, TravelinWheels has partnered with Easy Access Travel, an expert in accessible cruising, to put together our very first group cruise. I spend a lot of time with young adults with Spina Bifida, and I’m seeing that many of them have struggled to transition to adulthood. They are having difficulty gaining independence, finding jobs, and maintaining social relationships.
The First Annual Spina Bifida Adult Cruise set to depart in January 2013, was created as a way for young adults to enjoy an amazing experience in the Caribbean with their peers, as well as have access to people who can assist them in their transition. I’m very excited about this trip, and hope that we can do more in the future. We are looking for sponsors to defray costs, so if you know of a great sponsor for this event, please share!
Phew! So, you can see that the first six months of 2012 have been crazy busy!!! I’m exhausted just writing about it, or that could just be the thin Colorado air (I’m in Keystone, CO as I write this). I want to thank everyone who is supporting our work, spreading the word about us, and providing encouragement. An endeavor like this is pretty overwhelming at times, and it’s great to know that we are making a difference, especially when I’m doing the dirty work of financials, talking with sponsors, etc. So, please, comment on our stories, let me know what we could do better, comment on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t be shy!
I always said that this is your website. I still believe that. Please make it yours!!!
As always, safe travels!