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Travel advice about getting to places, near and far, on a scooter or wheelchair.

MS_Wire_Ed_Tobias

“Round, round, get around. I get around.”

I was humming that classic 1960s Beach Boys tune this morning (yes, I’m that old) as I thought about a feature story that I saw on one of the TV networks recently. The story profiled Cory Lee. Cory has spinal muscular atrophy, which means he’s one of us gimps who get around on wheels. For Corey, however, “around” means more than just wheeling around his neighborhood. With the help of his mom, Cory has traveled to nearly 20 countries on several continents. And he blogs about it on curbfreewithcorylee.com.

If you’re stuck in a chair and you think you can’t travel, think again. It takes some istanbulplanning, and it may cost a little more than your average trip, but where there’s a wheel there’s a way. Over the past 10 years my wife Laura, my scooter and I have been all over Europe. We’ve seen the Berlin Wall, traveled through the Vatican and taken a gondola ride in Venice. I’ve even rumbled over the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey and taken a tram up the cliffs of Santorini.  Closer to home, a visit back to the city where I grew up took us to see “Ground Zero” and the 9/11 Memorial and museum.

Cruising makes it easier

One of the things that makes travel a whole lot easier for us is doing that travel on a cruise. These days, most cruise lines are used to dealing with wheelchairs and scooters, and an accessible cabin, if you can get one, is a lot larger than a standard cabin and at the same price. Since you use the ship as your hotel you can visit multiple countries and only need helsinkito unpack and pack once.  The crews on the five cruises we’ve taken all have gone out of their way to help us, even lifting my scooter into and out of the small “tender” boat that’s sometimes used to ferry passengers from the cruise ship to the dock. In Alaska, where we took a train to our ship, the train had a lift that took me, with the scooter, from the ground to the train door and I drove right on.

There are many shore excursions for cruise passengers. Most involve large, comfortable  buses that have big luggage compartments underneath. The scooter slides right in and out. For more difficult locations, such as Ephesus, Turkey, Crete, Greece, St. Petersburg, Russia and Venice, Italy, our travel agent hooked us up with a car and a tour guide. It costs more, but it allowed us to move at our own pace, see more places in a short amount of time and have help moving the scooter and dealing with any language difficulties.

Good travel info is just a click away

There are several travel agencies that specialize in travel for folks with disabilities. Since we use a local agency I can’t vouch for any of these. But sagetravel.com, and flyingwheelstravel.com, which sets up escorted tours, are two that I’ve come across on the internet.

There also are several on-line sites that can help you plan your trip. If you think a cruise is right for you I’d recommend taking a look at cruisecritic.com. Not only can you scope out various cruise lines, ships and locations, it has an excellent forum devoted to disabled cruise travel. Gimponthego.com provides great one-stop-shopping for all sorts of travel info. Spintheglobe.net is a blog written by Sylvia Longmire, who has multiple sclerosis and also happens to be Ms. Wheelchair USA 2016.

If you can’t go far, go near

I know some who are reading this may not be able to afford to travel like this. But there probably is a wide selection of inexpensive trips that are within driving, or even mass transit, distance of where you live.

My point is simply to encourage you to get around, no matter where that “getting” gets you.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.
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13 comments

  1. Christine says:

    Thank you, Ed! I have progressive MS and have been sorely missing being able to travel. I can manage to limp along for a quarter mile or so, but a wheeled mobility assistant would enable me to get out there again. What kind of scooter do you use? Most seem sort of heavy. My husband, who has his own health issues, would need to help wrangle it. My having the ability to go without him having to push a wheelchair would enhance his travel enjoyment.

    • Ed TobiasEd Tobias says:

      Hi Christine,

      I’m glad you like the column and I hope that you’ll be able to get out and do some traveling. Seeing different places is an important part of life.

      I have two scooters. The one that I use around the neighborhood is a Pride Go-GO which is, a relatively heavy, 105 pounds. But it breaks into four parts, the heaviest of which is only 34 pounds. My upper body strength is good and I can disassemble it and put it into the back of our SUV without much trouble. But to travel I use a much lighter TravelScoot. It weighs only 35 pounds, TOTAL, and I can remove its seat and battery and fold it up like a baby stroller. The battery is a lithium-nitrate and is good for about 10 miles. I ride the TravelScoot to the door of an aircraft where the baggage guys usually stow it in the hold without folding it. Sometimes, though, the cabin crew allows me to fold it and stow it in the coat closet. Its the scooter that I’m shown riding, in Crete, in my column. You buy it on-line at: http://www.travelscoot.com.

      Your mobility is much better than mine. I’m only good for about a city block, using two canes and a Bioness nerve stimulating cuff. So, I know you can get out there.

      Ed

  2. KELLY FARRELL says:

    I DONT HAVE MONEY OR PARTNER TO TRAVEL, HOWEVER, I BOUGHT SCOOTER IN THE SPRING, GET OUT AND BUZZ AROUND CITIES WATERVLIET & TROY, NY WHEN WEATHER PERMITS. I GAVE UP DRIVING RECENTLY, SO OUR UPSTAE NY WINTERS WILL BE LONG. I AM 52 W SEC PROG MS.

  3. Hi Ed,
    I too have MS and ever since I got my TravelScoot too its opened up a world of going out a lot more for me. Not only with travelling on airplanes but just easier to go shopping in big stores I could never walk through or attending sporting events with my kids. I am a 5″1 weigh 90 lbs petite woman and was so pleasantly surprised how I can lift this light weight scooter myself into a vehicle! I totally agree with you in that its not where we go and get out its the point of just getting out that is so important for us not to feel isolated.

    • Ed TobiasEd Tobias says:

      Thanks for your comments, Michelle. You forgot to mention that the TravelScoot is fast, and fun. (I know I sound like a salesman but I’m getting nothing from them. They probably don’t even know that I’ve been saying good things about their scooter). You’re right, a scooter makes a world of difference.

      Ed

  4. George Trebaol says:

    We just returned from a trip to Italy (Rome, Florence, Pisa) followed by a transatlantic cruise. I used my Pride GoGo Elite traveler essentially everywhere. My wife had to lift it over a few curbs in Rome, but other than that traveling with a scooter is an amazingly enabling experience. Certainly, everyone we met along the way was more than willing to help. Airlines, cruise staff, other tourists were always willing to help. Even when my battery ran out of power, others helped push me back to the tour bus. I should have planned a bit better and bought either a higher-capacity battery, or a second one as a spare. Of course, another hidden benefit of being disabled it that most major tourist sites let you skip the often long lines.

    • Ed TobiasEd Tobias says:

      Everything you say is so true, George. (We love Italy, by the way. My wife and I have been there twice on cruises and I went twice on business before retiring). I travel with a spare lithium-ion battery, just in case, since a totally dead battery would definitely ruin any trip.

      And yes, we skip lines…the longest of which was at the Vatican. My wife and I, and the other couple we were with, “scooted” right through.
      The same is true for security lines at airports. We go right to the front. We signed-up, however, for the TSA’s Global Traveler program so that we also don’t need to hassle with removing shoes, belts and laptops.

      Ed

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