31 Days of SMA: Making Travel Accessible

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by Kevin Schaefer |

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Day 29 of 31 Days of SMA⁣⠀ Topic: Making Travel Accessible⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ This is @srin86 story ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ As a child, I didn’t get many opportunities to travel. The idea of finding places that could accommodate my equipment and power wheelchair was such a struggle that my parents limited our holidays to a few familiar places. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Once on my own, I inherited the struggle, but I had the travel bug and was determined to give it a go. I won’t say it was easy, but it was definitely an adventure.I spent 4 months traveling with my personal care assistant through Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. I learned to scuba, camp, and experienced the thrill of safari. Many times, I couldn’t find information on accessibility, or hotels didn’t offer the access they promised. I learned to improvise and problem solve, maintain a sense of humour, and be flexible. Most of all, I experienced the wonder of other cultures, foods, & landscapes.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ I had just finished my MBA at Oxford University, when a friend of mine with SMA, and I decided we wanted to tackle this travel dilemma. We envisioned ways to solve challenges we faced while traveling. I learned how to code on my own, and we created a website called Accomable that allowed people to list their accessible homes for others to vacation in. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ After a couple years, we had over 1,000 places to stay! We’d become a leader when it came to accessible lodging, and as things went, Airbnb acquired us in 2017. Now, I have a dedicated team that listens to travellers with disabilities and turns those learnings into improvements on Airbnb, while educating hosts and employees on accessible travel. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ I realised that it takes a village to find all the accessible spaces that exist around the world. That’s how the Accessible Travel Club was born on Facebook. Our 8,000 members share knowledge on everything from where to stay in Turkey to how to get from Penn Station to Midtown in Manhattan. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ I truly believe that the more people with disabilities travel, the more travel providers will see that we are an economic force that can influence the success of lodging, restaurants, transportation, etc. I’m excited for the future of inclusive travel!"

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