A few weeks back, I chatted to Aurélie Loaec who is an accessible tourism consultant from Nantes, France and writer of I Wheel Travel. Read her inspiring story below…
Originally from Brittany in France, I just moved in Nantes after many months rolling the world. Before that I was a legal practitioner but in June 2016 I decided to leave France to spend one year in New Zealand. In order to prepare this big move I looked for information about accessibility in this country, should it be for everyday life, touristic activities or walks. Indeed, I have hereditary spastic paraplegia, which causes to slowly lose my ability to walk. That means I walked with a walking stick for a long time and I now have been using a wheelchair for three years. So I needed to find information about accessibility but I had a hard time finding it so I decided to create my own blog, www.iwheeltravel.com/en, to share my travel stories and information about accessibility in those places.
In April 2015 I bought my first wheelchair to go on a trip to Japan! For the first time I travelled outside the European Union. For years, I wanted to discover other cultures and Japan looked really appealing to me! So I finished my studies and as soon as I saved enough money I bought a flight ticket to Japan. That trip was so awesome! There is no doubt I caught the travel bug after that. Months after months I even realised this passion was about to become a central part of my life and that’s how I ended living in New Zealand for a year before spending three months and half in south-east Asia!
I have two memories in mind. The first one is when I tried sit ski in New Zealand on a volcano! it was my first time skiing and I really enjoyed the experience. The sensation is awesome and made me feel so free!
The second one was my travel in the Cook islands. I am so in love with this place! Palm tree, coconuts, colourful fishes, white sand beaches and polynesian culture: this looks like a heaven on earth!
I never had to face a ‘total disaster’ during my travels. Sometimes things went wrong but it never was too horrible. For example I remember that we had a rough day in New Zealand because Franck, my husband, and I started a hike supposedly accessible but it wasn’t. I thought I wouldn’t have no other choice that sleeping in the bush because of the gate’s opening hours but we succeeded to reach it on time!
It’s very true, but not matter wherever I go, people have always been here to help me in case of difficulty. As for the accessibility itself, Singapore is definitely the most wheelchair accessible place I have ever been. Accessibility is everywhere. Transports, shops, restaurants, tourist sites, accommodations : everything has been thought to be inclusive.
There are so many countries that I want to visit ! At the moment I’m thinking to travel in one south European country in the end of the summer: maybe Italy or Greece. Otherwise one of my dream is to travel the south American continent.
You can follow my adventures on my blog www.iwheeltravel.com/en and on my social medias:
Facebook : www.facebook.com/iwheeltravel/
Twitter : @I_wheel_travel
Instagram : www.instagram.com/iwheeltravel/
Also I am currently looking to join the accessible tourism sector so if any European company has an open position that I could filled in I would be happy to talk with them. Otherwise, I also work independently as an accessible tourism consultant.