Accessible and inclusive travel without limits
Some say the best things in life are the people we love, the places we go and the memories we make along the way. And nothing could be truer for Julie Jones and her son Braeden, who are sharing their accessible and inclusive travel adventures with a growing community of supporters around the world.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of five months, Braeden is now 25-years-old and his adventurous spirit hasn’t stopped his family seeking out new destinations and experiences for him. At first, travelling with her family felt like something that was out of reach for Julie, who previously worked as a Travel Consultant.
“When Braeden was little, I felt quite isolated as a parent with a newly diagnosed child with disability,” she says. “There was no information out there in magazines, on TV or in the news about travelling with someone with a disability.”
After winning a family holiday to Disneyland in 2011, the family launched a website ‘Have Wheelchair Will Travel’ to share their experiences with others. Soon, a community of like-minded enthusiasts began following and commenting on Braeden’s travels, both locally and internationally.
Before long, Julie began to understand the bigger impact of sharing information more widely about accessible and inclusive travel. Stories of Braeden’s travels were not only impacting people with disability and their families, but they were also educating the general public and the travel industry about disability.
“To live a full life, people with disability want to have the chance to get out and about, too. If there is more information, facilities and experiences available for families like us, people will travel more,” says Julie.
Along with accessibility, inclusive attitudes are really important in helping to create a positive experience. “Fiji was one of the least physically accessible destinations we travelled to. But their inclusive and welcoming attitude meant that Braeden did more experiences there than many other places. He really found his tribe there,” laughs Julie.
Julie explains that if you go to an attraction and staff try to find out what you need and help you to access something that everyone else has access to, this is a sign that staff have been trained in inclusive practices.
Not only has travelling opened up a world of new possibilities for Braeden, he also enjoys sharing his memories and experiences with his carers when he returns home. “We shared Braeden’s cable hang gliding photos with his support workers, which helped to open their eyes to what he’s capable of, too,” says Julie.
In March 2019, Julie went a step further and co-founded a travel magazine called ‘Travel Without Limits’, to share diverse stories from people with disability around the world. A subscription is available in both print and online, plus a range of travel tips and advice on the website at travelwithoutlimits.com.au
While COVID-19 has limited international travel for the Jones family for now, they have been enjoying more local travel in their home state of NSW and around Australia.
For more information about Braeden’s travels and adventures, visit havewheelchairwilltravel.net