Due matrimoni in Italia

02.11.22 09:55 AM By Dan

For this travel series, we collected three stories of people navigating travel with a physical disability. Below, AQA's Josh Hose offers us tips on finding the right accomodation, via a window to his trip to Italy. 

By Josh Hose

In late May I ventured across to Italy, where I attended not one but two weddings of friends of my partner. This trip was spread across three weeks, and covered northern Italy, Milano, to as far south as Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. 

As you would appreciate, especially those among us with an SCI, there are many layers of planning that go into an overseas trip. Most of which now is second nature for myself, probably because I have lived with a spinal cord injury for almost 18 years, and I’ve been fortunate to have done a bit of travel in that time. I would like to share my insights on how I managed one of these layers on this trip: booking accommodation.

I had several locations to choose accommodation for. Starting in Cislago, Riccione, San Demetrio Ne Vestini, Vasto, Sorrento, Napoli and ending in Roma.

So my first point of call is the old Google, where you can use an accommodation search platform. Many of these platforms now have disability filters, but I’ve learnt to take these with a grain of salt. For me, the key is to see a picture of the bathroom where I can evaluate its suitability for myself. From here, I also do a Google Street View to see what the access to the hotel is like. 

Depending on how satisfied I am with these two processes, I may send an email and/or call the hotel asking for additional photos or a measurement. Having a conversation can also give me a sense of the hotel's actual knowledge of access, which will help me decide if it's suitable.

For example, when booking accommodation in Sorrento, from the photos I saw on the website I had some queries about the entry and width of the bathroom door. 

There was one minor step in the photo. In my past experiences, one step tends to lead to other steps throughout the hotel. So I got the number of the hotel manager and did a video call with him so he could walk me through the premises (and yes, I was correct, there were other steps, but it was manageable). The key takeaway I’ve learned over the years is that people's perception of disability and access varies. So, be objective, and ask plenty of questions. 

What came from these many questions was, overall, a very enjoyable trip of great travel, food, wine and sunshine. As with most trips away, we learn from our experiences good and bad, to add to our "tool bag" to make the next getaway even more seamless. 

So from this trip I had an epiphany that, for my future holiday endeavours, I’ll add a power assist option to “my bag”.  A Smart Drive is good but getting over cobblestones I found is still an issue. I’m talking about something like a Batech, which will lift the front of my chair, negating all the cobblestones. So, for this trip I will concede defeat to the cobblestones. But, I will play the long game and return to win this cobblestone war.
As seen in the November issue of NewsLink - get your copy here

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