Jacqui the Intrepid Traveller! Limited Mobility & Enable Holidays
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My conversation with Jacqui is one which I will remember for a very long time. She is one of those people who is truly inspirations. She is in her early 60s, with very limited mobility, and yet she is unstoppable and rises to every challenges. Her adventures, whilst travelling, rival any of mine and most people I know. During our conversations, we talked about Bali, Belgium and Hong Kong, to list but a few places of the many she has visited.
Jacqui had polio as a toddler and has suffered its effects ever since, the result today being that she is highly dependent on her mobility scooter for getting out and about. There were a few facts which I learned about these scooters: they have gel batteries so are not a problem for airlines to carry, you charge them up overnight in your hotel room or apartment and they are easily put in any car boot. However, whilst UK airport staff allow passengers to drive their scooter to the aircraft steps, and then load it, at overseas airports it is often the case that less understanding is shown. Jacqui advises you remain with the scooter at all times, and affix as many FRAGILE stickers as possible all over it and ensure it is not slung into cargo cages, where it could be covered by heavy luggage. Her motto is to treat the scooter with respect at all times and to ask others to do the same.
And this leads us to a most amusing story. Recently Jacqui was visiting some gardens in Tunbridge Wells, the gradient became rather too steep for both her and her scooter, so she pushed it up the hill (respect indeed), then rode back down again. Her description of the event sounded something like a wild bob sleigh ride, with neither herself nor the scooter in charge! Her tales abroad are equally fearless: she’s been water-skiing sitting on a large ski-board and paragliding in the Dominican Republic, taking off from the beach despite a fear of heights. However, this adventure is one which she told me she does not care to repeat! Jacqui has also piloted both a small aircraft and a helicopter, she was less keen on the latter as she could see the ground beneath her. I asked where her determination came from, as she does things many able bodied people wouldn’t try, and she is clear in her response - if she wants to do something then she will do whatever she needs to achieve it.
I asked Jacqui if any destination had been a particular challenge and she responded that Hong Kong had been tiring as she was on sticks then, and spent three weeks there with her daughter. In particular she found the boats, travelling to various islands and the subway hard work! Undeterred, however, and she’d like to go back as the hustle and bustle and 24/7 pace of life intrigued her. I asked about Europe and without hesitation, Jacqui told me that rural Belgium has the worst pavements ever for her scooter as they are just too high and very tricky. Bulgaria also scores low for people with limited mobility as it has lots of steps and is very hilly. Alternatively, the Costa del Sol, where Jacqui first hired a scooter, gets top vote from her as ramps are available in many places and everyone is keen to support her independence. It is so important to do your research Jacqui says, in order to really be prepared and get the most out of your stay. There are certain destinations, usually those involving beaches, where Jacqui prefers to use a wheel chair, as her scooter doesn’t like the sand. Obviously, knowing a wheelchair is available makes a huge difference.
However, there are places where mobility scooters are a total novelty and Jacqui is convinced that she could have sold at least a dozen on her trip to Dubai. She was stopped by many people in a large shopping mall, who wanted to know where they could buy one. She told me how she was tempted to set up in business exporting scooters to the Middle East. And apparently the Far East as well, as no-one had ever seen one before in Bali where she became a figure of much interest. She said the hotel staff here were fabulous and did everything they could to assist her. Even the roads and pavements in Bali were better than Belgium although the chocolate was nothing like as good!
We talked about future travels, and where, I wondered, would Jacqui and her scooter get to on their next journey? Well, the answer is that Jacqui is really keen to visit Tahiti and Fiji, because she’s never been to that part of the world. And she would also like to go to New Zealand to see where her father is buried and maybe find out a bit more about his life at the other side of the world.
Here at Silver Travel Advisor, we are waiting for her postcards and reviews. I am delighted to have spoken to such an enthusiastic, determined, no holds barred traveller with scooter.
Silver Travel recommends Enable Holidays for all disabled and limited mobility travellers.
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