Travelling for me has opened doors into a whole world of different opportunities. What I once thought was impossible, now seems thoroughly achievable; and as I set out to become the first wheelchair user to visit every single country on the planet, I feel energised and excited to not only push my own limits, but to challenge the perceptions of those I meet on the road and to tackle any stereotypes that they may subconsciously hold about how they view the life of a disabled person to be.
Sure there’s been some pretty challenging experiences so far, and I know there’ll be many more to come, but the overwhelming sense of achievement that comes with successfully finding a way around these obstacles is like no other buzz on earth.
So who am I and why am I so addicted to travelling? Well to put it simply, I’m a 26 year old guy from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom and I grew tired of living my life in just one place. The annual family vacation to somewhere in Spain just wasn’t enough – in fact, it left me feeling restless. I know it sounds cliché, but I knew there was a world out there, and I just wanted to explore it all. One day when I leave this life (hopefully) in many years to come, I’d like to look back on all that I’ve done and know that I saw and did it all. That thirst to personally witness the beauty and majesty of this world is what drives me, and the reactions of people who see me doing all this from the seated position of a wheelchair, just fuels me even more.
As well as having a passion for travelling, I am also deeply motivated to try and make a positive impact on society and the world in which we live in. I consider myself to be an environmentalist and a conservationist – which means I’m alwaysys on the look out for ways in which I can lend a helping hand. One of my proudest moments was when I worked with the World Wide Fund for Nature in Wellington, and whilst there I helped to set up and coordinate a massive fundraising campaign called ‘Challenge 55’ which was in aid of raising money to help protect the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins. It was truly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
So far I have been to 25 different countries, including many countries in South East Asia where I spent a month and a half backpacking. Out of all the countries I have visited, my favourites have been Vietnam and New Zealand – both for their sheer diversity in nature and extraordinary scenery. Of course, backpacking around South East Asia was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Constantly being forced to push my wheelchair into oncoming traffic because the pavements are too inaccessible, or struggling to find a toilet which was more than just a simple hole in the ground (as was the case in Cambodia), I was never short of situations that momentarily left me questioning what I was actually doing. Those questions were always quickly dispelled though, and the adrenaline kick from being out there, doing it, seeing all these awesome places – really made me appreciate every single second.
I will never stop being a traveller, and I will never stop encouraging those around me to give it a try themselves.
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