Updated: Dec 24, 2020
There is a huge focus on accessible travel in the travel industry, what has been your experience with traveling?
For Jamie Santillo my guest today on the podcast it's been very successful. She has always loved to travel. Now owning her own special needs certified travel agency, she wants to help others with disabilities realize that there is a great big beautiful world out there that is very accessible to them. She also believes it is so important, especially now with the pandemic that people utilize a travel professional, like Jamie and I, to ensure they are up to date on all the travel changes.
Jamie shares her amazing story on the podcast today and I'm so excited to keep teasing you with my big announcement next week on the podcast! Subscribe and tune in!
What are the things you have to consider before you go on vacation?
Having congenital muscular dystrophy and being a power wheelchair user, I must consider a number of things. How will I get to my destination? What are my accommodations like? What is the restroom like in those accommodations? Are there elevators? Is the area I'm going to flat or are there steps everywhere? A lot goes into planning my vacations There is a huge focus on accessible travel in the travel industry, what has been your experience with traveling?
It's been very successful. I've always loved to travel. Now owning my own special needs certified travel agency, I want to help others with disabilities realize that there is a great big beautiful world out there that is very accessible to them. I also think it is so important, especially now with the pandemic that people utilize a travel professional to ensure they are up to date on all the travel changes. What is one positive experience you've had while traveling?
There have been so many. I would say one of the most recent was our cruise to the Grand Cayman Islands and Cozumel with Royal Caribbean. This was my first cruise and I was extremely impressed with the accessibility of the ship and ease of getting on and off at the ports. What is one negative experience you've had while traveling?
Our least favorite trip was actually our stay a few nights in Miami prior to leaving out of the Port of Miami for that cruise that was so wonderful. It was very busy where we stayed with incredibly confusing traffic. It just wasn't a relaxing way to start our trip. What is the travel industry doing for those in the disabled community to make travel easier?
I think the travel industry is making huge headway to make things more inclusive for everyone. Ensuring ADA standards are being met and educating travelers on what is out there. What could the travel industry do better? Are they meeting all your needs?
The airlines still have a long way to go to be accessible for wheelchair users. In 2020 we still cannot board and remain in our wheelchair for the flight. Many wheelchair users are dependent on specially adapted wheelchairs to allow them to sit and cannot sit in a regular seat. This negates them from being able to fly. Also, there are a number of wheelchairs damaged by the airlines to mishandling with loading and unloading the wheelchairs. My wheelchair is my legs. It also costs over $30k because of all its functions. If it's broken by the airline I am first, immobilized, and second, with a price tag like that, I can't just go out and buy a new wheelchair. What would you tell someone that has a visible or hidden disability to ease their minds about traveling?
I would tell them that they are very deserving to travel and to utilize a special needs certified travel agency to assist in their planning to ensure their needs are met. Quickfire questions What is your favorite destination you've visited thus far?
Bar Harbor, ME. It was absolutely breathtaking! What is your least favorite destination you've visited?
Miami Where have you found to be the most accessible destination or tourism supplier? Disney is absolutely incredible at being inclusive. There are many rides I can enjoy from my wheelchair. Their resorts are very accessible. Everyone at Disney is always very helpful. What is one thing you always do before you go on vacation?
I check, check and check again to ensure my accommodations will have what I need. What is the first place you'll travel to once COVID-19 restrictions are eased around the world? I would love to go to Italy. I am Italian and I'd love to see where my ancestry is from. I also discovered that they have a wheelchair accessible gondola, which I very much look forward to riding one day!
Links : linktr.ee/adventuresbyjamie