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July 2024 Issue

Empowering travel for Little People

Welcome to another vantage point

Pushing through discomfort, finding ways around barriers and establishing new norms is something that the Accessible Journeys community does all the time and without a lot of complaint. So, even though life can be difficult at times, it’s always made easier and better by our contributors.

A smiling woman with blonde hair, wearing a leopard print blouse, is pictured against a solid blue background. She is wearing a light-colored pendant necklace and small earrings. Her hair is styled with bangs sweeping to the side, and she has a cheerful and friendly expression.

Guest Editor’s note

By Samantha Rayburn–Trubyk

As the guest editor for the July edition of Accessible Journeys magazine, I am honoured to delve into the crucial topic of accessibility within the travel industry, particularly focusing on the experiences of individuals with dwarfism. My son and I were born with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.  Prior to us, there is no history of dwarfism in my family.

A smiling woman with shoulder-length blonde hair, wearing a blue top, standing in front of a blurred outdoor background

Tips for travelling as a Little Person

By Samantha Rayburn–Trubyk

Travelling holds a special allure for many, offering the promise of exploration, adventure and unforgettable experiences. Yet, for individuals born with dwarfism, embarking on a journey can unveil a distinct set of challenges, barriers and opportunities which shape the way we experience the world. 

A man with diastrophic dysplasia, wearing a black jacket and a black beanie, is standing with the aid of crutches in front of a scenic landscape featuring a waterfall and a distinctive, steep, cone-shaped mountain in the background. The sky is cloudy, and the terrain around him is grassy with patches of rocky ground.

Jesse Nichols: "pack your patience"

By Samantha Rayburn–Trubyk

Despite misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding disabilities, Jesse encourages individuals with dwarfism to approach travel with confidence, patience, understanding and a positive attitude. 

A young athlete sits in a specialized sports wheelchair on a gym floor. He has curly hair, wears glasses, and sports a white shirt with various sponsor logos. The wheelchair features a sturdy frame and protective bars at the front, designed for a specific type of sport. The athlete appears focused and ready for action, showcasing his determination and readiness to compete.

Kai Rivas encourages self-advocacy

By Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk

Kai Rivas is an incredible 15-year old athlete currently enrolled in high school in Arizona, U.S. He is a dedicated power wheelchair soccer player . . . he admits that it is important to be unafraid to advocate for yourself and clearly communicate your needs  to ensure comfortable, efficient travel.

A professional portrait of a woman with short, curly hair, wearing a black floral blouse with pink and red flowers. She is standing in front of an American flag, which is partially visible on the left side of the image. The background is a gradient gray, giving the photo a formal and official appearance. The woman is smiling gently and wearing a small, elegant necklace.

Marie Trottier cares

By Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk

Marie Trottier was born with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. She is the International Liaison with Little People of America (LPA) where she volunteers much of her time. She grew up with the organization and has a deep fondness for it.

A man with glasses is seated on a Segway, resting his arms on the handlebars, and smiling at the camera. He is on a beach with a cloudy sky and mountains in the distant background. The terrain around him is rocky and covered with patches of sand. The atmosphere appears calm and serene.

Jim Teneycke: "find a good travel ally"

By Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk

Jim Teneycke was born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDc), a form of dwarfism. He lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada and is married to Tracy with whom he has a 19-year-old son. Jim shares his experiences, challenges and triumphs exploring the world as a little person. 

A woman in a wheelchair is sitting on grass with vibrant, leafy plants in the background. She is wearing a patterned dress with a floral and foliage design and sunglasses. Next to her is a black dog with its tongue out, looking content. The woman has short dark hair and is smiling gently while resting her hand on the wheelchair's armrest.

Maria McClellan takes control of her travel destiny

By Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk

Maria was born with Morqio Syndrome, a rare form of dwarfism. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, this occurs in 1 of every 200,000 births. She was born and raised in Hawaii but now lives in Pennsylvania and has a wealth of experience travelling across the country and advocating for inclusivity. 

A smiling mother and her son are posing in front of the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, Italy. The son, wearing a dark grey t-shirt with colorful Marvel characters, has his arm around his mother, who is wearing a maroon tank top with a large Mickey Mouse graphic. They both have sunglasses on and are standing on a cobblestone path with the historic bridge and its colorful buildings over the river in the background. The sky is clear with some scattered clouds, indicating a sunny day.

Empowering Travel: Navigating accessibility and advocacy for individuals with Dwarfism

By Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk

I love to travel. Travelling as a person born with dwarfism presents unique challenges but also opportunities for making connections. In this article, I share some of my most memorable travel experiences, from navigating inaccessible rental trucks to meeting Andre Agassi and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Family Fun, No Limits

A family enjoying a day at the beach. A mother in a swimsuit pushes a child in a beach wheelchair through the shallow water while another child walks alongside them. Another child stands nearby, wearing blue swim trunks. The sky is clear and blue, and the beach is visible in the background with a few other people enjoying the sunny day.

Summer vacation

By Jennifer Allen

My early early vacation memories as a family with disabilities are not fond. I remember carrying my 40 lb son, along with the beach umbrella, toys and chairs… and then adding his little sister to my arms when the sand became too hot to walk. I remember his scraped up legs and feet from trying to navigate the sand without being able to walk. I remember getting back to our room and carrying him upstairs in the hotel with no elevator and where there was no space in the room to store a wheelchair. 

Three children are excitedly posing in front of a building with a large "MAGIC" sign. One child is sitting in a wheelchair with his arms outstretched, wearing glasses, a bright orange jacket, and jeans. To his left is a smiling boy in a blue and white patterned jacket with orange pants. To his right is a smiling girl with curly hair, wearing a gray dress and purple leggings. The entrance behind them has glass doors with reflections of the street and buildings visible. The building's facade is decorated with red curtains and gold trim, enhancing the magical theme.

A family trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania

By Olivia Novak

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with its rolling hills, charming towns, and rich cultural heritage, offers a peaceful yet exciting escape for families of all abilities. Beyond the breathtaking farmland vistas, the county boasts a variety of accessible attractions that cater to a range of interests. Lancaster County is proud to be an AbleVu Accessible Destination and Discover Lancaster is committed to providing accurate and helpful accessibility information for visitors. Check out our Accessibility Guide for more trip-planning resources.

Better Together - Disability Parent Q&A

with Jennifer Allen

Q: How do you navigate travel with all of the medical equipment needed?
A: No matter how much gear you travel with, it can be done! 

A cheerful family photo featuring three people outdoors on a windy day. On the left, a woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a light pink scarf, smiles brightly. In the middle, a young man with short brown hair and glasses, wearing a red shirt, smiles warmly. On the right, a man with short gray hair, a beard, and glasses, dressed in a dark shirt with a blue collar, smiles broadly. The background shows a scenic landscape with greenery and hills.

Enjoy the journey

Katie is the mom of Houston Vandergriff, a world renown photographer with Down Syndrome. The following is her story, from diagnosis day to changing the world through following her son’s passion. When our son, Houston, was born 26 years ago, each consecutive doctor came in with worse news than the last. Houston had jaundice, difficulty breathing, low muscle tone, a hole in his heart, Down syndrome. Each specialist had a long list of things Houston would struggle with or never do.

Adaptive Adventures

A woman with a joyful expression is seated on a unique three-wheeled bike on a pebbly shore beside a lake. She is dressed in black athletic attire, complete with a helmet, and gloves, ready for an active day out. The serene lake is partially frozen, indicating a cool climate, with a backdrop of majestic mountains under a partly cloudy sky. The natural scenery suggests a tranquil setting ideal for outdoor activities.

Lisa Franks: Living a limitless van life

By Staff Writer

Canadian Lisa Franks was a Paralympian, a title she wore with pride. Her journey in athletics began with a spinal cord injury at fourteen, but it quickly turned into a winning narrative. Before her injury, she was very active, a true athlete at heart. Introduced to wheelchair sports by visiting Paralympians, she was inspired and determined. 

Journeys with Autism

A young man with short brown hair and a slight mustache is taking a selfie on a sunny day near the edge of a cliff. The cliff overlooks a calm blue ocean, with other tourists visible in the background walking near the edge. The sky is clear with a few scattered clouds. The person is wearing a red shirt and a gray jacket. The location appears to be the Aran Islands, known for their rugged coastal scenery.

Connor McClure: autism and adventure

By Staff Writer

Travel has let me see new possibilities and how different people in different parts of the world live and work, compared to America. I especially like looking at different architectural styles. I’ve been very fortunate my family took me on trips growing up, and I think seeing new places created a sense of wanderlust I have in the world, and ties into my avid curiosity and love of history.

Feature Stories

A log cabin surrounded by tall pine trees, featuring a spacious wooden porch with railings. The cabin has a green door and several windows. A wooden ramp and steps provide access to the porch, ensuring wheelchair accessibility. The ground around the cabin is covered with pine needles and some gravel pathways.

Accessible Camping Adventures in Oregon

By Shasta Kearns Moore

From accessible kayaking to old-growth forest trails, the range of opportunities has never been greater for campers needing accommodations in Oregon. Thanks to an initiative to update and upgrade Oregon State Park facilities to make parks accessible for people who need assistance and mobility equipment, it’s even easier to make treasured camping memories. Here are some ways that even more campers can get back to nature and camp in Oregon. Just be sure to book early — summer spots fill up quickly.

Two women are smiling at the camera while on a boat on a lake. The woman on the left has shoulder-length brown hair, glasses, and is wearing a white t-shirt. The woman on the right has long red hair and is wearing a colorful tank top. The lake, surrounded by forested hills and trees, is visible in the background under a clear sky.

An untapped niche: accessible vacation rentals

By Jerrica Mah

Did you know if you filter an Airbnb search for all accessibility features, you can count the house results in the entire United States on one hand? Or if you filter only by step-free and wide entrances, you’re still left with less than 100 entire homes to rent?  In the entire United States! When we set out to build an accessible short-term vacation rental, we didn’t know this.

This image appears to be of a waterfront area with a modern building that has solar panels on the roof, a boardwalk, and a marina with boats docked. There are people walking around and some sitting on the grass, indicating a recreational or park setting. The background shows a mix of commercial and residential buildings.

Thunder Bay, Ontario: An adventure for everyone!

By Erin Simmons

Within the world of luxury travel, many guests seek more than just opulence—they seek an inclusive experience. 

A vibrant orange and white boat named "Bat 4 All" floats on clear blue water. The boat features a banner with the text "Barco Accesible en Tenerife" indicating it is an accessible boat in Tenerife. Several people are on board, engaged in various activities. The boat is equipped with a diving platform and has safety equipment visible, such as life jackets. The backdrop includes a hilly shoreline with buildings, suggesting a coastal location.

Tenerife Accessible Experiences (BAT4ALL)

By Staff Writer

BAT4ALL has dedicated the past two years to fostering accessibility and inclusivity in the vibrant south of Tenerife. Their efforts have culminated in the founding of Tenerife Accessible Experiences, a pioneering travel agency that promises to revolutionize the tourism landscape for individuals with disabilities.

A group of cyclists is exiting a rocky tunnel during a guided bike tour. The first rider is using a red adaptive tricycle, designed for accessibility, and is smiling and gesturing happily. Two other cyclists on standard bicycles follow closely behind, all wearing helmets and casual outdoor attire. The background features rugged rock formations, indicating a mountainous or canyon setting. The path is gravelly, adding to the adventurous atmosphere of the ride.

Discover Kelowna this summer: Accessible adventures await!

By Staff Writer

Nestled in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley, Kelowna invites people of all abilities to explore its natural beauty and vibrant culture. From May to September, this inclusive city offers a variety of adaptive activities designed to ensure everyone can enjoy a memorable summer adventure.

A photograph of two women sitting closely together in a cozy, dimly lit restaurant. The woman on the left has short, silver hair and is wearing a shiny, metallic blouse with a slight smile. The woman on the right has medium-length brown hair and is wearing a red and blue plaid shirt, smiling broadly. The background shows a mirror reflecting part of the restaurant interior, including hanging lights and other patrons. The atmosphere appears warm and friendly, with an inviting and relaxed setting.

Wheeling through the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City

By Staff Writer

I moved to the Midwest 16 years ago. I grew up on Long Island and went to New York City on occasion. Most of the time it was the Time Square area, to see a play, have dinner, and enjoy the bright lights. When I decided to visit friends and family on The Island a few months ago, I decided to first do a few days in The City. 

A woman in a motorized wheelchair is pictured outdoors on a sunny day. She has blonde hair and is wearing blue glasses, a white dress with a floral pattern, and an orange jacket. She is smiling at the camera, with a background of a wooden fence, green grass, and trees.

Monica Gärtner, Founder, The Canadian Assisted Travel Society

By Staff Writer

From the day she was born, Monica Gärtner has faced challenges most could not imagine. She has a very rare bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, causing her bones to break easily. As a result, she has had over 500 fractures – something as small as a cough could cause a broken rib. 

Immersive Nature Experiences

A woman in a wheelchair is on a wooden boardwalk surrounded by lush, green rainforest. She is wearing a light green T-shirt, blue pants, and white sneakers. She has dark hair and is smiling at the camera. The scene is serene, with dense foliage and trees in the background, indicating a natural and peaceful environment.

Chasing a dream in the jungles of Borneo

I dream of nature and wilderness travel: rainforests, ocean, savannah, falling asleep to jungle sounds at night and birdsong early in the morning. I have progressive multiple sclerosis with significant decline in physical ability. But while my abilities have changed my travel dreams have not.

The image depicts a scenic view of a mountainous landscape. In the foreground, there is a round wooden hot tub with a chimney, partially covered by a closed patio umbrella. The middle ground features a lush forest of evergreen trees, which transitions into a vast green meadow. In the background, rugged mountains rise under a partly cloudy sky, creating a picturesque and tranquil outdoor setting.

Cameron Ridge Bungalows: A remote paradise

Nestled along the historic Gold Rush Trail in British Columbia, Canada, between Likely and Wells/Barkerville, Cameron Ridge Bungalows offers a serene escape for travellers of all abilities. While wheelchair accessibility is still in progress with an ADA compliant Black Bear Cabin under construction, the site is an idyllic haven for guests with disabilities especially those seeking a respite from sensory overload

Cruising Corner

A woman with long, light brown hair and glasses is smiling while taking a selfie. She is standing on a high viewpoint overlooking a cityscape with a river running through it. The city has many buildings with red rooftops and historic architecture, including a prominent parliament building and a church. The scene is bright and clear, suggesting it is daytime with good weather. Trees and greenery are visible in the foreground, and the distant skyline is hazy but visible under a blue sky.

Plenty of Sunshine Travel shares cruising insights

Cruising is an excellent vacation option for individuals with limited mobility for several reasons: Attentive Staff: Cruise ships have staff available around the clock to assist passengers. This ensures that help is always nearby when needed . . .

Beyond sight

A smiling woman with shoulder-length blonde hair is standing against a light blue and purple background. She is wearing a royal blue dress with cold-shoulder sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. She has a black strap across her body and is wearing a delicate necklace.

Aimee's tips for travelling with a guide dog

Navigating the airport with your Assistance Dog can be challenging. In advance of travel, notify the airline that you need Special Assistance and have someone greet you at the taxi drop off point. Or have a family member or friend escort you to the check in desk, where you can meet a member of the Special Assistance team, who can help you from there. 

Silent Adventures

A woman wearing a white hat, a pink long-sleeve shirt, and floral-patterned leggings is crouching down and smiling at the camera while feeding lettuce to a kangaroo. The scene is set outdoors on a sunny day, with wooden furniture and a large tree visible in the background.

Lily Yu dishes out travel tips for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

From my experiences, several places have stood out for their exceptional accommodations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing travellers. These places have taken significant steps to ensure we have access to the same enriching experiences as everyone else making their visits smooth, inclusive and memorable.

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