Thursday, 17 July 2014

Spoonie Travel Interview with Sophie

As part of my travel series I wanted to interview some other chronically ill people that know about their experiences of travelling to give you all as much information as possible as well as ideas where is good to go. Today is the turn of my good friend Sophie, who earlier in the year went on her honeymoon. 

Name: Sophie
Illness: Severe M.E and spinal damage
Destination: Lisbon, Portugal
Who did you travel with? My husband
What airline did you use? EasyJet
First of all, how was your holiday? It was lovely, it was our honeymoon and was very much worth the 9 month wait! 

What was your biggest worry before travelling? And how did you overcome it/ justify it? Flying is always my biggest worry with travelling, not only because of the standing around at airports, and business, but because I hate flying. My fears of the airport itself where overcome when suggested to me (by your lovely self), that I book assistance. The assistance staff were all very helpful and even took care of me when I had a panic attack about the actual flight and my husband wasn't near me. 

Did you notice any changes in your health whilst away? Good or bad? Any new symptoms? I was able to walk a bit more than I can at home, I think the warm weather helped in that regard, although I did over do it. It is a very hilly city, and in my stubbornness decided I could climb them. I didn't notice the effects of this until I got back to England though, I was enjoying my honeymoon too much to notice!

How was.... as a resort/ destination in relation to your illnesses/disability? (Access, flat, close to restaurants etc, quiet) 
Lisbon is a lovely city, but it isn't easily accessible, it is built on 7 hills of varying height and the streets are narrow and paved with a marble-like cobble effect which makes them slippery. 
Some of the things we went to see were accessible, the Oceanarium and Zoo, for example. But other's weren't so easy like the Estadio De Luz which was out of the way and took a lot of walking to. The Castle wasn't easily accessible by foot either, but there was a bus that went up to the ticket office. 
We didn't stay in a hotel instead we found a lovely apartment from Air BnB to stay in, and although it was in one of the small streets it was quiet and in the centre of everything. 
The open top tour buses were fully accessible with wheelchair spaces and friendly staff - we used the City Sightseeing company, but there were 3 other companies who all looked as accessible. This was a brilliant way to see the city without doing too much walking. 

How did you find attitudes/perceptions towards you by other travellers and from the locals?

When we were out I had my fold up stick rather than my bright pink crutches. Simply because my crutches were just getting in my way around the streets, and it was easier to not use them. So people didn't really notice there was anything wrong with me, just that I walked slowly and stopped a lot!

From your experience(s) what piece(s) of advice would you pass on to other spoonie travellers? 
Make sure you check your destination is accessible. We didn't when we booked it as I wasn't very ill, but 2 weeks before I had a knock back and my husband was close to cancelling the trip after I looked to see how easy Lisbon was to get around in a wheelchair.

What items would you not travel without?
My fold up stick. When the streets were too difficult to use my crutches, my switch stick was my lifesaver. 

What are your favourite holiday beauty products?
My GHDs. I never go to stay anywhere without them! 
If you were to go on holiday again what would y do differently?
Next time we will make sure our destination is accessible, I will have no choice but to use my wheelchair on our next holiday and we have learnt from our mistake! 

How are you after the holiday?
I was a wreck when we got back and have taken a long time to recover, but I was so ill when we went that I think not going wouldn't have made much of a difference to how I am now.

Do you thin that despite all the extra 'hassles' of travelling as a chronically ill person it is still worth it?
Definitely, we might have to do it differently to other people, but just because we are ill doesn't mean we should miss out on holidays!
I hope you have enjoyed this interview, if you want to read some more from Sophie, take a read of her blog

Sian x


  1. I love this, it's always good to read how other chronics have coped with travelling, especially in the lead up to my holiday! Thanks for sharing this with us!

    PS - liking the new look here on your blog! :D

    1. I have a few more to share too. And maybe one from your good self when you get back. Great to find out about more places and airlines and to see people having a fab time. Very inspiring.
      Thanks, wanted something much cleaner looking.

    2. That would be good! I'd love to appear on HTDWME!