Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Spoonie Travel Interview with Lisa

Illness/ disability: ME

Destination: Cala Galdana, Menorca

Who did you travel with?
 My husband, Stuart
What airline did you use?
 Easyjet. We book a package deal with them on easyjetholidays

First of all, how was your holiday?
It was brill! I was so happy to have been able to travel and enjoy some decent sunshine and be by the sea.

What was your biggest worry before travelling and how did you overcome it/ justify it?
The biggest thing for me was worrying that the travelling would exhaust me and that I would then spend the whole 10 days in bed trying to recover and wishing I hadn’t tried to attempt the trip. For years going abroad hasn’t been an option as getting out the house for any reason was such a struggle. However, in the last six months I have been more resilient and as I love travelling and have missed it so much, it seemed time to take the chance. Reading other spoonies accounts of coping with travelling gave me a lot of confidence to go for it. 

Did you have to make any special arrangements for transfer from the airport to the hotel because you were in a wheelchair? 
 We made sure that we told Easyjet before we travelled that I had a wheelchair and they were excellent giving me assistance from the moment we got to Gatwick right to the hotel in Menorca. I was really surprised at how considerate everyone was and willing to help.

Did you notice any changes in your health whilst away? Good or bad? Any new symptoms? I didn’t have any new symptoms and was amazed at how well I coped. We quickly got into a routine that I could manage of late breakfast, rest after breakfast and then afternoon by the pool or on the beach. I only had one day when I couldn’t manage that. I used the wheelchair to get around the hotel for the first 6 days but after that was feeling stronger and was able to get around without it which was fab. The holiday was so restful I think it helped me get some strength that I didn’t have before. 

How was Cala Galdana as a resort/ destination in relation to your illness/ disability? (Access, flat, close to restaurants etc, quiet)
We stayed at the Melia hotel. I had spent a lot of time researching somewhere that sounded as if it would be suitable and manageable for me. The hotel wasn’t too big although it still had a choice of restaurants. The smaller restaurant was lovely and quiet. The hotel was right on the beach and had lifts so it was all very accessible for me. There were some steps from the bottom floor down to the beach but I could manage those. There weren’t steps in the hotel itself so it was very easy to use the wheelchair. 

How did you find attitudes/perceptions towards you by other travellers and from the locals?
Everyone was so friendly and considerate. It does worry me as it what people think when sometimes I use the wheelchair and then other days don’t. However, I quickly realised people probably don’t notice and I can’t tell what they are thinking anyway so I stopped worrying about it. I always feel like I am like a toddler with a pushchair – I can walk but I just get exhausted so it’s an energy saving device.

From your experience what piece(s) of advise would you pass on the other spoonie/ disabled travellers?
 I think be realistic about what you can manage and plan the trip to give yourself the best chance of coping. We wanted to make sure we flew from Gatwick as we felt it would be more manageable than tackling Heathrow, plus to have afternoon flights. I don’t cope with mornings so we made sure I would be at my best when heading off. I think this really helped me. Turning hassles like packing into a little fun project of planning outfits and just laying out a few things each day so it was manageable. Plus I made sure not to do any social activities at all for the two weeks leading up to the trip. I think lastly, just trust and have faith that you will be ok. It is daunting going somewhere different but tap into those feelings of being courageous and adventurous to keep those nagging concerns at bay.

Do you think that despite all the extra 'hassles' of travelling as a chronically ill person it is still worth it?
Absolutely if you are strong enough. I know it isn’t appropriate for everyone. However, I found being somewhere completely different really freshened me up mentally and it feels like a real achievement to have experienced somewhere different even if I wasn’t able to go hiking around the island and diving off boats.

What items would you not travel without?
 My ipod. I love just sitting back, watching the sea and listening to music. I also have lots of audio books loaded on it as I find reading tiring.

What other disability/ illness essentials do you pack?
 Noise cancelling earphones. These were great on the flight and waiting at the airport. I could block out the rest of the world and just sit back with a nice relaxing playlist.

What are your favourite holiday beauty products?
I like having a skin moisturiser. At the moment my one of choice is The Body Shop Vitamin E one which doesn’t smell too strong and is easy to rub in.

If you were to go on holiday again what would you do differently?
I don’t think anything. I am just glad that the research paid off and the destination was somewhere that felt like a pleasure and not a drain.

How are you after the holiday?
I have been good. I am very happy to say that even with the travelling home, I came back feeling stronger than I went.

Did your experience make you want to travel again? If yes where would you like to go?
Definitely, I would love to do more package beach holidays that are just all about soaking up the sun and sand. I would love to go to Mauritius or somewhere exotic – as soon as I feel I can manage the longer flight.

A big thank you to Lisa for taking part in this spoonie travel interview. I hope her positive experience and advise has been useful to anyone thinking of travelling in the future. Or she has given you some inspiration of where to travel to. From the photo (below) and Lisa's account Cala Galdana looks and sounds idyllic. For more inspiration and tips you can read all my trave tips from researching to reaching your destination on my travel tips page, click on the link or you can find it on the right of my home page. You will also find many more spoonie travel interviews there. In this stormy weather it's very easy to wish we were lying on a gorgeous beach, soaking up the vitamin D.

1 comment: