Sunday, 31 January 2016

Spoonie Travel Interview with Anna

photo by Anna Jones

Illness/ disability: ME/ CFS
Destination: Malaga, Costa del sol, Spain

Who did you travel with? 
My boyfriend, Mr Tree Surgeon

What airline did you use?
British Airways

First of all, how was your holiday?
Wonderful thank you!

What was your biggest worry before travelling? And how did you overcome it/ justify it?
Where do I begin?! It was the first time I had travelled abroad since becoming ill. I had no idea how I would cope with getting through an airport or enduring a flight. I asked my fellow sufferers who had already attempted foreign holidays what to expect and tried to keep an open, calm mind.

Did you have to make any special arrangements for transfer from the airport to the hotel because you were in a wheelchair? Or did you, or have you ever, encountered any problems about this?
We stayed in an apartment and had contacted the host prior to our arrival about the best way to get across the city from the airport. We considered hiring a car but parking was restricted so we got a taxi from the taxi stand at the airport. The wheelchair posed no problems – although trying to give directions to a driver who didn’t speak English did!!!

Did you notice any changes in your health whilst away? Good or bad? Any new symptoms?
Nothing out of the ordinary or that wasn’t expected. I struggled with the warmer days as I have problems with temperature regulation. I initially struggled a little with the time difference, even though it’s only an hour. Sadly, but not surprisingly, I didn’t get the remission that some people had mentioned they’d had while they were abroad.

How was Malaga as a resort/ destination in relation to your illnesses/disability? (Access, flat, close to restaurants etc, quiet)
Really, really impressive! Even the beaches were wheelchair accessible. A lot of the city was pedestrianised and there were pelican crossings almost everywhere. In 10 days we only had one problem with a drop kerb which is so much better than our experience of the UK. The apartment was in a quiet residential area away from the tourist district and the city centre. The only down side was that it was up a hill. On the one day I tried to stretch my legs I managed to get down the hill but then couldn’t get back up it! There were beaches and restaurants right on our doorstep and everything was in walking/wheeling distance.

How did you find attitudes/perceptions towards you by other travellers and from the locals?
Surprisingly the most negative attitudes belonged to the staff at Gatwick Airport, particularly those of the security staff and the Special Assistance Team. We were shocked by their distinct lack of compassion and care. If I handed over our passports and boarding cards, they were handed back to Mr Tree Surgeon and I was completely ignored.
In comparison I was treated like royalty by the staff at Malaga Airport. All of the restaurant staff and locals that we came across were incredibly accommodating of the wheelchair and I was made to feel like an equal for the whole holiday – something that doesn’t always happen. They took it all in their stride. I took a tumble out of the wheelchair on the way back home and a local couple came to help. There was building work on our road and we had to pass a skip that was right up against the wall, the builders helped Mr Tree Surgeon carry our shopping and the wheelchair while I shuffled past. It was really lovely.

From your experience(s) what piece(s) of advice would you pass on to other spoonie/disabled travellers?

Accept any help offered if it will mean you can save your precious energy for the actual event. You cannot be too organised. That said, there comes a time where you just have to stop or you’ll worry yourself silly. I had to zip my suitcase up to stop myself from panicking about what I had or hadn’t packed. Lists are amazing! Write down the essentials like medication and tick them off as you go. With memory problems it helped enormously.

Do you think that despite all the extra 'hassles' of travelling as a chronically ill person it is still worth it?
Most definitely

View from my bed
photo by Anna Jones

What items would you not travel without?
Ear defenders!!!

What are your must have items for in your hand luggage?
Rescue Remedy sweets to suck on – you obviously have to be careful with the liquid form. A woolly hat. A book. My iPhone. My prescription medication. Spare pants and socks, and a toothbrush, in case my luggage gets lost.

What other disability/illness related essentials do you pack?
A hot water bottle and disposable ice packs would have been good but I ran out of space. I’ll definitely pack them next time.

What are your favourite holiday beauty products?
I’m not really one for beauty products but I do love Rimmel’s Wake Me Up concealer after reading one of your blog posts. It definitely helped cover the dark circles under my eyes after a day of travelling.

If you were to go on holiday again what would you do differently?
Next time I’m sure I would be far less worried because I now know what to expect. I would pack more dresses to go over leggings as they proved to be the most comfortable outfits for sitting in the wheelchair in the ‘heat.’ Even jeggings became uncomfortable after awhile.

How are you after the holiday?
Not too bad! Well…you know how it is. Payback and post-exertional malaise. We were very sensible and had slow, lazy mornings each day so as not to push my body to do more than it could to soon. We did get into the holiday spirit and I did more than I would do at home but using the wheelchair saved so much energy! I made it out, at least for coffee, most days – which was incredible! Maybe I should brave using my chair more often at home…

Did your experiences make you want to travel again? If yes where would you like to go?
Yes. I was reminded though that I don’t manage so well in the heat – and it was only 22 degrees celsius! And we’ve had so many lovely holidays around the UK that I don’t feel desperate to get back on a plane. Having glorious sunshine everyday was fantastic though!

A very big thank you to Anna for taking part. And I hope her experience has given you some confidence about travelling or an idea of where might be good to go. It's certainly made me long for some winter sun. You can read more about Anna's trip as well as her other great blogposts over on her blog ME, myself and I

Also some exciting news I'm currently working on a travelling with a chronic illness article to be featured in a book all about living well with a chronic illness by the amazing lady behind Which will also feature an article by Anna. 

Sian x

No comments:

Post a Comment