January 1, 2014
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
At age 14, Ashley Lyn Olson was involved in a car accident that left her paralyzed. Now, 15 years later, she has created and developed a website that chronicles journeys of accessible travel, throughout the world.
Ashley Lyn shares video footage, pictures, and words of wisdom from her adventures, in which she stars as subject and filmmaker, often tasked with filming herself as she travels. She says it,
“has its limitations but it’s an opportunity to express creativity and share experiences with the world.”
Information regarding accessible destinations, lodging, transportation, and much more, is regularly accessed by a community, several thousands members strong, who are also encouraged to share their own experiences.
wheelchairtraveling.com is on a mission of making adventure accessible.
“The World of Wheelchair Traveling”
Q&A with Ashley Lyn Olson, Founder – wheelchairtraveling.com
You are such a passionate pioneer of accessible travel, what inspires you ?
Life inspires me, everything about it. I want everyone to experience this world and interact with each other and our environment. For those with limited mobility there are physical barriers and I aim to remove these.
How did you turn your passion into the creation of wheelchairtraveling.com ?
I build bridges over barriers–I do all the work to access and share information so people can make up their own minds. People want to know before they go–want to know their money’s worth. I started with just my stories but was always the ultimate goal to have a community of travelers sharing their stories. I wanted something that I would use too and I do! Plus, I am a visual person so I wanted to include a variety of media to paint a picture for people–a picture is worth a thousand words so to speak, especially when it comes to access.
What are a few of your favorite / recommended travel destinations?
I can say my favorite but cannot recommend because each traveler is unique and on his or her own journey. Vancouver, B.C. and the area around it are amazing if you like the outdoors. The city itself is a very clean and wheelchair friendly metropolis with excellent land and water transportation. Japan was my recent international trip that made me want to come back for more. That trip was an adventure of a lifetime but there are still many ahead of me, including Ecuador this winter. Yosemite will forever have a special place in my heart and it is wonderfully wheelchair friendly. I love nature so national and state parks are something I really enjoy documenting. Favorite city? Well, I live by San Francisco and though hilly it has much to offer that is accessible. Like I said, Vancouver, but also Berlin. Japan was really amazing… This is what I can say now but my bucket list is enormous.
If there’s one message you’d like to share with anyone in wheelchair (or able-bodied), what would that be?
Wheelchair or AB, it doesn’t matter–it is all the same. Everyone has barriers to overcome. Be open to whatever you encounter (don’t resist change) as all of it is intended for your journey. Anything is possible. We are one love, one life.
Have you ever participated recreationally or professionally in an adaptive sport? Which adaptive sport or recreation is your favorite?
I’ve done nothing professionally but I’ve done snow and water skiing as well as a little basketball. I love to hike but that’s more like a personal sport. I also sky dive and zip-line if you can call that a sport. I’ve also sailed once and want to do it again. I have a hand-cycle too that I ride. Is wine tasting a sport?! Hahaha, just kidding about that last one. I still want to go scuba diving.
Are you an advocate of New Years resolutions, if so what’s ahead for 2014?
I don’t make a change for just a year. I am constantly changing. “If we don’t change we don’t grow. If we don’t grow then we are not really living” (M.Beard). What do I focus on? Being happy with the small things, as this is what makes up life. A resolution implies I have something to resolve. I believe in loving yourself, flaws and all. No one is perfect, that is the perfection of life–we all need each other. I’ve learned a lot about myself in my “darkest” hours– the light within us is far brighter than the external world. With that said, my resolution is to continue my journey, my evolution, and get all the love I need only to give it all away.
In the comments section below, please share your accessible travel experiences and dreams!
*** Make A Hero is a registered 501(c)3, non-profit, creating adaptive sports films and media content, inspiring individuals with disabilities to enjoy the freedom of participation in adaptive sports & recreation.
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