This Central Florida resident shares accessible travel tips on her blog to help other wheelchair users plan their vacations.
Over the summer, the Center for Independent Living honored Sylvia Longmire with the Beverly Chapman Award at its annual gala for her work in the disability rights advocacy community. It was there that we were introduced to her story.
Longmire was medically retired from the US Air Force in 2005 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She wrote two books about Mexico’s drug war and border security using the expertise she gained as a senior intelligence analyst for the state of California following her retirement. After she began traveling full-time as a wheelchair user in 2015, Longmire was inspired to start her travel blog, called Spin the Globe, with the hopes that her experiences could ease the fears of others.
With four years of full-time travel under her belt, it’s easy to think that Longmire doesn’t stress about her travels. The truth is, she’s afraid before every trip.
“I go anyway because my desire to travel pretty much trumps my fear,” she says.
She’s quick to stress the importance of research for any trip. Not only does it help for solo travelers to know what they’re getting into based on physical limitations, but it can help with the mental obstacles that come with accessible travel too.
“I’ve found that the more information I have or the more that I know about the accessibility of a destination — from the destination itself or other wheelchair users who have been there before — that helps to alleviate at least some of the anxiety,” she says.
Topics on Longmire’s blog range from educational posts to destination reviews. She shares travel tips and has dedicated a post to show readers what an airport baggage handlers job entails to shine a light on the reasons that 25 wheelchairs are either lost or damaged on airlines every day in the United States. She also posts videos and photos of every hotel room and cruise ship cabin she experiences to assist others with their vacation planning.
“I’m certainly not a pioneer,” Longmire says. “But it’s easy for me to say, ‘Look, if I can do this, and I can do this by myself, then anyone can.’”
Sylvia’s Top Accessible Travel Tips
Work with an accessible tour company. These experts in accessible travel can recommend hotels as well as assist with planning and research.
Do your research before spending the money. Find out if your destination of choice isn’t an accessible city before purchasing a nonrefundable ticket.
Be flexible and keep low expectations. Things don’t always go as planned when traveling. Instead of saying, “oh crap” when there’s an obstacle, look for alternative ways to do whatever it is that you want to do.
Start small and local. If you’ve never traveled as a wheelchair user, head to the next town over or the closest big city to see what it’s like. Roll around the city, go in and out of businesses and build confidence with baby steps.