Corey Lee is one of the most intrepid travelers I have ever met. His travels to places like India, Morocco and Antarctica are just the beginning. Over the past eight years, he has visited 39 countries and all seven continents. What makes this even more remarkable is that all of his travels were made in a powered wheelchair.
He was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Type 2) at age two, received his first powered wheelchair at age four, and traveled to Walt Disney World on his first trip. He now documents his travels on his website CurbFree with Cory Lee: Sharing the World from the Insider’s Perspective’s Perspective. This is much more than a travel blog. Destination after destination, he details his days at a given destination, noting how accessible the destination is and the challenges one has to face when traveling in a wheelchair. Recent coverage includes wheelchair-friendly guides to places as diverse as Sarasota, Lake Tahoe, and the Adirondacks. Not to mention Santiago, Chile, and Montevideo, Uruguay.
“I started my website in 2013 when I was looking for information about traveling to Australia and trying to find information about disability,” Lee said. “It was difficult to find which destinations were available. There was no available travel information for destinations around the world. So I decided to become a resource and share this information.”
So which countries or cities are doing a great job?
“I think in many places,” he says. “Scandinavia is one of the most accessible places. Only in Helsinki there are 300 taxis equipped for people with disabilities. As a rule, the United States also does a good job. We are lucky to have the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On the other hand, if a country does not have an ADA designation, it does not mean that it is completely inaccessible. Spain is doing a phenomenal job and Barcelona has some of the most accessible beaches in the world. They even have staff to transfer you from wheelchair to beach wheelchair. I have never seen anything like this anywhere else in the world.”
However, many areas remain challenging. During a visit to New York in 2005, he found only 15 taxis available, requiring 48 hours’ advance notice. He adds that the city has improved significantly over the past five years and has become one of the most travel-friendly cities in the world.
“My most difficult trip was to Paris in 2011,” he recalls. “Then there was an acute shortage of affordable transport. There was only one van and it cost 800 euros per day. I heard it got better and I would like to come back.”
Overall, Lee says the world is becoming more accessible. Four years ago “I went to India. I have always wanted to visit and I found a travel company that specializes in affordable travel. They used an adapted van and searched for available hotels and attractions. I had…