Column: How one bad trip after another started Simply Emma
Who would have thought a nightmare experience at London Heathrow Airport would have developed into an amazing journey of sharing my accessible travel and life experiences online to people all over of the world?
It was in that moment while sitting in tears and unbearable pain due to my powered wheelchair not having been returned to me after a flight from New York and a long series of events at Heathrow that made me realise I had to do something about it.
Rather than privately complain to friends and family about the issues I faced as a wheelchair user, I wanted to speak up and raise awareness by campaigning for better accessibility and disability rights for myself and other disabled people.
I wish I could have brushed it off as an unfortunate one-off bad experience as a disabled traveller, but it was happening time and time again and not only at airports. Barriers to accessibility were everywhere including shops, restaurants, venues, transport and more.
Almost four years later I am still doing what I love by writing about my adventures as a wheelchair user on my blog.
When coming up with a name for the blog, I wanted it to represent me, my life and what I love to do. That’s when the name ‘Simply Emma’ was born. A place for me to share personal stories, accessible travel adventures, travel guides, live event reviews and anything that interests me.
I like to think of myself as somewhat adventurous so I am often on the lookout for new and unique discoveries that fuel my adrenaline hungry appetite from adaptive skiing, wheelchair abseiling to zip-lining.
Diagnosed at seven years old with a progressive muscle wasting condition, Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. I am a full-time wheelchair user and need help with almost everything I do. Although it’s challenging, I’ve never let my disability stop me from travelling and living life the way I want to.
Some of my favourite places I’ve visited are New York, San Francisco, Vienna and most recently Barcelona. I loved everything about Barcelona, especially the amazing beach wheelchair that allowed me to go on the sand and into the water for the first time in over 20 years.
It was the most memorable moment getting to experience this with my family, but most importantly to play with my nephew in the sand – something I’d never been able to do until that moment.
In special moments like this it makes the challenges of travelling with a disability completely worth it. It also reinforces why I do what I do and why I created my blog, which is to hopefully encourage others, with or without a disability, to travel more and live life to the fullest.
My blog has given me lots of exciting opportunities to work with fantastic disability charities, tourism boards and companies who are passionate about improving accessibility. I’ve also met other disabled bloggers who have become amazing life-long friends as a result of my blog.
When I’m not travelling with my partner or trying a new accessible sport, we are at home in Grangemouth most likely planning our next adventure.
I also enjoy nothing more than rolling around enjoying the outdoors, going to see our favourite bands, watching movies and exploring everything and anything with our adorable nephew.