I wish someone had warned me that planning an Epic European Disability Roadtrip (EEDR) would be a journey in itself.
I have dreamt of roadtripping across Europe forever. Then since I began blogging, running the magazine and generally looking to change the world on disability issues; it made total sense to combine the two. I have day dreamed endlessly about travelling vast distances, sharing my experiences and meeting new, vibrant people. I love the feeling of being on the move, and I know how much impact sharing my additional needs has on disabled people and society in general.
Having plotted the route, prepared with my PAs, found a motorhome, lined up interviewees, contacted the media and partnered with pleasefund.us to crowd source the project costs; I launched EEDR this Tuesday.
An hour after emailing 3,500 people and posting the launch on my blog, I had the most gut wrenching news imaginable! CoachbuiltGB were to sponsor their adapted motorhome, it even came with a powerful RV battery. They believed in me and my aims, had a motorhome spare (that was for sale), and were happy for me to use it on the trip. Unfortunately, whilst I was preparing the launch, a buyer came in and purchased the motorhome. On hearing this news I felt sick, considered that the trip was over and didn’t know where to begin in cancelling everything.
I already had one of my roadtrip PAs, Kasia, on shift. I asked the other roadtripping PA, Filipe, to join us yesterday. My view was the trip had gone too far, and wanted to explore all alternatives before cancelling. However, they had to be happy with the outcome too. Without an adapted motorhome, caravan or funds to buy one; this option was obsolete. The only other way was to take my adapted car (with ramp and hand controls, plus the option for my PAs to drive as well) and find accommodation.
We looked again at the route. Between us we knew a few contacts who could offer accommodation. There is no way I could afford hotels every night with the budget! Some of the places would not be wheelchair accessible though. Filipe has managed to lift me on several occasions before, and so this was an option still. However Kasia cannot lift me alone, and was meant to do the route from Austria to home (the second leg).
After some further thinking, I suggested we take a shorter route, and Filipe to do the whole trip (meaning I did not need my hoist for lifting or total wheelchair accessible accommodation). I was still concerned for Kasia missing out on the trip and working less days. However, she agreed to support me in Poland (with Filipe just lifting me and taking some time out the rest of the day), and then I will be back in the UK earlier than originally planned, when Kasia will start working again.
Therefore guys, I am still going next Saturday!
I still require the funds for the ferry, fuel and some accommodation. The new route is below. If you know anyone in Vilnius, Warsaw, Krokow or Prague please let me know.
The plan is still to write and video my experiences (arguably far more difficult now), and interview other disabled people and disability charities. Furthermore the media coverage will change perceptions, and I will still fundraise for those I interview off of this coverage.
I have spoken a couple of times to CoachbuiltGB who did feel terrible. We agreed it was more the timing that created such a terrible situation. An hour earlier, I wouldn’t have launched, and a week later I would have had the motorhome. We have agreed to partner on a caravan/motorhome project next year in the countries I am missing out on this time.
I am sad to not have the motorhome, and this new version will be VERY challenging. Maybe I am stubborn, maybe I am stupid, but I sure as hell am doing this.
I guess everything happens for a reason. I sometimes feel like we are tested to see how much we really want something. Whilst this trip is not as I imagined, or originally planned; it will still be an amazing experience.
Just to see how Kasia, Filipe, Rico (my friend in Germany), Basia (a friend from the European Voluntary Service) and their contacts are being so helpful; it shows people are good. It takes something like a persons dream and a bigger cause to show us this.
Thanks to everyone who has made this project possible!
So, its still not 100% finished. Continue introducing me to interviewees, media bods and most importantly – please give to the project costs. With this money I can afford the project and make a huge splash with it all.