Goodbye Hibernation, Hello Exploration: My Seasonal Journey as a Disabled Traveller 

Spring has arrived, flowers are popping up and longer days coming back at last! For me, as a disabled traveller, it’s like a wake-up call, cheering me on and nudging me to step more daringly out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, winter has its charms, cosy nights in and cups of steaming hot chocolate for starters, but its chilly weather isn’t always great for inclusion. There’s a certain magic in the spring air that gets my adventurous spirit tingling. It’s like my body itself throws off the winter blanket and says, “Let’s go exploring!” 

A watercolour-style illustration of a red and cream train with a beige roof and dark windows in front of a turquoise sea. The train is positioned towards the bottom right of the image on top of a section of green grass with colourful flowers which runs along the bottom of the image. The ocean behind the train is quite a small strip running parallel above the grass. In the top left of the ocean is a red and white striped lighthouse. Above the ocean two fluffy white clouds sit on the horizon line. Most of the image is then blue sky with a blurred blue sun top left and white seagulls.

Recently that travel itch led me to Bristol to see a friend. We only see each other around once a year, so this day trip was eagerly – and long – awaited. Good food, good company and the hope of spring sunshine, what more could I ask for? 

Well, maybe wheelchair accessibility… and a little more time in the morning! Thanks to my lovely friend ADHD, time blindness decided to join me that day and minutes vanished quicker than a new years resolution. Poof! Gone! The meticulously planned morning routine went out the window. What should have taken ten minutes to complete stretched into an hour. Ten minutes turned into twenty, then thirty and suddenly I was staring at the clock in horror. The train departure loomed large and a cold knot of panic began to tighten in my stomach. Was this it? Was my grand Bristol adventure going to be derailed before it even began?  The familiar voice of doubt started whispering its insidious message: “Maybe you should just stay home. It’s too much hassle. You’ll never make it on time.”… 

But I’ve learned to work with my wonderfully whimsical body. It’s a partnership that’s taken time and patience, but it’s more than worth it. Winter finds me craving warmth and comfort and venturing outside is a constant battle against the elements for us wheelchair users. But I know that my mental wellbeing suffers if I don’t get that dose of fresh air. 

But spring…ahh spring. Now that is a different story! It’s my personal awakening. The promise of warm sunshine a gentle hand on my back, urging me forward. With the warmer weather comes a boost of confidence. It’s as if the extra daylight gives me an extra dose of “I can do it!” attitude. My sluggish, reluctant winter-body becomes invigorated, excited by the possibilities. As the ice melts outside, so melts my reluctance to stray from home, and I’m reminded how my body is in conversation with the world around me. 

I had my own accessibility resource in my pocket – the Passenger Assistance app. Requesting assistance in advance meant one less worry swirling around in my head. No last-minute scrambles, just the reassurance that assistance would be there when I needed it. It might sound like a small thing, but that sense of security makes a world of difference for me. 

If you’re planning your own spring adventure and have access needs, you can download the Passenger Assistance app or visit their website at the following link: 

So, back to my Bristol escapade. With a deep breath and a silent “what if I don’t?” (my mantra for combating those annoying panic gremlins), I pushed myself to go out the door and catch that train. The journey was smooth and by the time I rolled into Bristol Temple Meads station, that welcome feeling of personal accomplishment washed over me. 

And then, there she was, my friend, beaming her “hello you!” outside the station. The relief, the joy, the pure happiness of that moment – that’s what makes every adventure, every push outside my comfort zone, so utterly worth it. 

About the Author

“In 2019, life changed when I faced a sudden change in my disability and became a full-time wheelchair user. After a short period battling my situation, instead of fading away, I chose to embrace my new reality. Now, I advocate for inclusivity and acceptance. I’m proud to promote self-confidence, leading discussions on empowerment on shows like This Morning and platforms like BBC Radio and London Fashion Week. My goal is to celebrate uniqueness and empower everyone to confidently take their place in the world.”

Sandie Roberts has short grey hair and red lipstick, wearing a blue/grey blazer. Sandie sits holding their chin in one hand.

Sandie Roberts