My Journey: Accessible Travel

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on May 18, 2020 # Travel

By guest author Ashley Lyn Oslon

At age Fourteen, I was paralyzed in a horrible car wreck that took the life of my father, crippled my mother and injured my younger sister. That one moment transformed my entire world, but it couldn’t damper my spirit. I graduated high school on-time and received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California where I graduated with honors.wheelchairtraveling.com stats for 2020

After high school, a group of friends and I traveled to Greece. It was tough getting around, but for fourteen memorable days I had the time of my life. Years later, I went to Berlin and had a totally different experience with more accessibility. Those two trips lit a fire in me to discover more. I wanted to see the world! Now that I was paralyzed, I wondered, ‘what can I see and do now?’

After college, I first interned at an indie music management company followed by four years of employment at Wente Vineyards where I was the Executive Marketing and Production Assistant for the Concerts; performers George Carlin to Crosby, Stills and Nash to Ray Charles graced the stage.

I quit this job in 2009 to go full-time with wheelchairtraveling.com, which I founded in 2006. The website was designed so that not only I but anyone around the world could share their travel experiences – from basic travel needs to thrill seeking adventures. Finding accurate accessible travel information is challenging and sometimes non-existent and I wanted to change this. Plus, we all have different interests, abilities, and things we are or are not willing to put up with, and all of these perspectives are needed to be represented when it comes to the world of accessible travel. The mission of wheelchairtraveling.com is to empower people with limited mobility, their friends and loved ones to access and experience the world of leisure and adventure travel.

Breaking away from boundaries and testing our limits takes courage, which makes the journey of life all that more satisfying. That’s the main reason I founded wheelchairtraveling.com—to remove mental and physical barriers surrounding travel.

My role at wheelchairtraveling.com has crossed over into many areas of life to empower people. I am an advocate for reasonable accessibility on many fronts from hotels to airplanes to city-planning to healthy lifestyle options. I’ve traveled to many countries on five continents, personally experiencing the diversity of accessible travel. I work with both the CA State Parks and the National Park Service to improve access to parks, which has been transformed into the May 2015 launch of the Access to Parks Project. In 2020, I traveled to New Zealand to assess access at parks across the country. I also lecture about accessible travel around the country for all different size groups, mentor newly injured people with spinal cord injuries, write for national magazines, am an ambassador for the Abilities Expo, and more.

Ever since my injury, my eyes have been opened to the beauty of life, from the grandest of scales to the tiniest little parts. Now 15 years and a college degree later, I welcome life with open arms and remember that all journeys begin with an open heart.