Talking with Miguel Nonay: A wheelchair traveller and more
Eurodesk Jaca: You have to be very brave for travelling in a regular way despite the difficulties faced by a disabled person. Access to public transport or accommodation facilities can become a tough odyssey. Plus, tell it doing it well is a Herculean task.
What inspired you to record and disseminate your experiences on a blog?
Nonay Miguel: I became interested in blogging in 2009: at that time bloggers were considered weirdos. I liked to follow because it was a new medium of expression.
In 2009 I started my blog in which I tell my experiences as a wheelchair traveler. I wanted to tell my trips in a cheerful and relaxing tone, and I think the blog name pretty much sums up this intention.
A salto de mata is graphic Spanish idiom that helps to figure out all the difficulties faced by a person in a wheelchair who wants to enjoy holidays without losing the mood and attitude determination to overcome difficulties.
The photos where I being carried could male someone to give up, but at the end show that traveling is enjoying.
EJ: On the blog you tell the good experiences, give advice and you prevent possible difficulties. For sure you will run into disastrous places. Do you make suggestions for improvement? Do you make negative reviews?
MN: First of all I would like to make clear that I did not dedicate myself to certify as accessible or inaccessible places I visit. It is not my aim. Furthermore, I mistrust from certificates myself because, many times, their ratings do not match reality.
There may be certified as suitable places for reduce mobility users but, in fact, the real problems to disabled people are not solved accurately (ramps wrongly designed or not solutions for people with sensory disabilities for example). I don’t want to annoy any organization of certification, but these are things that I’ve suffered myself very often.
I just reveal the good places for sightseeing in wheelchair and I can help with my experience to improve the accessibility issues. What I want is to move and enthuse. In Spain there are 4million people with disabilities who need to feel they can travel without suffering a nightmare.
EJ: We see that you have made of this commitment a way to put food on your table. You have created Travellers without limit. We love the company motto: "Worse than no accessibility is an unknown accessibility" Can you give us more details of this project?
MN: This is an entrepreneurial adventure I decide to star after a complaint to RENFE. I had a trouble to catch a train with my motorized wheelchair and ended with a complaint to the Spanish Ombudsman. A complaint that mobilized thousands of people through my blog and that was a social media campaign with an unexpected force. From there, I thought it was important to find out all the friendly wheelchair locations.
On one hand I help anyone with disabilities to plan their travels (for free, of course). On the other side, I give the details that make a destination “No Limit Friendly ". It is a task of sharing experiences and emotions. I've reviewed so far 150 locations, of which 90 are international and more than 300 hotels and others accessible locations
EJ: You relay a lot on ICTs; you make a wise use of blogs and social networks and uses podcasts to spread your proposals and advices. In which way ICT has helped disabled people?
MN: It has made us more equal because it helps spread situations and experiences; and has democratized the access and the dissemination of information. For people with disabilities has meant the ability to share problems, successes and concerns.
EJ: Tell us three tips for anyone who wants to travel in a wheelchair and three places in Spain where a disabled person wouldn’t find obstacles to enjoy their holiday.
- Don’t forget a tyre inflator and some patches for flat tyres. It seems silly but.... sometimes happens.
- Don’t put yourself any limits in advance: stand in front of a world map or open Google Maps and ask; where I want to go? And from here start to enquire, investigate the network. Go to Switzerland, a country with accessibility, but still mountainous, is different to go to Costa Rica. In “Developing countries” are missing a lot of accessibility solutions, but can be supplied by the willingness to help showed from their inhabitants.
- Make a previous check from the real accessibility conditions before to book. Get in touch with the hotels, check out the public transports. It’s the key to avoid annoyance and nightmares.
As the more accessible destinations in Spain: Asturias, Aragon and Girona.
Thanks’ a lot, Miguel. We’ll keep following you.
Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Ayuntamiento de Jaca