Traveling the World With a Physical Disability, Episode 16 of Travel + Leisure’s New Podcast
Like every episode of Let's Go Together — the podcast celebrating diversity in travel — this week's episode has some very special guests. Over the course of the show we've introduced you to travelers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds, like Glo Antanmo, a Black female blogger seeing the world on her terms, and plus-sized travelers who refuse to let stereotypes keep them off the road.
This week, host Kellee Edwards — who shared her own powerful story as a Black female pilot, explorer, and TV host on a recent episode — is joined by Cory Lee and Hannah Gavios, two travelers living with physical disabilities that haven't stopped them from maxing out the pages of their passports.
Lee, who runs the wheelchair travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy, at the age of two. For Lee, knowing that the progression of his disease would eventually change his physical abilities served as a catalyst for getting out in the world now.
"So that's a big reason why I try to do as much as I can now," Lee told Edwards. "At the moment while I'm… more able than I will be 10 years from now. And that's why I started traveling the world at a young age. My mom was a school teacher and we would take the summers to kind of explore domestically in the U.S. when I was younger."
At the age of 15, Lee began traveling internationally and never looked back. Today he's traveled to all seven continents.
For Gavios, life with a physical disability began after she was already traveling the world. While working as a teacher in Southeast Asia, Gavios fell 150 feet off a cliff while trying to escape from someone attempting to sexually assault her in Thailand. After emergency spinal surgery, Gavios was told she had an "incomplete injury," meaning she was still able to slightly move below the waist.
"So when doctors told me that… most of my recovery would happen in six months and then not much recovery would happen after two years I thought, 'nah, I'm going to beat this in three, four months. I'm going to be walking and running again,'" she told Edwards.
She did — and then some. Since her accident Gavios has run two marathons on crutches and continued to travel the world.
Over the course of the episode Gavios and Lee talk about the reality of their situations as everyday people and international travelers, from the misconceptions people have about their physical limitations to the logistics of navigating countries with different levels of accessibility.