Don’t Let Your Wheels Rob You of a Great Cultural Experience!

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Deborah Davis is proof that a wheelchair and international home exchange are, in fact, compatible!

Deborah has successfully exchanged her handicapped accessible home near Fort Lauderdale, Florida not once, but three times.  She has swapped her home for homes in Paris (France), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Vancouver (Canada.)  She exchanged for about 12 days in each home.

Coincidently, when I asked Deborah what home exchange website she used to arrange her three exchanges, she said “HomeForEchange.com.”  As you may know, HomeForExchange.com is the website that I have used to arrange all of my home exchanges as well.

Like most home exchangers, Deborah home-exchanges with her family, which consisted of herself, her then husband (now divorced), and her daughter, who is now 21.  This is what she mentions makes international home exchanges special for her family, “I can have my daughter come with us and stay in the same home, in a family environment.  We can cook healthy meals at home. We can experience a real local living lifestyle and get to know neighbors and make new friends with exchange members.”

Deborah indicates that her own home is equipped as follows:

“I have a one story home with ramps and access to front door and back patio.  I have a pool lift, a shower chair and a raised height toilet for easier transfers.  I also have a ramp van with hand controls for swap.”

Deborah enjoying Canada, while on home exchange in Vancouver.

Deborah enjoying Canada, while on home exchange in Vancouver.

Ideally, Deborah would want to find home exchanges which meet her exact needs, which she says would entail “minimum stairs, a minimum 28 inch wide door width for bathroom, a toilet that is minimum 17 inches high for transfers, a bathtub preferably or a shower I can put a shower chair into and transfer to from wheelchair.”

I’ve asked Deborah if it was difficult to find exchange homes that met her accessibility needs:

“Yes, very much so…they were not fully accessible in that they were not built or retrofitted to be so. We just found the most accessible options and with the help of my husband and daughter, we managed.”

I assume the same goes for accessible cars.  Do you have special requirements for a car?

“Yes, [I require] a ramp, a swivel driver’s seat, and hand controls.”

Is it hard to find exchanges with cars that are properly equipped?

“Absolutely.  I have never had an exchange with a fully accessible property and a fellow disabled person, so I have never driven the vehicle.”

Can you rent a car with the necessary equipment?

“Yes, but I have not had to as I had family member’s drive.”

So, I asked Deborah, “based on your experiences with international home exchange, is home exchange currently a viable option for handicapped individuals, even those who use wheelchairs?”

“I think it is an options for those with less limiting disabilities, like those who have some mobility or use lightweight and smaller manual wheelchairs so they can manage some steps and can function in smaller bathrooms.”

I’d like to point out here, that Deborah, with her business partner, Bill Forrester, have recently launched a new website that specializes in handicapped accessible home exchanges, home rentals, and even home sales.  That is how I met Deborah.  Mr. Martin Heng who heads up the Travel for All Project for Lonely Planet was kind enough to put me in touch with Deborah.  Being the huge international home exchange fan and supporter that I am, I was thrilled to hear about their new website called TravabilityProperties.com. 

Note, this website is a new addition to Davis and Forrester’s other websites:  PushLiving.com, TravAbility.com, and PhotoAbility.net.

I really believe that if more homeowners with wheelchair accessible properties start listing their properties, international home exchange could really become a much more viable style of “Travel for All”.  Obviously, Davis and Forrester feel the same.

I asked Deborah why she decided to create TravabilityProperties.com.

“The process of finding an accessible or even semi accessible property can be extremely frustrating and hugely time consuming due to lacking accessibility search criteria or properties that meet even minimal accessibility needs. This challenge is what inspired me to create a site that would meet this need for me and others!”

I asked Deborah if she could offer any advice to those wishing to give international home exchange a try?

“List your home on TravabilityProperties.com! As we have just launched, we are inviting you to become a complimentary member and one of the first to be a part of this promising new project.”

I highly encourage anyone who is handicapped (or has a handicapped family member) and who has a strong desire to enjoy affordable, yet rich cultural travel, to list their properties on this new and promising site.   There is no cost, you have absolutely nothing to lose, and SO MUCH TO GAIN!

I asked Deborah for a final comment about what the site has to offer.

“Our property website has been custom built to include detailed accessibility data both for your property and for the local area.  You can gather all or as much of the information as you wish in the property forms provided.”

If you do not currently have a home you wish to join, please take a moment and like and share our feature article on PushLiving.com in the “Travel” section on the new site with those who you feel may be interested now or in the future.

In conclusion, in my book, Have Home Will Travel, I have included a chapter on the subject of inclusive international home exchange.  In this chapter, I have included additional information about TravabilityProperties as well as several other home exchange websites with handicapped or wheelchair accessible properties; I even include how many of these classified properties each website has in their listings database by geographic area. Have Home Will Travel is available on the Trusting Traveler website and on Amazon.com (and on Amazons European sites as well.)

Re-Posted with updates from The Trusting Traveler, Originally posted April 2014

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