This time I would like to tell you a story. A story about friendship, faith in oneself, travel and breaking barriers. A story of an aircraft engineer Sergio who designs fighter planes for a living. Who has a deep interest in spirituality and wanted to travel to India to explore what each of its religions offers. But was not sure if he would be able to do it and if it was possible for him to venture all alone across the country. The fear of the unknown on the very first trip outside his country and on the first holiday of his life struck him. Also, English not being his spoken language made things tougher. He kept thinking about it for a couple of years.
Then his guardian angel came disguised as his best friend. She knew him for years and realised she had to do something about it as he was getting restless and anxious about it.
Somewhere the stars aligned on the world wide web, she located us and reached out and we started talking. And then she sent me a long list of places her friend wanted to visit. After an exchange of I don’t know how many mails, it all got fixed. And then it happened. A trip that raised the bar of Planet Abled being the longest, biggest and most widespread trip we did. And I would not say that we were not apprehensive, it was a first time for us too. This August we celebrated the first anniversary of the historic tour that broke all barriers of accessible travel in India. A solo tour that spanned across India and Nepal, across 5 states and 13 cities in India. Something never done before. And it went so wonderful that now Sergio is looking forward to come to India again next year to cover the rest of the states. How cool is that?
Ohh and did I tell you that Sergio happens to be a wheelchair user.
Often a traveller with disability has a lot of apprehensions and doubts about travelling but I guess it works both ways. We were equally apprehensive about our biggest tour till then and had our own doubts and fears, if we would be able to pull it off seamlessly and do justice to the trust Sergio and his best friend has put in us. But somewhere that fear only gave us the strength to prepare the tour to the minutest of detail and make it successful and create history. He came, he saw, he conquered, we conquered.
Now you must be thinking why we never talked about it all through the past one year. Well because we were busy doing more and more of such trips and breaking more and more barriers in travel.
It makes me feel really proud that at Planet Abled we have been able to raise the bar of accessible travel in India. Celebrating the first anniversary of such a landmark moment is really special indeed and we wanted to share it with all the beautiful people who make us what we are today. Each such threshold places more and more responsibility on our shoulders and we are all geared up for the long road ahead. Stay with us 🙂
– Neha Arora
Neha Arora is the founder of Planet Abled who left her corporate career to build the ecosystem for accessible travel in India. Her inspiration came from the not so good travel experiences of travelling with her parents both of whom are persons with different disabilities.