26 Apr 2023

Florida 2022 - Two weeks of spectacular normality

What is it like to travel through Florida for two weeks as a wheelchair user? What hurdles are there? How wheelchair accessible are transportation and facilities? A field report by Matthias Fuchs from Guidzter.

Pretty excited my wife and I start into this vacation, because for three years it is the first that we make again without a camper. Our journey starts right at the apartment door, with the S-Bahn to the airport.

Barrier-free room? Of course!

Key West - The drive over the bridges of the Overseas Highway, right through the ocean, is spectacular. At the hotel we have a déjà vu, because chickens and a rooster march across the parking lot. This reminds us of the island of Kauaii, there these animals also just run around freely. Many questions simply do not arise in the USA. Barrier-free room, wheelchair accessible shuttle bus - of course! This lack of worry is almost unusual and contributes to the fact that real relaxation spreads in the vacation.

We don't just hop from hotel to hotel, but always seek out adventures, like the Everglades Safari Park. Again, it's a moment when it strikes me as extraordinarily positive that everything is normal. It is normal for a person in a wheelchair to want to ride in a propeller boat. It is normal that I can look at everything in this park, without stairs and steps. It's normal that there is a handicapped accessible restroom.

All of this makes it incredibly easy to marvel at the nature of the Everglades, which is so unique. The alligators, the many birds and the wonderful plants with water everywhere.

Miami - With its glossy facades, it is the stark contrast. Ocean Drive in the famous Art Deco style is a special attraction at dusk and at night. Florida shows itself in the most colorful colors.

On Black Friday, of course, you go to the mall! Shopping until the credit card glows, from the Nike Store to Victoria Secrets and the Levi's store to the Oakley. It is just normal that even a person in a wheelchair moves in these crowds.

Guest in the "Rocket Garden"

I freaked out when I read a few days earlier that we would be able to see the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket live at the Kennedy Space Center. Rarely have I looked forward to an event so much. And again, it's just normal for a person with a wheelchair to come here, too.

You experience normalcy as something so special and totally relaxing at the same time. Past the "rocket garden" we go to a meadow where we have a clear view of the launch pad. We follow the countdown on the video wall, watch the engines ignite and a few moments later see the rocket rise into the cloudless sky. The Americans just know how to put on a good show, as evidenced by the other attractions here, like the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.

If someone had told me in 2019 that I could savor the Kennedy Space Center or two days of Disney World like this, I would have outright called them crazy at the time. What's almost crazy to me is the fun I was able to have at Disney World. No day in the Magic Kingdom is allowed to end without fireworks. There is even a separate area with a clear view of the illuminated Disney Castle and the spectacle in the sky.

My tip: Buy souvenirs during the day, after the fireworks, the stores are totally crowded and the lines at the cash registers endless.

Without the wheelchair, I would never have been able to experience everything on this vacation, let alone enjoy it so much. If you want to go on vacation in a wheelchair, the USA is a real tip. It's too good just to be normal.

This was the personal travel report of Matthias Fuchs from the Guidzter.com team. You can meet him and other guides at REHAB. Here he presents his travel experiences live.