While Paralympic medalist and TV personality Ade A
While Paralympic medalist and TV personality Ade Adepitan might be best known for his sporting prowess and entertaining presenting style, he’s also an enthusiastic and frequent traveller. Ade’s Top DestinationsSo of all the places he has visited, which has been Ade’s favourite? Well it turns out he can’t narrow it down to just one. “It really depends on what you love. The history and architecture of Rome is unbelievable, and Italy in general is a great destination for amazing landscapes…plus it’s not far for UK travellers. “The Ancient Nabateans were not thinking about wheelchair users when they built the city… but it was outstanding”“If you want to get more exotic, I’ve just been to the city of Petra, in Jordon, and that was outstanding, really outstanding. It was genuinely breath-taking. There was a lack of accessibility, granted; the ancient Nabateans were not thinking about wheelchair users when they built the city. I had a few people offering to stick me on the back of a donkey!”Ade found that he was constantly asked what could be done to make Petra more accessible for disabled travellers. “Locals went the extra mile… they actually got a golf buggy out for us so we could get around, which was pretty perfect.” Kiki MacDonald, co-founder at disabled access charity Euan’s Guide, caught up with Ade as he was preparing to head off to Rio as part of Channel’s 4’s Paralympic team. Avid traveller Ade shared his top pieces of advice to disabled travellers, the joy of a travel checklist and his favourite destinations.Ade’s Top Travel Tip: Don’t let accessibility issues put you offAde’s attitude to travel is very much in line with his attitude to sport – and in fact everything in life – disability shouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle. Accessibility issues shouldn’t put would-be-travellers off from discovering the world. “I wouldn’t avoid going somewhere because you’re worried about accessibility. That’s one of my key tips. Don’t be afraid, don’t think that somewhere is too off the beaten track to get to so you’ll not go there. That place will never become accessible unless people go there, and when we get there, it’s often our job to educate and let them know [what could be improved]. Be assertive, be confident and stand your ground. If you’re going somewhere and you’re paying for it, tell the people what you want and what you need.” Ade’s Top Travel Tip: Pack an adventurous spiritAs you might expect from a man who counts a tiny island in the Dutch Caribbean as one his favourite spots in the world, Ade embraces the unknown. “I like the excitement of going somewhere new and not quite knowing what lies ahead of me. I think you have to embrace that adventurous spirit that we all have, that’s what makes us human.” “The room wasn’t accessible… so they chopped down a tree and made me a ramp”What about those times when things don’t quite go to plan? Ade admits it’s not always easy but has found that people will often go out of their way to make something right…sometimes in surprising ways. On one such occasion, he’d turned up to his ‘accessible’ room in Kenya to find that it had a number of steps down to the beach – not quite so accessible for a wheelchair user after all.“So I’m in this hotel room and I hear all this sawing and banging. They were literally chopping down a tree and building a ramp as I was in the room. Between me arriving and unpacking my bags, they’d turned it into an accessible room!”Ade’s Top Travel Tip: Checklists are your new best friendIt’s clear that Ade has travelled a lot, both personally and professionally. Yet for many disabled travellers the process can be complicated and at times, overwhelming. Euan’s Guide features disabled access reviews from disabled people and their friends, families and carers and have created a brilliant guide for disabled travellers. We’ve also written a guide to disabled travel for Skyscanner, where we looked at tips for all parts of the travel process, from selecting the right insurance to navigating the airport and airlines. What would Ade what he would add to the mix from his own experience? “Going with a like-minded friend is important and organisation is key. If it’s your first trip, make a checklist. These are all the things I need; this is what I want. Phone up places ahead of your trip and make sure as many of those things are checked off as possible.”“Be assertive: don’t be afraid to tell people what you need from them”Making sure people know what you expect is essential too, particularly pre-flight; “When you get to the airport you have to be really assertive. Speak to the people at check-in desk and make sure they know your needs. Don’t be afraid to say what you require from them. If you want your chair brought to the gate, bring it to the gate. Commonly, disabled people are seen as one homogenous group but we all have very different needs, and it’s important to communicate your own particular ones.” Ade’s first Paralympic Games as a participant in the wheelchair basketball team was in 2000 in Sydney, followed by Athens in 2004, but his final two recommendations can be found on the other side of the world: Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean – “Scuba diving and wildlife…a stunning place” – and Nicaragua. “Nicaragua has everything” he enthuses. “Caribbean beaches, rainforests on one side and the Pacific coast on the other, plus mountains and volcanos in-between. It feels untouched and the people are so, so nice.”Is there anywhere Ade hasn’t been? Sheepishly, he replies “Actually… I haven’t been to Rio…. yet!”Ade is part of Channel 4’s Rio Paralympics presenting team: follow the action @AdeAdepitan, @C4Paralympics and the #superhumans hashtag.Bonus read: Euan’s Guide’s interview with Ade on the challenges of presenting live sport and the stars to watch out for in Rio.Interview by Kiki MacDonald at Euan’s Guide. Euan’s Guide feature disabled access reviews from disabled people and their friends, families and carers. 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