Dear Reader,

My name is Melanie. I’m a 32 years old travel lover on wheels.

If you are looking for wheelchair-accessible travel inspiration, don’t go any further!

You’ll feel right at home, here on the Little Miss Turtle Wheelchair Accessible Travel Blog!

WHAT THIS BLOG IS ABOUT

On Little Miss Turtle, I write about my accessible travel adventures and life with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. At the age of 4, I was diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2i (known as LGMD2i/LGMDR9) and got my first wheelchair around the age of 6. It took me some time to process, but over the years, my wheelchair became my best friend. This precious companion keeps me moving forward towards new experiences. I have a restless traveler’s heart and love to discover new places all around the world. At 15, it turned out that my LGMD started to affect both my cardiac and respiratory function. This background allowed me to realize at a young age that life is precious and that it may go by faster than we think. From this understanding, two priorities came along: Firstly, learning absolutely EVERYTHING about LGMD2i and secondly, traveling everywhere I could as long as my condition would allow it. Learn all about how and why I became an accessible travel blogger in the "Travel is Life" section further below.

WHAT LIMB-GIRDLE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY IS

Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, or just LGMD, is an umbrella term for a rare genetic muscular disorder with more than 30 known subtypes, each of them affecting a different gene. The disease varies in severity. Symptoms can appear from early childhood up to adult age. It first affects the proximal muscles (hips, shoulders, quads), but finally, muscles all over the body can be involved. LGMD causes mild to severe weakness and muscle wasting, which can eventually lead to a complete loss of function. In some subtypes, the heart and respiratory muscles may be affected (mildly or severely). In short, LGMD is a genetic disease affecting muscle cells only. Therefore it has no impact on the brain, the nervous system or other organs. Muscular Dystrophy (MD) is too often times mistaken for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune disease, which affects the central nervous system. Also, unlike MS, Muscular Dystrophies are classified as Rare Diseases. A mid-2019 scientific paper estimates, for example, that LGMD2i (recently renamed LGMDR9) would affect 4.5 people out of a million.

HOW I MANAGE TO TRAVEL DESPITE MY DISABILITY

Quite frankly, traveling just wouldn't be possible for me without help. With this being said, I always travel with my husband, who is not only my best travel buddy but also my full-time caregiver. We both are adventurous, and my husband doesn't hesitate to piggyback me when we encounter obstacles, like inaccessible buses or metro stations. I am more than thankful for his amazing support! You also need to know that I am a travel deal hunter and love to travel as budget-friendly as possible.

WHY "LITTLE MISS TURTLE"

Living with a rare degenerative disease such as limb-girdle muscular dystrophy is quite a challenging experience. Though I was never able to run or climb stairs, at some point in the progression of my illness, I could walk. This "walking" of mine had always felt pretty natural and "normal" to me until I one day realized that it was clearly not very "standard." Nevertheless, it got the job done and took me from point A to point B, slowly of course, but also pretty smoothly… just like a turtle, in some ways. Also, this animal has a friendly reputation, which served as an inspiration for the name of my blog. Not to mention that if you lose sight of a turtle for a few minutes, you might not see it again for a while… it's gone! Gone exploring it's "world"!

You are thinking: “Why haven’t I found this travel blog earlier?!”

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LMT is on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, too.

Hope to see you soon!

Love,

 

 

TRAVEL IS LIFE!

Travel is (my) life

 

Earlier in my life, I pretty clearly understood the challenges and the outcomes of my physical condition. It is one thing to have a muscular disease affecting your limbs. However, it is quite something else when your respiratory system and heart are also severely affected.

At some point in my process of acknowledging the severity of my type of muscular dystrophy (LGMD), I figured I might as well ‘Live in the NOW’! That’s when I realized I had to be more careful about my priorities and choices.

Most of us are unfortunately too often forced to believe in the concepts of ‘save now, spend later’ and ‘work hard now, live later’… The question is: When is later? A few years back, my next door neighbor finally retired from an indeed ‘brilliant’ career. He worked very hard for a countless number of years. He earned a lot of money, allowing him to buy and possess much ‘wealth.’ Unfortunately, he passed just a few months after retiring.

My point is not to convince anyone that working should be avoided! No, my point is that ‘tomorrow’ is very much uncertain, so why not create your own ‘life strategy,’ instead of falling in the trap of ‘copy/pasting’ obsolete life-patterns.
Step by step, years after years, my priorities became more explicit. If my days were counted (more than average I mean), why not make them count?!

I was determined to live my most enjoyable life WITH (and not against) the cards I was handed and make something good come out of it (not knowing what at that time).

With this mindset, I started traveling, already using a wheelchair. I decided to spend money on traveling instead of spending it on savings (who would spend it for me when I’m gone). Paying for unforgettable life experiences started becoming way more important to me than gathering objects and owning things and properties.

My first long haul flight as a wheelchair user brought me to the US west coast in 2011. At that time I had no clue I would meet my crazy, adventurous husband soon and so I thought this 21 days long RV road trip would be my one and only trip of a lifetime. My travel buddy for this trip was my amazing stepdad who volunteered to come with me and be my caregiver for the whole journey.

Since then, I experienced 14 different countries, each one giving me the inspiration to always travel more… at least for as long as my condition still allows it. Every year, my body and heart get weaker. I know that in less than 3 to 4 years I’ll probably switch from buying plane tickets to train & bus tickets. This is why the destinations I choose to write about nowadays mostly include long-range flights.

One thing I rarely mention about my LMT Blog is that it represents a lot of work and energy (for both, my husband and me).
I started this blog because the more I got to travel, the more I noticed how difficult it was to find useful, helpful, and – most importantly – reliable information for wheelchair travelers. My presence online serves only one purpose: To bring a minor contribution to benefit the wheelchair community wishing to travel.

I don’t believe ‘destinations’ should be considered as trophies to brag about. However, to those of you continually asking me where I have traveled to already, you’ll find a complete list further below. I sometimes regret not having taken any notes before I launched the Little Miss Turtle Wheelchair Travel Blog. I would have loved to be able to share with you all of my (more or less) wheelchair accessible travel experiences from the beginning.

MAP

of the Countries I have experienced so far

LIST & LINKS of COUNTRIES & CITIES

I have experienced

 

 

BELGIUM

🔗 Brussels

BRASIL

🔗 Rio de Janeiro

CANADA

🔗 Banff N. Park

• Calgary

• Canmore

• Edmonton

🔗 Jasper N. Park

• Montreal

• Niagara Falls

• Quebec City

• Vancouver

CHINA

• Hong-Kong

FRANCE

• Antibes

• Bordeaux

• Cannes

• Eze

🔗 Gourdon

🔗 Isola 2000

• Marseille

• Monaco

• Mont-Saint-Michel

• Nantes

• Nice

• Paris

🔗 Saint-Malo

• Saint-Paul-de-Vence

GERMANY

• Berlin

• Cologne

🔗 Dusseldorf

• Hamburg

• Munich

• Nuremberg

GREECE

• Athens

• Kalymnos

• Kos

• Santorini

ITALY

• Venice

JAPAN

• Fukuoka

• Hiroshima

🔗 Kagoshima

• Kamakura

🔗 Miyajima

• Nagoya

• Nara

🔗 Okinawa

• Osaka

🔗 Sakurajima

🔗 Tokyo

NETHERLANDS

• Amsterdam

SOUTH AFRICA

• Betty’s Bay

🔗 Cape Town

• Paarl

SPAIN

• Barcelona

🔗 Tenerife

UNITED KINGDOM

• London

UNITED STATES

• Atlanta • Bakersfield

• Big Sur • Buffalo 🔗 Chicago

• Flagstaff • Fresno

• Grand Canyon N. Park

• Hoover DamIowa City

• Joshua Tree N. Park

• Kingman • Lake Tahoe

• Las Vegas • Los Angeles

• New York City • Palm Springs

• Phoenix • Sacramento

• San Diego • San Francisco

• Santa Barbara

• Yosemite N. Park

Take a few minutes of your time and...

😊 Share your thoughts ⬇️

9 comments

  • Claudia 11/08/2016   Reply →

    Hallo Melanie, wunderbarer blog, so positiv, interessant und einfach herzerwärmend! Du bist eine so starke Persönlichkeit, Hut ab und danke, dass Du dies mit anderen Menschen teilst! Freue mich, mehr von Dir zu lesen! Schade, dass alles nur auf englisch ist – warum nur? Liebe Grüße Claudia

    • Melanie 11/08/2016   Reply →

      Hallo Claudia! Dankeschön für deinen wunderbaren Kommentar :-)! Ich freue mich sehr, dass dir der Blog gefällt! Ich schreibe auf Englisch, um meine Erlebnisse mit möglichst vielen Menschen weltweit zu teilen. Liebe Grüße zurück, Melanie

  • Martini 29/06/2018   Reply →

    Liebe Melly,

    ich finde deinen Blog megastark, weil er genau diese Lebensfreude und Kreativität von dir widerspiegelt! Es war und ist ein riesengroßes Glück, dass ich so einen tollen und starken Menschen wie dich zu meinen allerliebsten Freunden zählen kann! Du bist einfach wunderbar! ich freu mich sehr auf unser Wiedersehen! Deine Martini

  • Julie 25/08/2018   Reply →

    Your blog is fully inspired and well organized. Thank you for being an inspiration

  • Richard Many 05/11/2018   Reply →

    Hi Melanie, So happy to have found your travel blog. Like you, I have LGMD (mine is 2L) diagnosed 40+ years ago while in college. Unlike yours, mine resembles turtle-like progression so am still able to walk short distances with Canadian Crutches but use a scooter more and more. My wife and I love to travel like you but have confined our travel to the US so far. Looking forward to reading your posts and following you travels. Thanks for being there. RM

    • Melanie 05/11/2018   Reply →

      Hi Richard!
      Thank you so much! I really appreciate your comment. It’s great to hear that your progression is turtle-like :-)!!
      Let’s keep in touch!
      Melanie

  • Judyrosella 19/02/2019   Reply →

    I’ve been in a Powerchair for a little over a year. Before that I had a walker. Before that, a cane. I just discovered you and would like to know more about the manual chair in the South Africa post from today.

  • Chuck 03/09/2019   Reply →

    I had the privilege of hearing you speak this past weekend in Chicago. You and many others I met this weekend are truly inspirational. I applaud your attitude and fortitude for making your life the best it can possibly be despite possessing this incurable disease. Here’s to many more years of travel and a cure for LGMD in the near future!

  • Jim Beilfuss 11/12/2019   Reply →

    Wow, Melanie, what a wonderful blog for those who travel with a wheelchair in tow – an all-around inspiring website! Thanks for sharing your experiences with such detailed information about your destinations.

    My adult daughter, who has disabilities and will live with my wife and me until we can no longer care for her, LOVES to travel. While I can’t see us ever being able to take her overseas (we live in the US), your information on Banff/Jasper and Chicago will be helpful when we plan some trips there in the future.

    May you enjoy your future travels and have happiness always.

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