Everybody has the right to travel
It’s a beaming, end-of-trip group picture like countless others, except that three people are in wheelchairs, while a fourth is on crutches. It was taken at the end of a short trip to Udaipur that included visits to the City Palace and Lake Pichola.
The trip was organized by Planet Abled, a company that enables those with disabilities to travel. Neha Arora, the company’s 33-year-old founder, firmly believes that “travel is not a privilege but a basic right”. She has taken about 100 people with disabilities on holiday since she set up Planet Abled in November 2015. The trips are inclusive, meant for people with different disabilities, as well as their families and friends and anybody else who wants to join in. The goal is to assist the disabled to enjoy memorable experiences with as much ease and convenience as everybody else. Many of those who go on her tours are travelling for the first time.
In a review online, Binni Kumari, who is congenitally blind and signed up for Planet Abled’s tour to the Mehrauli Archaeological Park and Qutab Complex in Delhi, wrote about her joy on discovering a mixed group of people with different disabilities and those without any. “We all were in one caravan and I felt it was a true example of inclusion. I felt that we all were equal because our prior knowledge about the Mehrauli Archaeological Park and Qutab Complex was not that great and all of us, persons with and without disabilities, were learning together.”
Arora’s inspiration came from her parents, and her personal experience of the difficulties faced while planning trips with them. Her father is blind and her mother uses a wheelchair. Yet disability did not dim the family’s wanderlust, nor that of the many others who seek out Planet Abled’s services.
The company has fixed group departures that anyone can sign up for, local city tours, romantic getaways for couples, and customized tours. One of Arora’s biggest accomplishments so far has been conducting a three-day rafting and ziplining trip to Rishikesh, breaking the notion that adventure activities are out of bounds for disabled individuals. Planet Abled also encourages people without disabilities to sign up for their tours as travel buddies.
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