It has a funny name. It autocorrects to “lobster.” It is the Liebster Award, and I am excited to have been nominated for it. The Liebster isn’t given out by a particular organization or board. It is a community-driven recognition, and it is awarded by previous nominees. The award is designed to connect bloggers and to help readers discover new, up and coming blogs.
WheelchairTravel.org was recognized by and received nominations from two incredible women. The first nomination cane from Michaela, who hails from the Czech Republic and writes about food and travel on her blog, 1001 Voyages Gourmands. The second nomination was given by Melissa, who blogs about her 12-month, 12-destination adventure around the world through the Remote Year program. She writes on her self-titled website, Melissa Brown.
No one knows who created the award, but it has been successful in connecting bloggers from all over the world. There are a few rules I am asked to follow in accepting the award: (1) answer the 11 questions provided to me by the nominating blogger; (2) nominate 11 bloggers of my own and share them with my readers; and (3) propose 11 questions of my own that my nominees will have to answer to accept my nomination. Since I was nominated twice, I’ve decided to answer all 22 questions – the first 11 are from Michaela and the second 11 (numbers 12 through 22) are from Melissa! They’re a fun way for me to share some personal information about my travel habits and this blog! 🙂
1. Why did you start blogging?
I have been blogging in various forms since high school. I’ve blogged previously about topics ranging from high school drama to sports, politics and now travel. I created WheelchairTravel.org to share what I had learned about traveling with a wheelchair and disability. I strongly believe that everyone, regardless of their level of ability, should have the opportunity to travel and to experience other cultures. It brings me so much joy, and I want to share information that will help my readers open their world.
2. What inspired the name of your blog?
Honestly, it was SEO. Since I’m a late arrival to the disability blogging world (my car accident was 3 years ago), I searched for a URL with the right keywords. I knew that I could use my love of travel to disrupt the wheelchair travel blogosphere, but I had to be found by the right people! The decision paid off, as WheelchairTravel.org makes the first page on Google for all of the relevant keywords. I’ve also noticed that the tremendous detail found on my website has improved the quality of similar blogs. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. 😉 #winning
3. If you had to start blogging again from scratch, is there something you would do differently?
I am still relatively inexperienced in building an organic social media following. I am always looking for new ways to make readers engage with my posts on Facebook and Twitter. I wish I had paid more attention to that from the start.
4. When traveling, which country surprised you the most in a positive way and why?
Russia. Without question. Moscow was one of the places that I traveled to and found a completely different accessibility situation than what I had read about online. Thankfully, it was better than described! But that isn’t always the case. I think bloggers need to stop writing about places they have never been, particularly if they are writing about wheelchair accessible travel. False information is dangerous for people with disabilities. On my blog, I write only about the places I have visited in my wheelchair. I thought that was common sense. It should be.
5. What was your worst travel experience?
I try not to focus on the negative. It distracts me from the joys of travel. But, I will pint to two things that I have written about before on this blog. The first wasn’t really that negative, as it made me realize just how great people are. It was that time my power wheelchair ran out of battery power in Beijing. That was a nervous, scary thrill! The second is a problem that wheelchair users face all too often: mistreatment by airlines. I wrote about how the DOT and airlines have rigged the game and do very little to protect your civil rights.
6. Do you prefer to travel alone or with your friends/partner/family and why?
I prefer to travel alone. Traveling by myself allows me to be selfish – I can spend my time on activities that I enjoy, and pass on those that do not interest me. Solo traveling also gives me a greater opportunity to meet people and make new friends away from home. That said, I do enjoy traveling with others occasionally. Just last month, I took a trip with my sister to Europe (Brussels, Munich and Prague) and we had a blast. I also have friends located all around the world, so I rarely take a trip that doesn’t include at least one meet-up with someone I know. Traveling alone doesn’t have to be a lonely affair.
7. What countries do you plan to visit this year?
I’m a “last minute” traveler. I love to hop on airfare deals that interest me. So long-term planning is not my style. The only countries I am sure about visiting this year are Canada, the Netherlands and Poland, but there will probably be 10 more added by the end of the year. I’m close to booking a trip to Cambodia, and am discussing trips to Spain and the United Kingdom with sponsors.
8. Have you ever lived abroad – if so, where and how long?
I haven’t, but I hope to take up residence in Berlin, Germany at some point. Hong Kong is where I would like to retire, but that’s at least 30 years off – if I’m lucky!
9. Have you ever been to Belgium – if so, where and what did/didn’t you like?
Yes! I visited Brussels last year, and again last month. It is a beautiful city. The spot I enjoyed most was the pedestrian section of the Boulevard Anspach, just a couple of blocks away from the Grand Place square. It was lively, with people playing all manner of games on the street which is closed to traffic there. Brussels has so much to see and do, and the people are lovely. The negatives? There is so much temptation, with incredible food, waffles and chocolate! It was hard to resist. The one temptation I could not hold back from was the incredible Belgian beer, Leffe. Absolutely love that brew – it tastes like gold in a bottle!
10. What are your three favorite meals?
I am a simple guy. I love a good beef cheeseburger. Not the nasty fast food variety, but with top quality beef and real cheese. I also love cedar-planked salmon. The best salmon I ever had was before my wheelchair, on a weekend trip to Alaska. I think about returning all of the time. Maybe this year. But my favorite meal, hands down, takes me back to the cow, for the ribeye steak. A quality cut and proper preparation makes all the difference. Pair that with mashed potatoes, broccoli and asparagus and I’ll be in heaven.
11. Where in the world did you eat the best?
Depends. Best meal of my life, or best series of meals over the course of a trip? The best meal I ever had was at the JW Steakhouse in Shanghai, China. An incredible steak, well seasoned, with all of my favorite vegetables. The best I ever ate over the course of a trip was in Rome, Italy, quite a number of years ago. I love Italian food and pasta, and the quality was unmatched, day after day.
12. What is your favorite airline?
I have a love/hate relationship with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. But, I did have the incredible opportunity to take the inaugural flight of KLM’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner!
13. Name 3 things you never travel without.
My wheelchair is a given, so I won’t include that. I never travel without my MacBook Air, iPhone and Bose noise-canceling headphones. I don’t functional when I’m disconnected from the world!
14. Why do you travel?
There are so many reasons. But I am in pursuit of beauty. It comes in many forms – sunrises and sunsets, landscapes and city skylines, art, food, history, impressive building, etc. But the greatest beauty comes in the form of people. I love to make new friends and form relationships, to learn about lives different from my own, and to immerse myself in foreign cultures and customs. To me, that is the greatest beauty, and the greatest purpose for travel – new perspectives.
15. Do you have a pre-trip ritual? What is it, and how did you develop it?
Mine is quite typical – I rarely sleep the night before setting off on a new adventure. It is the excitement and anticipation. Not sure if that can truly qualify as a ritual, but I don’t have any superstitions or lucky habits.
16. What’s the best “travel hack” you discovered? If learned from someone, who?
I enjoy playing the loyalty rewards game – airline miles and hotel points. I have a diverse selection of loyalty accounts, and about half of my travel is paid for with points & miles. I don’t blog about that here, but you can learn more at my friend Michael’s blog, TravelZork.
17. Traveling has its complications… Share your biggest obstacle and how you overcame it.
I mentioned this in response to one of Michaela’s questions, and I think it works here too. It was late, I was in Beijing, and had spent the day checking out Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I had a difficult time finding a accessible entrance to the metro, and wasted a lot of my wheelchair’s battery power. I ended up running out of power a few blocks from my hotel, and a kind stranger ultimately pushed me the rest of the way. The beauty of the world is concentrated in its people.
18. Where did you see the best skies? (Sunrise, sunset, clouds, etc.)
Oh, such a tough one! I would say that the best sunrises and sunsets I have seen were in the Hawaiian Islands. Clouds are always best viewed from above, and I always choose a window seat when I fly. But my favorite moment in nature, by far, happened in 2011. I was standing (before my car accident and wheelchair) atop Caines Head in Seward, Alaska. The sounds were only that of nature, snow capped the mountaintops, and the sky was clear and beautiful.
19. In what way has traveling helped you grow?
These days, society is often quick to judge and discriminates easily. My travels have allowed me to experience such a wide range of perspectives, and I have gained the ability to filter out the noise and static of prejudice. It is my hope that one day, we’ll all realize that we’re in this together. Let’s break down the barriers between us and move forward, united in our humanity.
20. What’s your favorite souvenir you’ve picked up, and where is it from?
Ardy was my stuffed camel, and I picked him up in Dubai. He became my travel companion. Yes, that is snow on him in the photo above – he survived a snowstorm with me in Prague! Unfortunately, I left him in a bathroom at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and he hasn’t been found yet. 🙁 RIP Ardy. I’m hoping to get back to Dubai soon, so that I can pick up an Ardy Jr.
21. Where do you say you’re from?
I live in Florida, but I’m from Pennsylvania.
22. How many countries have you visited so far?
If we count the Hong Kong SAR as its own country, 26. China may disagree.
Now, I have the privilege of recommending some great bloggers that bring a lot of value to their readers. With my recommendation comes the
Lobster Liebster Award (keep an eye on that autocorrect!!), should they choose to accept it according to the guidelines at the end of this post.
- Emma from simplyemma.co.uk
- Michael from travelzork.com
- Kate from parisandtheworld.com
- Karin from freewheelintravel.org
- Angelina from angelinatravels.boardingarea.com
- Adina from journeyfreak.com
- Shrey and Ash from thelogicaltraveler.com
- Allan & Kayleigh from onewayoneworld.com
- Bernard from bernardthetraveller.com
- Jeri from anythingispossibletravel.com
- Smriti from atimelessodyssey.wordpress.com
In order to accept the award, you’ll have to do the following:
- Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, and link my website in your acceptance post.
- Answer the 11 questions I have created for you:
- Why do you travel? What gave you the travel bug?
- Do you have a bucket list? If so, what is at the top of it and why?
- What does the term “accessible” mean to you?
- What specific post on your blog are you most proud of?
- What is your favorite way to travel, and why? (airplane, train, boat, car, etc.)
- What has been your favorite destination or trip thus far?
- What is the biggest challenge you have faced while traveling? How did you overcome it?
- There are millions of travel blogs – what sets yours apart?
- What is your biggest travel regret?
- Favorite continent? Country? City? (Bonus points for a non-linear answer set!)
- Three (key)words to describe your travel style. 😉 (i.e. budget, luxury, immersion, cautious, adventurous, etc.)
- Name 11 nominees, and create 11 questions of your own. Then, celebrate!
To my readers: I’d love to read your answers to some of the 33 questions above, and I hope to learn a little more about you!
Thanks again to Michaela and Melissa for nominating my blog for this neat award! I had a fun time answering their questions.