My NMO Travel Blog Experience
Last updated: August 2023
I was working in management for a charity organization in 2014 when I had my first Neuromyelitis Optica attack. I haven’t been able to work conventionally since. That's due to pain, fatigue, and mobility problems, along with bladder and bowel issues. Throughout the years, I’ve tried volunteering. Sadly, I’m not a very reliable volunteer. I need regular time out for hospital stays and time to recover from relapses. There's also infections, and anything else NMO related that comes my way to consider.
Back in 2022, I was planning a trip to The Outer Hebrides in Scotland for my wife Kirsty’s birthday. I was having such a hard time finding things to do there due to a lack of accessibility information. I was making endless phone calls and getting frustrated with vague email responses. We decided we just had to go for it and see what it was like when we got there. That’s when we decided to film the experience and start a travel blog. I called it Wheely Braw. Since then, it’s grown and grown. I now travel all around Scotland with Kirsty and our 2 dogs, reviewing disabled access in tourist hot spots. Accommodation reviews form a big part of my work, too. I hope that the information I share will help take some of the stress out of holiday or vacation planning for others.
Working for myself
I finally took the plunge this year and became self-employed, with the support of Kirsty. Here in the UK this can be a challenge if you receive certain health related welfare benefits. After several conversations with advocacy organizations I realized it was possible. I can work as much or as little as I’m able to, and most of it is done from home (sometimes from bed!) when I’m writing up the blogs and editing videos. Of course, the trips themselves can be full on and exhausting. Kirsty really does take the brunt of the physical work and I’m just the smiling face for the camera.
I’m getting more confident with letting businesses I’m partnering with know my needs. The great thing is, I can schedule these trips around my hospital appointments. When someone books me to review their accommodation, I let them know that I have a relapsing health condition. I even wrote this into any signed contracts. So far, I’ve only had to postpone one job. The business was really understanding and eager to rebook.
Benefits of being a travel blogger
While I don’t make a lot of money, I’ve managed to treat myself and Kirsty to a few things like a record player we’ve had on our wish list for ages. The extra cash is a little buffer should any emergency expenses arise, too. But mostly, I’m just having a good time! We’ve traveled some fantastic places I just don’t think we’d have had the opportunity to go otherwise. I used to love working in the charity sector because I felt like my work was making a difference to someone else. It’s the same with the travel blog. I’m helping spread the word about amazing accessible places to visit, and that helps both the businesses I work with, and readers of the blog.
Have you thought about starting a blog? Your daily experiences could really help someone else, whether you’re exploring the topic of NMO itself, the places you visit, or another topic you’re really passionate about. And, who knows, one day it could become your career.
Has NMO impacted your ability to keep a job?