Wheelie Inspiring Interview Series: Srin Madipalli of Accomable

I’m not sure where or when I first met Srin Madipalli here on the interwebs, but it seems like I’ve known of him forever. He is a huge influence in the accessible travel community and is constantly coming up with new ideas to improve travel for those with disabilities. As a frequent jet-setter and wheelchair user, Srin has plenty of experience to share and I really enjoyed learning more about him in this interview.

srin madipalli accomable interview

 srin madipalli accomable interview

 

Please tell us about yourself and what you do.

I am the CEO and co-founder of Accomable, an app which helps disabled people find the best accessible hotels and adapted holiday rentals worldwide. I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy, love to travel, and used to be a lawyer before jacking it all in to retrain as a web developer and to start up my business.

srin madipalli accomable interview

What is Accomable and how is it helping disabled travelers?

Accomable is a hotel and accommodation booking platform that exclusively sells accessible hotel rooms and holiday rentals. We guarantee that all of our listings are accessible, and clearly state each property’s adaptations and specialist equipment, so disabled travelers don’t need to worry if there

srin madipalli accomable interview

srin madipalli accomable interview

Srin in San Francisco

 

How did your passion for adventure begin?

I’ve always loved to travel but my real passion for adventure started when I took six months off work to go travelling. I was lucky to be able to go SCUBA diving in Bali, wheelchair trekking in Yosemite and even on a safari in South Africa. I’m a real adrenaline junkie and it was amazing to be able to travel to so many countries and to have so many different experiences. Most recently, to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro, I flung myself up an escalator!

 

 

What is the most wheelchair friendly place you have been to?

I love Barcelona, which, for an old and beautiful European city, is incredibly wheelchair friendly. There are special walkways for wheelchairs at the beach, and beach wheelchairs you can borrow. Most of the major attractions are wheelchair accessible including Gaudi’s unmissable Sagrada Familia, and the majority of the public transport is accessible too. I always stay at MICs Sant Jordi, which offers fully adapted apartments, but there’s a range of accommodation on offer including the hip Barcelona Catedral Hotel, where we sent British Paralympian last year for a weekend break. Belgium is also great for accessibility, and beer tasting(!), which is what I did last time I was there.

srin madipalli accomable interview

 

What is the least accessible place you have visited?

When I was a child, I’d go to India with my family, and the infrastructure was not set up for disabled travellers at all. I think things have improved a little, particularly in the major tourist destinations if you stick with major hotels, but it isn’t easy sadly.

*For general travel advice on India, check out this blog.

 

srin madipalli accomable interview

Srin at Niagara Falls

 

What kind of problems have you came across while traveling in a wheelchair? How did you overcome them?

While travelling I arrived at accommodation that I was assured was accessible only to find there were steps leading into the main entrance! At the time, I had to spend a long time desperately trying to make other arrangements and then in dispute with the property owner trying to get my money back. It’s one of the reasons I set up Accomable – to avoid that happening to me or anyone else again.

srin madipalli accomable interview

What are some of the top items on your bucket list?

I’d love to go skiing in Whistler! I generally like to go to really hot countries (potentially something to do with living in London!) but I love any kind of activity that gives you an adrenaline rush.

 

srin madipalli accomable interview

Srin in Rome, Italy

 

Do you have any tips for other wheelchair users that might think traveling is not possible?

Lots of our customers are nervous about traveling either because they haven’t really been travelling before or they’ve been burnt by past experience. Our advice is to start slowly, maybe with a weekend break in a nearby city or countryside location that you can easily reach in your own car. I’d also say check out blogs like yours to get the inside scoop on how accessible different destinations are or check out Accomable community area to ask questions about specific destinations. Or you can visit our Travel Club on Facebook where there lots of fellow travellers eager to help and advise!

Travel is definitely possible, but I think they key to having an enjoyable trip doing your research on your destination before you go, so you can be confident your accommodation is accessible, and the sights and transport will be easy to access too. That way you can relax and enjoy your trip.

srin madipalli accomable interview

Most importantly, where to next?

I’m heading to Germany this May as part of a “Barrier-Free Tour” by the German National Tourism Board. The German Tourism Board are hosting a showcase of Bavaria and Nuremberg and it’s accessibility. I’ve always wanted to go to a traditional German Beer Hall so I’m very excited!

srin madipalli accomable interview

To keep up with Srin’s adventures, visit the Accomable website, Facebook page, or Twitter.

srin madipalli accomable interview

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1 Comment

  • cutenekko says:

    Great article. Lots of great tips here for not only wheelchair users, but also for some who may be traveling with older parents who need assistance, for example.

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