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Travel and Why Not?

By Lu Sobredo

WELCOME to LuTravelsAbroad Website!

What's new with me? TODAY I am exploring possible format/design for my LuTravelsAbroad website, for my Blog and Facebook page. Tickled to be launching a new venture. I have this incredible feeling of drive from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. A similar feeling that came over me when I finally realized I will travel abroad again. Travel while disabled, you might ask? Why not?

Mother & Son: Midnight in Paris, ©James Sobredo 2004

The Travel Blog and Facebook web presence is meant to be a self-help travel corner, and a vehicle for opening up about my personal health journey. When preparing for the 2016 travel, some websites and travel blogs were a great help. While in Spain as I focused on the moment and less and less on what discomfort to anticipate, I gradually experienced the thrill of traveling. It was then that I began to envision creating a one-stop self-help corner for people facing physical and other challenges similar to mine. The hope always is to nudge, inspire, and kindly remind many of us that our experience on earth is more than the sum of a job, obligation, sacrifice and routine. There is so much more to discover about ourselves and the world around us and abroad.

Thinking about the first topics to feature for my Blog as prompted by friends, made me smile The first topic suggested--TRAVEL: WHAT’S STOPPING YOU. If you are like me or some of my friends, we face different limitations, reasons and perhaps excuses why we don't travel or don't travel more often. A limitation might be in the form of a chronic illness. Mine is an autoimmune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). It is a chronic illness. It has been my constant companion for three years and counting. For others, limitations might be budget or lack thereof, time, knowledge of language and/or of the area that folks wish to visit. Or maybe, just an uncertainty of where to travel and how to plan for it. Whatever the reason maybe, the essay will delve into why folks think they're not ready to travel and offer practical antidotes for consideration.

The second topic is a more personal essay on TRAVEL ABROAD WITH MY SON AND DISABILITY. It is a reflection and insight on lessons learned from our 2016 summer in Spain and Portugal, my first extensive travel since the diagnosis of RA. This essay also gives me a platform to pause and find peace in the disease that is RA. I chose to feature a photo from 2004 (see above) by my husband, Dr. James Sobredo, a university professor with a passion for photography. Although, I have traveled with him before, this was the first time he introduced the family to the joys and challenges of travel to Europe. And our lives were enriched forever. It is a pleasant reminder of life before RA.

Travel changes us. A diagnosis changes us. For my family, unexpectedly our lives changed, and quite  dramatically when doctors discovered that I had been carrying around this chronic autoimmune disease, maybe for as long as five years prior to it manifesting during a 2013 travel with my husband in Asia. With a severely debilitating and life-changing diagnosis, I wondered with dread if I could ever travel again. 

Mother & Son: Prado Museum, Spain, © James Sobredo, 2016
My son's response when asked, what is it like to be a caregiver-on-the-go for his mom:

“I want you to travel. My role is to see that you’re safe.”Adrian Sobredo

Indeed the 2016 summer travel in Spain and Portugal was a symbolic victory of sorts over a disease that I am told is my lifetime companion. A local doctor in my hometown specializing in RA confirmed the diagnosis. During the consultation visit in August 5, 2013, he said that my disease will become progressively worse and I will be bedridden and crippled in no time. He further stressed that I would have to face the difficult reality that I will be spending thousands of dollars for medications and by the way, THERE IS NO CURE. Without establishing a baseline data for my RA, unabashedly allusive in answering questions from my husband and me, this RA specialist wanted to begin drug treatment that very visit. Shaken by the news, and holding back the tears and a wail bubbling in the pit of my stomach, I managed to say, "Please prepare your report for my primary physician so I can discuss with him the next best course of action." Exiting the doctor’s clinic was the best thing my family ever did for my first step to taking back my life with this disease. 

Thank you in advance to friends and family and extended community for reading and following my Blog. I draw so much inspiration from many of you. Some of you are my caregivers in person, both spiritually and socially. Others of you are meeting me for the first time through this blog site. I am excited to welcome one and all and invite you to join in this journey through your comments, recommendations and some as invited guest writers. I look forward to mindful, compassionate and respectful truth telling.

Watch for essays in the next few weeks that cover the gamut from traveling abroad with disability, delicious eats on a budget, to must-see cities in Europe, focusing on Spain and Portugal at first, and MORE. I can't wait to explore what's meaningful about travel and what's difficult. Most importantly, I will share practical ways of managing, even transcending those difficulties and finding joy. Travel? Why not?

©Lu Sobredo, Written August 24, 2016. Guest Editor: Victoria Santos.


  1. Lu, I look forward to your blog and personal insights. Your writing style is easily consumed. You are an inspiration to us in similar situations. May God Bless you my friend!

  2. Lu, I look forward to your blog and personal insights. Your writing style is easily consumed. You are an inspiration to us in similar situations. May God Bless you my friend!

    1. Hello my dear J'ena, How wonderful to hear from you. I was hoping you would take a peak at my site, as I know you could relate. Miss seeing you. Hope to connect sometime. Coffee sometime?
      Hugs! Best, Lu

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Mariane, I am so happy you read my blog. Thanks, cousin. Please, continue to follow both FB & Blog entries and invite others to do the same. Hugs to you and Zabby!

  4. Reading your blog and contemplating "Why not?" Why not, indeed. I have to say my greatest adventures, and most rewarding personally and spiritually, occurred after a severe injury that I have dealt with for 10 years.

    10 years ago, I had a bicycle accident, broke my ankle and dislocated my foot. Ended up with plate and screws in the fibula and screws in the tibula. A long somewhat frustrating recovery due to persistent pain.

    However, 9 months after that fall, I went on a significant trip--a month long retreat in Vietnam. We were at a beach resort much of the time, but a small group of us took time to visit Hoi An, ancient temples at My Son and the My Lai massacre memorial site, as well as a few days in Ho Chi Minh City. My ankle pain was not an obstacle in my decision to go. This had been a trip the group I was studying with looked forward to for some time, and it all came together. While in Hoi An, one night we got lost and had a long walk back to where we were staying. One person I traveled with just didn't realize how painful it was for me to walk a couple extra miles, after walking a lot during the day. I learned an important lesson in expressing and respecting some necessary boundaries for myself.

    A year later, I was on my way to Nepal and India for three weeks. Lots of walking, long flights of stairs to ancient temples and one night, trying to do Kora around Boudhanath Stupa-108 circumambulations (equivalent to walking 20 miles). The younger ones in my group were able to complete that; because it was only a week into our trip, I didn't want to blow out my ankle, so I made 33 circumambulations. A little over 6 miles. Totally respectable effort. In India, I made a few accommodations-taking the bus to get closer to one sacred site, instead of hiking the several mile uphill trail. We had some time to pass before the bus arrived. Having tea and watching Tibetan music videos with my Lama's sisters and the hotel proprietress, and being taken by my Lama's sister to a very special sacred cave at the lake's edge, guided by her and the elderly nun who is the caretaker of that sacred cave are among of my most treasured memories of that trip. All because I decided not to subject my ankle to the rigors of the trail up to Padmasambhava Cave.

    Last summer, I began preparing for another trip to India. I was having persistent issues with tendinitis and other pain. Received a lot of physical therapy. In the midst of that, I took a short trip to NYC to see a show I was excited to see. I came prepared with good shoes and ankle brace, had a marvelous time walking thru the Chelsea district over to the Highline and walking the full route of the park. Later, after the show, I walked with a couple other ladies attending the show to the after party in Times Square. Walked back to my hotel south of Madison Square Garden around 1:30am and had such a memorable and fun NYC excursion!

    In November, I was diagnosed with "end-stage" arthritis in my ankle due to the injury in 2006. I almost decided to bail on my India trip (3 weeks in Sikkim, leaving in December). After a lot of contemplation, and a series of.cortisone injections, I decided to go.

    With the help of patient travel partners and pacing myself, I was fine. A friend let me use his walking sticks on a steep and mossy trail to very special monastery. We got to see the interior of a temple that is never photographed; the paintings on the wall are over 300 yrs old.

    We did a lot of walking, up and down stairs, trails and the steep roads of Gangtok.

    These travels showed me that so much is accessible, and "able bodied" or "disabled", travel will reveal internal and external obstacles and opportunities, discoveries and delight in meeting yourself , your travel companions and the local folks you meet.

    The path can be bumpy and quite challenging, but so rewarding and revealing as well. So yes indeed, why not? What's stopping you?

    1. Dear Karen,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to write about your experience as a traveler after a major injury years ago, and a more recent serious diagnosis. The human spirit truly knows no bounds. And the experience takes on a different meaning when you've faced health challenges in the process. I am definitely taking your story and incorporating in my future blogs.

      I especially love your closing words: "These travels showed me that so much is accessible, and "able bodied" or "disabled", travel will reveal internal and external obstacles and opportunities, discoveries and delight in meeting yourself , your travel companions and the local folks you meet.

      The path can be bumpy and quite challenging, but so rewarding and revealing as well. So yes indeed, why not? What's stopping you?"

      Together, we can nudge folks off their couches, maybe some might consider traveling with a cane or any assistive device so they can see other beautiful parts of this world. Happy travels, my dear friend. Let's meet up somewhere abroad one of these days.

  5. What an inspiring blog! I'm so happy you are doing this. Having cared for my mother during her worsening disability, I became familiar with her hesitance and fear of traveling. Now that I am facing my own challenges, I realize the need for encouragement and reassurance that travel is not an impossibility. I'm looking forward to reading more insights from you!

  6. Dear Cathy,
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog site. So glad you found it inspiring. You will like my next article coming out in a few days: Travel Abroad with My Son and a Disability. Stay in touch and happy travels.

  7. Dear Lu, I'm so glad to read your blog and look forward to your next post. How beautiful and blessed to have a son travel with you and tell you that his role is to keep you safe. One of the hardest things for me with RA is setting limits and accepting/asking for help. Your blog reminds me there can be a happy medium between saying no and living life how we used to. The vision of you sitting on the rock smiling while your son went on a hike warms my heart. Thank you for being my fellow warrior sister in this process.

  8. Dear Karen H:
    Your comment is like a warm big hug. Thanks so much for your support and reassurance. What a privilege to have connected with you at first through FB, thanks to dear friend Prosy. And how kind it was for the Universe to put us on the same bus on our way to an amazing spiritual and intellectual experience in Vancouver, Canada.

    Here's a portion of the feedback I shared with Leny: "Special for me was meeting people who truly have a lot of gifts to share with us and the world as a whole. I found the key note messages and talks thought provoking, leaving me to think how they might apply to me. The experience with acknowledging the spirits of the ancestors is not new to me, but I was awed by how many others are believers. I could really see how people who have experienced trauma or forming/transforming their identity are being helped by the conference. As for me I am still processing the experience grateful that my hubby insisted I come along. My new project of writing a travel blog, that captures the process of my healing depicted in pictures and written words, is an important outlet and forum for me. I hope to integrate my conference experience as appropriate and will do so with respect."

    Karen, although there's no known cure for our RA. But there's the journey of spiritual healing and increasing functionality.

    I am comforted with healing the spirit and increasing functionality. Hugs to you.

    Your warrior sister/friend, Lu

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