Welcoming 2014, the year of our adventure

Hi everyone, welcome to 2014, hope you've all rested and recuperated after a very happy Christmas and New Year? We've had a quiet time with friends and family, raising a glass or two to our health and a safe journey on our SMAll adventure in the coming months.

Not long to go now! Have you seen our countdown on Facebook? Tick tick tick... 

Thought it was a good idea to write a new blog about all the little things that have been going on lately, now that the celebrations have past, we've realised we've still got lots to sort out! Sorry that the blog hasn't been as active as initially intended, if we're honest we didn't have too much to report (although we're very chatty on Facebook, come and join us?).

We also had a very difficult couple of months towards the end of the year. Getting used to driving the new van has been tough as I seem to have gotten a little weaker due to not driving for so many months prior to delivery. Not only that, the cold weather can make me very stiff and sore, which doesn't help my movement very much! I'm feeling much more confident now and am driving every other day to keep practising (its the terrible weather thats stopping me too!), with two long distance drives planned each month to 'train' for the trek around Europe.

Our poor dog too, has been through a rough time and thus causing us a great deal of stress and anxiety. She's my shadow, my best friend and a complete soppy soul, so you can understand the devastation when we found out that she had worn away her elbow joint aged only 5. With ups and downs, complications during surgeries, broken bones during recovery, more operations, predicted amputations and 3 months being confined to a cage at home, we can happily report that she's on the mend! However, it's taken a lot of our physical and mental energy to deal with all of this stress and of course the cost (!) that the trip's organising had to take a temporary back seat. We'd love for her to come on the adventure with us, but unfortunately having a dog with us will massively limit the hotels that we can stay at, and we were already limited with booking disabled rooms. Thankfully my parents are going to look after her for us whilst we're away.

Onwards and upwards!

Before Christmas we met with David Vooght, the CEO of GM Coachworks who built my new vehicle, and Mathew Smith his marketing manager. After getting far too distracted and excited discussing travelling around the globe and swapping stories, we spent some time discussing the trip and they very graciously offered to support us! We'll be having some sign writing on the vehicle during the trip (see if you can spot us if you're in Europe in May 2014!), and also there's hope that we'll get a tracking device, something similar to this, so that you'll be able to follow us from start to finish on our SMAll adventure! We're meeting with them again soon, and I can report back more then.

We've also joined up with the Jennifer Trust for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (I'll refer to it as JTSMA from now on) so that our SMAll adventure will be sponsoring their charity directly. You can donate online here, and these proceeds will be going directly to the charity themselves. Please do share and help us to promote the JTSMA, a charity close to my heart, who provided my family the support they needed when I was newly diagnosed.

I need a little help.. 
If I can pick your brains just a little bit, can any of you recommend a good disabled travel insurance company for me please? I know from previous holidays abroad that it is, understandably, a large amount of money, however it seems that companies vary so widely that it's very difficult for me to compare.

We're actually going for a multi trip policy as we're spending 10 beautifully sunny days in Spain with Davids family during August, so that does actually make it a bit cheaper for us. Some companies work on the basis of hospital admissions (of which I've had 0 in the past 5 years), and others categorise disabilities (SMA2 and Osteoporosis for me, 0 for David). 

I've had quotes from Fish Insurance who came through remarkably cheaply, but I worry that because it's only based on hospital admissions if they'd cover me if the worst should happen. Whereas All Clear Insurance gave us a more expensive but still reasonable price, with piece of mind in knowing they have details on my medical conditions.

If you have any information or suggestions that you could recommend, please get in touch!

We've also looked into the car insurance for travelling abroad, and because our trip is less than 90 days, Motability will cover all of the insurance and the breakdown cover through the RAC. We just need to fill in a VE103 form for travelling abroad. David and I are fully covered and I will just need to sort out temporary cover for the two PA's I'll take with me, which we will be responsible for paying for. I also need to look into insuring my mobile hoist abroad, and talking to my wheelchair insurers Lockton to discuss my cover abroad. So much to do!