Rediscovering identity through leisure travel: Lived experiences of persons with disabilities

Yolanda Van Der Westhuizen, Dr. Lucia Hess-April, Professor Lisa Wegner


Introduction: Travelogues for non-disabled travellers state that travelling offers an opportunity for constructing new
identities. This meaning ascribed to travelling led the researcher to pose the question: What is the lived experience
of travelling for people with disabilities? The objectives of this study were to describe and explore the experiences
of travelling for people with disabilities, how they make sense of their experiences of travelling, and the meaning that
travelling holds for them. The theoretical framework for the study is the Person-Environment-Occupation Model and
the Model of Human Occupation.
Method: A qualitative, hermeneutical phenomenological research design was utilised. Through purposive sampling, six
participants were selected and then interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Interpretative phenomenological
analysis was applied to analyse data.
Results: Three themes emerged, namely: A Double-edged sword, which highlights the contradictory effects of travelling,
followed by People are part of the package, which emphasises the participants’ interpretations of the role that society
plays in disability, and lastly the Pilgrimage to self-discovery, as travelling offers the means to rediscovery of self.
Conclusion: The study provides insight into how travelling, as a leisure occupation, facilitated discovery of a new
identity for people with disabilities.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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