Lonely Planet Writer

Meet Cory Lee, the man inspiring travellers who use wheelchairs to see the world

Cory Lee from Georgia in the USA, is showing the world that anything is possible by travelling to some of the world’s most exotic locations with his wheelchair. The 26-year-old caught the travel bug from an early age, taking his first international trip to the Bahamas when he was just 15 years old. Since then Cory, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of two, has travelled to over 19 countries across 5 continents.

Cory on safari in South Africa
Cory on safari in South Africa.   Image by: Courtesy of Cory

Not wanting to let his disability ever stop him from pursuing his dreams, Cory wrote out a bucket list of all the places he wanted to visit and things he hoped to do.“I compiled my original bucket list back in 2013, but I’m constantly adding new things to it. I’ve been fortunate to check off quite a few items, like seeing a show inside the Sydney Opera House, swimming in The Blue Lagoon in Iceland, riding a hot air balloon, and most recently, going on an African safari.”

Cory on a hot air balloon in Israel.
Cory on a hot air balloon in Israel. Image by Courtesy of Cory

Cory says his ultimate bucket list item involves visiting all 7 continents. He has been to 5 so far, and following a trip to Ecuador in January 2017 he will only have Antarctica left to visit! “That’ll be a difficult one for me to accomplish” he says, “but I’m certain that it will happen somehow eventually.”

Exploring Finland in the snow.
Exploring Finland in the snow.

In December 2013, Cory started a travel blog called Curb Free With Cory Lee, to document his adventures and to help and inform others of wheelchair-friendly travel destinations around the world.“To be honest, I started it because of a lack of information out there on the internet. Whenever I would try to plan trips, I could hardly ever find accessibility details or reviews. I thought that if I could share my travel experiences online, then hopefully it’d make planning trips easier for other wheelchair users in the future.”

Cory at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
Cory at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

The biggest struggle for Cory as a wheelchair user is flying. He says it’s the part he always dreads the most as he worries about his chair getting damaged when it’s stowed in the cargo hold.
“Getting to the restroom on the plane as a wheelchair user is also next to impossible for me, so I have to factor in that as well. My biggest wish would be for wheelchair users to be able to remain in their own wheelchair during flights. Hopefully one day this will become reality.”

On the beach in Florida.
On the beach in Florida.

“Many people have this preconceived idea that wheelchair users just sit at home and do nothing all day, but I want to show that I can do just as much as anyone else, if not more!”