Exploring the lived experience of leisure travelling for people with disabilities
van der Westhuizen, Yolanda
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Historically travelling was an option only for the affluent; however, with the turn of the 20th century, travelling shifted to an important form of free-choice learning by means of discovery. Travelogues of able-bodied travellers state that travelling offers them an opportunity for constructing new identities as it broadens their perspectives of self. This caused the researcher to question if the same experiences could be prompted amongst people with disabilities. Various disciplines recognise that travelling is a valuable opportunity for growth, but no literature could be found within Occupational Therapy. This led to the research question explored in this study: what is the shared, lived experience of travelling for people with disabilities? The objectives of this study are to describe and explore the purpose and overall experiences of travelling for people with disabilities, explore how people with disabilities perceive, understand and make sense of their experiences of travelling, and lastly to explore the meaning that travelling has for people with disabilities. The theoretical framework underpinning this study is the Peron-Environment-Occupation Model and the Model of Human Occupation, with specific reference to the philosophy of occupational science. Embedded in a philosophical worldview of social constructivism, a Hermeneutical Phenomenological design was chosen using a qualitative approach. Through purposive sampling, six participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was applied to analyse data subsequent to cross analysis, thereby developing a composite understanding of the meaning of travelling to the participants. The findings present three themes, namely: a Double edged sword which highlights the contradictory effects that travelling can have, followed by People are part of the package, which emphasises the participants’ interpretations of the immense role that society plays in disability, and lastly the most prominent theme Pilgrimage to self-discovery. Additionally, an Integrated Model was developed which integrates two prominent models within Occupational Therapy. Conclusively this study provides insight into how travelling facilitated the participants to develop a new identity.