Is this the world's most travelled Viper?
"The Viper has made a huge difference to the way we travel and where we decide to go. No longer are we restricted to destinations that are flat and well paved – ie wheelchair friendly. We can now go to the places we always wanted to explore, off the beaten track! VIPER, AIRPORTS & PLANES: I suppose the best place to start is with airports and planes. To keep it short, I have never had any trouble travelling by plane with my Viper, not once! After trying several different methods, my preferred one is to check in with the Viper attached and keep it attached until I get to the plane door. I remove it, transfer onto the aeroplane aisle seat and, if possible, re-attach the Viper and wheelchair so it goes in the hold together. I un-clip the electrical cables to the battery and have elastic bungys holding the battery securely in place, as well as the loose cables. On the occasions where I have checked in the Viper, I always made sure the battery was packed in my suitcase and the cables strapped up. More lately, I’ve also added the plastic cling-film that’s available at most airports now, just to give it extra padding. However, to help the handlers work out what it is, how it moves and how best to handle it, I keep the brake handles uncovered. Either way works well, as when we land my wheelchair and Viper are either together with the airport support staff, or the Viper is sent off with the luggage. When we collect it with our luggage, I attach the Viper and then take the battery out of the suitcase, and off we go – easy, simple and stress-free! My Viper has had some damage during travel, but it’s always been very minimal – more like excessive wear and tear as opposed to damage. The key is to protect the parts with padding so it can be removed and re-attached for the homeward journey. The important thing to remember is that airports, airlines, travel companies, staff and crew are all different and each have a different way of handling these situations. Always be friendly, polite and relaxed, ask for help and assistance, and they will all be helpful. If you decide to be stressed out, aggressive and rude, then you can only expect the same in return. In cases where check in staff have insisted I check the Viper in, I’ve told them that I’ve done it this way many times and never had any problems, and would prefer to keep the Viper and wheelchair together, as I’m worried it’ll get damaged or lost in transit. This nearly always works and all goes fine, but in the few cases where it hasn’t and I’ve had to check in the Viper with my luggage, I cooperated and complied, as I don’t expect special treatment. LISBON: On one of the first trips the Viper, we organised a short break to Lisbon – the city built on 7 hills! We took the Viper and went everywhere we wanted, which opened up our eyes to the new possibilities available to us, as we’re not interested in the normal touristic sunshine and beaches type of travellers. Everything went well on the flight and we got our Viper with the luggage, and off we went. We jumped into a normal taxi and put the Viper in the boot – a bit of a squeeze as we had luggage also, but this was only on arrival and departure. LONDON: We’ve spent many enjoyable breaks in London, thanks to the Viper! We’ve found little hotels not too far from an accessible Tube Station as the Viper works excellently on the London Underground. The lifts are large enough to drive straight in and reverse straight back out. I drive straight on to the trains and park in a spot that best accommodates the people around me – not always easy, but people do move! The Viper fits OK on London Buses too. There are so many accessible buses in London it’s easy to flag one down and jump on. Getting off is done backwards, but it works fine for us. We’ve caught trains to London, from London to Gatwick and so on, and never had any problems. Once on board, I either leave the Viper attached (for short journeys) or remove it (for longer journeys). PYRENEES: This mountain range that forms the border between Spain and France is amazing – but only made possible for us because of the Viper. We drove from the Mediterranean end at the eastern end of the Pyrenees to the Atlantic ocean in the west. We stopped off at historical villages and towns, exploring the cobbled back streets, weekly markets, lake side walks and so on. It was summer so the winter ski resorts had converted their business to mountain biking, white water rafting etc so our daughter had a great time whilst we did our usual bit of exploring the historical parts of the towns, nice lunches etc. We stopped at Lourdes, which has streets bustling with people moving around slowly, so having the Viper made life so much easier. We strolled around shops, traffic and people, and it was effortless. CAPE VERDE ISLANDS: After hearing so much about these new islands, in Jan 2007 we booked a 2 week holiday, but only because we had the Viper! Had it not been for the Viper, we’d not have even considered a holiday to an island that has just got on the tourist map. Facilities, roads, etc were exactly what we expected and combined with all the sand blown up from the beaches, we couldn't I’ve done without the Viper. Our hotel was about 2km from the local town so if I had to push my way along the cobbled and sandy road, the holiday would I’ve been more of a warm weather training camp, than a break. We enjoyed strolls into town, checked it out everything from one end to the other, explored markets, beaches etc. The Viper makes having a stroll just as simple and relaxing as before, no need for any great physical effort, no straining, just relax, switch off and enjoy the surroundings! THE ALGARVE: We rent a villa called Dama da Noite in a beautiful rural location, so we hire a car with hand controls also. The Viper comes with us and we drop the kids off at water slide parks, beaches etc and go off to explore different parts of the region. Each day there’s a different market on at different towns along the coast, and there’s so much history and culture to discover, from the old town in Faro to the castle fortress in Silves to Prince Henry The Navigator’s fortress in Sagres. FUTURE DESTINATIONS: We’ve been to Australia, but before we had the Viper. We’re thinking of going back some time soon and the Viper will be a major part of our trip as I know I’ll be able to go further than before, without all the hassle and physical effort. After all, holidays are supposed to be relaxing, not a "survival exercise"! South Africa is also on the cards, as well as new eastern European countries like Bulgaria, Croatia and Poland. We really want to take a cruise and check out all the different places they stop off at, and unless I had the Viper, I wouldn’t even consider it as we’d never get much further than the harbour on our own! Get the most out of your Viper and see how it can change your life and that of your family and friends, as it has done to me. The more we used it, the more we realised how much easier and enjoyable everything has become. I even enjoy going around the shops and shopping centres (well… not exactly “enjoy”, but it’s easy to switch off and relax, and carry the shopping for my girls!)" Dave.