Making Travel More Accessible with 430k Followers… and Down Syndrome

Today’s social media influencers are beginning to reflect the real face of travelers. Meet Houston Vandergriff, travel photographer and influencer with Down syndrome… and 430k followers on TikTok.

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We are all familiar with the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. For 24-year-old Houston Vandergriff, travel photographer and influencer with Down syndrome, this couldn’t be more true: Vandergriff has been communicating through imagery from infancy. Now, he uses his camera to tell an optimistic and triumphant story of living–and traveling–with a disability.

With 430k followers on TikTok, Vandergriff shows us the lines between advocacy and artistry are blurring. This award-winning, globe-trotting travel photographer inspires people wherever he goes with his playful attitude and generous heart. Vandergriff’s Downs & Towns donates a percentage of photography proceeds to an assortment of nonprofits that support creative communities and causes for people with disabilities. 
Arival 360 | SAN DIEGO 2024

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“Technology is enabling a lot of barriers to be broken down is what we’re seeing. The world is getting much smaller,” shares Katie Vandergriff, Houston’s mother. With social media, diversity and disability can no longer be swept under the rug. The Vandergriff family is dedicated to making life with down syndrome mainstream and fun, as most people have someone in their life with a disability or have a disability themselves. 

Others leading the charge for accessible travel include Curb Free With Cory Lee, a travel blogger and influencer who has traversed all seven continents by wheelchair, “sharing the world from a wheelchair user’s perspective.” 

As experience operators begin to wake up to this reality, collaborating more inclusively will become essential. With the rise of influencers, relatability is becoming an important consideration. We saw this with Celebrity Cruises’ All Inclusive Photo Project earlier this year. With one billion people (or 15% of the world’s population) experiencing some form of disability, empathetic marketing and imagery are imperative.

Houston Vandergriff will be on scene at Arival 360 | Las Vegas. Photo credit: Houston Vandergriff

Join us at Arival 360 | Last Vegas where Houston Vandergriff will be on-site as a roving photographer available for headshots. He is also available for hire for those experience operators in need of high-quality photography. Visit his website to learn more. 

Header photo credit: Houston Vandergriff


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