Everybody needs a vacation from time to time. A change of air, a different environment, meeting new people or simply taking time for yourself can really lift your spirits. Having a visual deficit does not mean the end of all travel! It is very much possible to plan a trip as long as you put a little extra preparation for your travel arrangements, so here are some tips from NovaVision for this vacation season.
Before your trip
- Many train, air and coach companies will offer assistance for travelers if they know what the passenger requires in advance. If you are booking with a travel agency, it is important to inform them of any vision needs and try to be as specific about what you want before you travel.
- If your journey is of short duration, a long weekend or so, try packing light. If you can fit everything in to a small enough bag to carry on with you, then you won’t have to struggle to describe your luggage to a person who may not understand you due to language barriers. If you absolutely need a bag that must be checked in, mark it in a distinctive way. You could paste on a bright bumper sticker, tie a wide colorful ribbon or scarf through the handle, or purchase luggage that is an unusual color so that you will be able to easily identify it.
- Regardless of the destination, if public transportation will be your transportation of choice, familiarize yourself with maps, routes, and directions beforehand. There are some great apps out there that offer accessible GPS features.
- Many hotels, bed and breakfasts and guesthouses are happy to make adjustments for people with vision deficits.
During your trip
Below are some useful travel tips outlined by Sue Bramhall who has been traveling for many years with her visual impairment.
- Don’t be shy about asking for assistance. An airline or ship’s crew, hotel clerks, taxi and bus drivers – are always happy to help.
- When your flight is called, take advantage of the opportunity to pre-board. This gives you a few extra minutes to organize yourself in your seat; it also signals the cabin crew that, in an emergency, you would need extra help. Flight attendants will give you a personal safety briefing and make sure that you know where the emergency exits are.
- After you arrive at the hotel, even before unpacking, get acquainted with the concierge. He or she is there to advise and assist, and is a wonderful source of local knowledge.
- In the United States, a lifetime National Park Access Pass is available at no charge to legally blind U.S. citizens. These passes are available at all National Park offices; bring your documentation.
Resources to help you plan your next trip
Here we have outlined some useful links to help you plan your next trip and make all the necessary travel arrangements. This list does not imply NovaVision endorsement.
- Mind’s Eye Travel – An organization that creates tours for people who are blind or visually impaired.Website: http://www.mindseyetravel.com/
- Eye Sea Travel – They offer sighted-guided cruises and trips for people with visual disabilities.Website: http://www.eyeseatravel.ca/index.html
- Travel Eyes – Travelers can simply choose a holiday from their fully accessible website or audio brochure, then just book, and go! Traveleyes groups are a mixture of both visually impaired and sighted travelers.Website: http://traveleyes-international.com/
- Euro Bling Organization – If traveling abroad, this is a great resource for hotels, holiday centers and travel agents for the visually impaired in Europe.Website: http://www.euroblind.org/resources/useful-services/nr/367
Other helpful resources:
American Council of the Blind – They have put together a list of travel publications and agents that help people with disabilities including the blind or visually impaired
Air Travelers with Disabilities: Here are your rights –