By Marissa Horanic
If you’re not visually impaired, you’d be quite surprised to find out just how inaccessible many aspects of the world are to those who are blind or low vision. Things perceived as incredibly mundane can actually prove to be difficult and even stressful because proper accommodations are rarely available. Since activities like grocery shopping and eating at local restaurants can pose an accessibility threat, then understandably, traveling may seem daunting. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips and tricks for traveling.
- Pack lightly.
This applies for fully-sighted travelers, too. If you can avoid multiple pieces of luggage, do so! This will limit the amount of stress you feel when searching for your baggage in the conveyor area. I mean, who needs all of those outfits anyways? We all usually end up wearing the same few for multiple days…
- Make your luggage stand out.
Whether this means covering your suitcase in puffy stickers, buying a brightly patterned suitcase, or tying huge bows on every handle and strap; making your luggage easily distinguishable is super important. This proves especially helpful if you need to ask for help in retrieving your luggage from a cluttered conveyor belt of similar pieces of luggage.
- Always carry your medical identification card and travel insurance card.
More often than not, you won’t need to use them, but we all know that unexpected events can happen. In the case of an accident or emergency, a disability will be easily apparent to a responder.
- Bring your cane (or other aid if you have one).
Yes, even if you don’t need it. Carrying a cane is a universal sign of blindness, and it will signal to others that you are blind or low vision. Like tip 3, this can aid in emergency situations for others to easily notice you’re disabled and provide assistance if needed. (Foldable canes are the way to go!)
- Check reviews before selecting your lodging.
Some locations are much more accessible than others, and that’s not always apparent when reading lodgings’ main websites. Read reviews and call in advance to ask about tactile signs, Braille menus, assistive technology, or any other accommodations you need. Also, booking lodging close to main attractions can be helpful. It may be pricier, but it makes up for transportation fees and the stress of navigating foreign transportation systems. Check reviews or add your own at www.vacayability.com.
- Plan your itinerary in advance and make sure to carry it with you.
Having all of your addresses and phone numbers in one place is very helpful for anybody! It will prove especially helpful if you end up lost or your driver makes a wrong turn.
- Search for and take advantage of guided tours.
If you’re visiting a new city, guided tours are a great way to learn about the history and culture of any place. If you can’t see the scenery, guided tours provide wonderful & interesting information that doesn’t require full vision.
- Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
Traveling isn’t always as perfect as we plan it. Flights delay, food and merchandise can be far more expensive than expected, your lodging may spring a leak, etc. Remember to go with the flow and always make the most of your trip!