My tips for travelling when blind or partially sighted

Post date: 
Wednesday, 16 November 2016
Leisure and travel concessions

Planning to travel or take a holiday when you're blind or partially sighted can seem daunting. In her vlog for RNIB, Kate Bosley talks about some of her best travel experiences and the biggest challenges she's faced. 

Get to know our guest travel blogger

Kate Bosley is a blogger who has written about a variety of travel related topics, including going abroad without a guide dog, the best accessible activities for people with sight loss, and overcoming transport issues such as crossing roads and public perception. 4 years ago, she lost a quarter of her field of vision when she suffered a head injury, and has been adjusting her love of travel to accomodate her sight condition ever since. She writes for ‘Limitless Travel’, an organisation which looks after and supports people who want to travel but have got disabilities of various sorts. 

"Hi, I’m Kate Bosley and I’m fifty-three years old, and I’ve got a sight condition. I’m a blogger for ‘Limitless Travel’, and ‘Limitless Travel’ is an organisation which looks after and supports people who want to travel but have got disabilities of various sorts. They help them by booking suitable hotels and transport and so on. My blog on ‘Limitless Travel’ is actually telling people about my guide dog, who I’ve had for 5 months, and it’s taken my some time to get used to her. Five months is a short amount of time, so we’re getting used to each other. She’s obviously got to get used to me as well. So the blog highlights some of our challenges and some of our successes of being together. 

My sight loss and how it affects my ability to travel

My sight problem was caused by a head injury which I had almost four years ago.  The head injury was very severe; I was ventilated for some time and unconscious for some time.  When I came round, it was realised that I’d got a sight defect.  My main problem is that I’ve lost a quarter of my visual field, so I actually see very normally in three quarters of what I look at.  And I’m completely blind in the bottom right hand corner, which in many ways is a very limited problem.  But of course, if something happens to be in the right hand corner, I don’t see it at all – not that I see it weakly or impaired.  I just don’t even see it or know that it’s there. 

I’ve quite often walked into things.  I’ve crossed roads where the car has been in the blind spot.  So it does have some issues and some problems. That’s why I’ve got a guide dog. The guide dog allows me to walk safely down the road and I don’t walk into anything on the right hand side. She’s made a very big difference to me. Clearly crossing the road is difficult and I have to move the blind spot and be 100% sure that it’s safe to cross. And obviously having a guide dog helps me slow down and do that properly.  She’s made a big difference to me. I think the other problem that I have is that people don’t understand what my sight problem is. So they can see that I can see them perfectly clearly if they happen to be on the left side, and not completely understand that I don’t see them weakly; I just don’t even know they’re there if they happen to be in my blind spot. And it is people’s attitudes to that and their understanding of that that I personally have found the most difficult thing.

Changing my approach to the things I enjoy

I loved cycling. I was a great cyclist and we went everywhere, and I have cycled in India and Cuba before my accident. So really it’s not very safe to cycle when you can only see three quarters of your visual field. If there happens to be something like a car in the quarter, cycling is very dangerous. And of course because you’re working at speed when you’re cycling, it  makes it even more difficult because I’m not using my head to move the blind spot about and see things. So cycling wasn’t a possibility for me. 

What we did quite early on was ride a tandem.  My husband rides the front, I ride the back, and we’ve been lots and lots of places with it and enjoyed it enormously.  We did the Alps last year, which actually was extremely difficult on a tandem because tandems don’t like going uphill. They very much like going downhill, and of course they’re a bit fast going downhill. 

So my tandem has been very important to me and helped me feel more normal again, and more back to the person that I used to be."

 

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Martyn's travel checklist for going on holiday when you have a disability

So you've been inspired, and now want to plan your own holiday. But where to start? 

Martyn is an avid traveller and explorer. He’s been everywhere from Australia to America. He is a Co Founder of Accessible Traveller, a bespoke service for disabled travellers. He's put together the ultimate free checklist to help you plan your holiday, which he's kindly shared with the Connect community.

Although Martyn is himself a wheelchair user, so a lot of his expertise is based around accomodating mobility situations, the checklist is still a fantastic tool to help anyone with special travel requirements or considerations to get organised.

As Martyn says, "why should travelling be much more stressful, just because you use a wheelchair, need a white cane or require sign language?"

Download the checklist here:Holiday Checklist accessible.docx (Word, 84.08 KB)

More holiday advice for blind and partially sighted people

From choosing a holiday, finding a tour operator for blind and partially sighted people, deciding on activities and budgeting for your great escape, we've got all the information you need. 

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