My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Travelling. Retinitis Pigmentosa.

I was asked to write in a little more detail about travelling blind. One of the questions I was asked was - You seem to enjoy going on 'sightseeing' vacations? How? Why? I understand the wonder ... you are walking through all these places that are wow - that is beautiful. Very visual. Indeed, I am experiencing and seeing beautiful in a different way.

I certainly have friends that happen to be blind that also love to travel. I also have friends that are blind that prefer not to travel. I don't think it is about blindness but more a personality, preference and affordability. Cricket and I would hop on a plane much more often if we could :)! I love new adventures, learning and exploring with my family. Over the years as I have lost my vision, I have learned to adapt to experiencing this adventure in different ways. I have also learned how much is still enjoyed without sight. I did not see the brown bears doing somersalts at the Moscow Circus, but I thoroughly enjoyed sitting next to Steve as he described the whole scenario to me. I was surrounded by people from our group that I enjoyed having conversations with and loved the laughter from the crowd as the clown teased and performed.
After the Circus in Moscow

Moscow Subway - rubbing the dogs nose for good luck (it is gold from everyone walking by and doing so)
So my personality is a love of travelling and adventure but over the years I have found some additional helpful things to make travelling enjoyable.  

1. I have some amazing tavelling partners.  Steve has become a natural as a sighted guide (infact, we were told recently we looked like we were dancing as we were navigating a busy area ... ah sweet, I  know :) and also at describing.  He is great to point out things I may like to know or have described.  I also am not real particular about knowing all the visual details.  I thoroughly enjoy the aspect of us enjoying being together whether it is nearby or across the world.  Cricket is a fabulous traveller and the two of us are always game for an adventure!  I also love girls' trips with Natalie.

2.  Generally, I try to keep it simple - clothing that goes with each other so I'm not sorting through each morning or having to ask what a certain shirt is, etc.  The last trip I wasn't too good on this one as the craziness beforehand led to some forgetfulness in packing.  It worked and forgetting makeup made the mornings nice and easy!

3.  Orientation and Organization I try to get a layout of the ship, the hotel, the resort as soon as possible.  I've also learned it takes a little while so I don't get too worried if I get lost a time or two before finding my way around.  If I'm with Cricket she is awesome to 'find the room' after a couple visits to it. Keeping items organized and in the same place is so helpful so each morning I'm not asking or searching.

4.  Exercising is grounding for me so we try to keep a routine wherever we go.  We find the gym, or a route outside to run or bike (oh so fun when we come upon a tandem bike rental) or walk.   Especially on a vacation like this past where so many new days were a new environment, a new hotel to learn, etc it is helpful to hop on that treadmill, hold on and run.  

5.  I just don't sweat the small stuff.  A cliche used often but I just relax and try not to get too stressed over feeling lost at times.  Breathe in and breathe out :).  I look at it as a privilege to be there, an adventure and smile and have fun.

There are not any travel plans at the moment, and I am hoping that changes soon :).   I love a new adventure that I experience in many ways the same as someone who can see ... relationally, touch, taste, sound, and smell.  I will always remember the musty, old smell of the Basil Church in Moscow and the beautiful music.  I will also always remember how I felt when we walked along the remaining portion of the Berlin Wall or giggling on the zipline in Jamaica (feeling a little relieved that I couldn't look down).
I would love to hear how someone else who is blind may feel about travel.  What are your tips?  Also, are there other questions someone reading might have?  This is fun to share :) -- thanks for listening!  

Marathon Journey:  8 miles this morning on Week 11 of the 18-week training.  I feel so grateful that even with my time-off due to heal from a concussion I have been fortunate to resume this goal. 


william Peace said...

I do not understand why others would fail to grasp why a blind person likes to travel. Is traveling not about the journey and experience?
Hate to be a downer but I would think given the fact 70% of blind people are unemployed this the primary reason many do not travel.

Becky said...

William - Indeed 'about the journey' and the $$ is indeed a challenge. I hope we see that % increase.

iffatali said...
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