Travelling, staying overnight or going on holiday can be nerve-racking for most, especially when it’s supposed to be fun and relaxing when you do so. But for those who are blind or visually impaired, it can be even scarier. Especially when there are so many misconceptions about those who are blind or visually impaired.
Nowadays, there have been steps in the right direction to ensure those who are blind or visually impaired can start their holiday as they deserve. Many now offer alternative formats for menus, travel documents and even other hand-outs in either Braille or large print. If you do require this, many websites do recommend giving them as much notice as possible so they can ensure you receive these in a timely manner.
Luckily in the UK, there are many hotels which offer a specialist service for people who are blind or partially sighted. These can mean all the difference with colour contrasting surfaces, talking lifts, and talking menus to make your stay that bit more enjoyable, for example:
This hotel specialises in welcoming guests who are either blind, visually impaired and even deaf or hard of hearing. They’ve included a portable support system for the deaf and hard of hearing, while also offering a unique design to guide those visually impaired through the hotel using different flooring surfaces such as carpet and stone.
This south Devonshire hotel has seven gorgeous acres of gardens and sea view, but most of all it’s widely known as being a hotel which runs under the management of ‘Action for Blind People’. Because of this, it has become reputable as the place to stay for those blind or visually impaired.
Sometimes, where you’re planning to escape to, there won’t be a hotel. Still, recently in the UK, there have been cottages and homes opening themselves up to be rented with facilities for the visually impaired. Not only have these all been designed with this in mind, but have been tested out. Which are then later reviewed by visually impaired guests
Understandably, when we are travelling with family or friends, the above options aren’t available. But, if you are able to ring ahead and speak to someone from customer services, many hotels are more than happy to accommodate you and ensure you have as relaxing a time as possible.
Staying away somewhere can understandably be stressful, but the company below offers an elite service to try and minimise this as much as possible.
While most travel companies do mention they can be accommodating, providing print-outs and providing extra assistance, in the UK there are a specific number of organisations which have been set up for people with sight loss or who are visually impaired, for example TravelEyes, Holidays For All or Enable Holidays.
These organisations are making it their mission to ensure people with various disabilities get the holiday they deserve. Even if you feel they aren’t who you wish to travel with, they offer great advice and tips.
This one may seem easy, but if you don’t plan, there are small things which can be easily forgotten about. For example, not researching your accommodation and what support they can offer may make for a more stressful stay than you envisioned.
While, as we’ve mentioned, some hotels can offer more aid, it’s best to give them as much notice as possible to what you may require. This means, when you meet a staff member at the concierge, you don’t have to go through with explaining everything, and instead hit your relaxation time earlier.
When travelling abroad, travelling on a coach or even checking into a hotel, it’s easy for anyone's luggage to get mixed up with someone else's. This, usually, may not be a problem for most people, but when you’re blind or visually impaired, it can be a huge stress-headache you do not need.
Ensuring your luggage is easily identifiable, whether it means adding an additional tag or a brightly coloured bag, anything which can set your luggage apart from others. There are options of adding fabric tags on, giving you a different feel when you’re checking if it’s your bag. Not only does this make it easier for those aiding you to find, but for yourself too if you’re visually impaired.
When travelling abroad, or even in the UK, many forms of transport now offer travel assistance so you can reach your hotel with peace of mind. Whether that be with it speaking or offering someone to meet you to ensure you get through checking in or boarding as smoothly as possible.
When flying, if you ring two days in advance to either the travel agent, tour operator or travel company, they will usually be able to offer extra assistance. This can include someone meeting you to ensure you go through baggage check, customs and boarding with ease, starting your holiday on the right foot.
If you’re travelling by train, if you call either the station you are starting from or the train operator, they will have a staff member meet you to ensure you board quickly. They will also offer you up to date information on your travel, so you’re aware of any changes.
If you are registered blind or visually impaired, you may be able to receive discounts on a variety of travel discounts when you reach your stay.
This can range from bus discount with the local council to discounted London Underground pass. This can make all the difference, meaning you can spend the money you’ve saved on giving yourself a more enjoyable trip by treating yourself.
Something to consider when staying away from home is the local sights and museums. Often, these will offer advanced special tours for the blind or visually impaired, allowing you to soak up history with a bit of extra help. The Louvre and British Museum, as do others, offer these tours.
If you’re going on holiday, especially when travelling abroad, having insurance protects you for so many things. Whether it’s flight based or even medical expenses, it’s always worth ensuring you have up to date travel insurance.
However, there are specialist travel insurance companies for those who are blind or visually impaired, which means you’ll be additionally covered for this (without paying for it). Any other pre-existing conditions may also be taken into account. It’s worth pricing up various options, and the benefits they bring. You never want to be worrying about ‘what could be’ when you’re trying to soak up the sun.
While this entire blog is about the things out there for those who are blind or visually impaired, it’s important to remember it’s your choice what assistance you want to take. If you are much more comfortable asking others for help when and if you need it, you can decline the airports’ own assistance. All these hints and tips are for your information, the most important thing to remember is to do what will make you more comfortable, and more able to enjoy your break.