Holiday Travel Ideas and Tips for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

A suitcase

After working diligently all year, it’s quite refreshing to pause during the holiday season and enjoy a hard-earned vacation. Do you prefer the convenience of a cruise, the cost effectiveness of exploring a nearby city, or the enjoyment of visiting family? Whichever you prefer, review these holiday travel ideas and tips for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

  • If traveling solo or with other non-drivers, search for destinations that offer a variety of appealing experiences within walking distance, a phenomenal public transportation system, or affordable taxi rides.
  • If the idea of traveling with a group is attractive and not off-putting, browse tour group options, as transportation will be provided. Several tour group companies specialize in tours for persons who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Plan your general itinerary based on what will be the most meaningful to you and your accompanying family members or friends. In addition to popular landmarks, consider cultural experiences, local foods, enjoyable music, and new or exciting sights, sounds, and smells.
  • If you require or appreciate specific accessibility accommodations, such as sighted guide to a hotel room, verbal descriptions of sights on tours, or the opportunity to touch landmarks or artifacts usually off limits, consider asking for the accommodations in advance, such as at the time of booking.
  • 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.
  • While traveling in an unfamiliar city, you may want to carry a print map in the event you need to stop and ask for assistance. Having the contact information for the transportation service can also be quite useful for route information.
  • If you’re planning to travel by air, read through Airline Travel Information. Before You Fly: The Transportation Security Administration and People with Visual Impairments, an AFB AccessWorld article.
  • When it comes time to pack for your holiday adventure, read Packing for Holiday Travel, an AFB VisionAware article providing insight into selecting travel clothes, packing for a guide dog, and identifying luggage.
  • Think through all the technology you will need to pack with you, and subsequent chargers, considering checking your work email is not as easy as utilizing the cruise ship’s or city’s inaccessible internet café.
  • If you are visually impaired and do not always travel with a white cane, I’d suggest using your white cane for your holiday travel. You will have better protection in unfamiliar locations, better visibility when crossing streets, and you’ll be more easily forgiven when you accidentally bump into folks along the way. Plus, it is always a great idea to have a spare cane and cane tip with you on your travels.

The better prepared you are for your vacation, the more relaxing it will be. Prepare for and enjoy your break from work!