Blind solo travel might feel scary for an unintiated traveller butBelieve me it is a cake walk. Here I share my learnings and experiences from my first solo travel after losing vision to retinitis pigmentosa.
This is a follow-up post to my earlier article
experiences of blind solo travellerI wrote that post before my first solo international travel. Now that I am back safe and sound, am writing this post to separate facts from fiction. Even before I go into the details let me tell you if you are thinking of travelling alone, go ahead. In fact Low vision or blind solo travel is easier than travelling with vision. Let me first share the actual experiences of the points that had me worried:
• How do I get from Airport gate to airline check-in counter?
o Thoughts before travel: I have taken the contact number of duty officer of the airline and am told that they will send someone to assist me.
o Actual experience: I noted the wrong number of duty officer and could not contact them before travel. Reached airport 3 hours before my flight. Security person at airport gate informed the airline and they sent an escort immediately. The assistance helped check-in all the luggage, took me through immigration and security checks and stayed with me right up to the time of boarding. And yes, one major thing, they do not insist you to take a wheel chair if you are comfortable walking. Simply hold the arm of your escort and you are good to go.
• What happens at Singapore Airport, how do I get from plane to waiting lounge?
o My preparation, have asked for assistance from the airline.
o Actual experience: Someone from ground staff is waiting for you as soon as you deplane. They take you to a special service lounge where you can wait comfortably for your next flight.
• How can I explore the airport as I will be there for approximately 6 hours? Or how do I do some duty free shopping?
o Its fairly simple, I requested the person assisting me that I wanted to buy some chocolates and perfumes and he helped me get them before going to the service lounge. He even helped me get the free wifi for my mobile. One suggestion, be clear what you want to purchase before hand so that you don’t waste their time.
o Once I was at service lounge I simply took out my cane, made a facetime video call to my friend and went out exploring the terminal. You can make use of free app Be My Eyes for this as well.
• How do I board the connecting flight if the airline assistance doesn’t show up on time? : Well the airport assistance does reach on time to help you board. In case you are still worried there is always a helpdesk to assist you with your queries.
• After reaching Australia how do I identify my baggage on the conveyer belt?
o Just show the escort your baggage slip and they will manage the rest. It helps if you can show them pictures of your luggage or have some distinct identifiers like a sticker or a ribbon on the handle.
• What if customs ask me to open the entire baggage, how do I pack it all again?
o Well that did not happen. But I am sure they would have helped me pack the things.
Finally I can assure you that blind solo travel is easy and secure. Just have an open mind, be polite to the staff and always carry your cane. IF you still have some doubts I will be happy to clarify them for you. Just leave a comment below.
Based on my experience I have put together a travelling checklist for low vision or blind solo travel. This will make your travel easy and worry free. You can grab your free copy of this checklist by simply registering here