Travelling with sight-loss or blindness
Sight loss shouldn’t prevent you from taking a trip and enjoying the holiday you’ve been yearning for. Although it does take a certain amount of forward planning to ensure that your trip runs smoothly, there are a number of truly rewarding holidays out there that are suitable for those who are blind and partially sighted, as well as several reputable companies that can help you plan one.
We’ve put together a useful guide to help you take that first step towards planning your trip. Whether it’s the warmth of the sun while you lounge by a pool that you’re craving, or immersing yourself in the buzz of a big city, with some careful planning, it’s possible to fulfil your travelling dreams and create memories you’ll cherish.
Who can help book your holiday?
Although travel agents will be able to provide advice and assistance when booking accessible accommodation or making your journey through an airport run as smoothly as possible, you might want to contact a specialist agency that specifically tailor their trips for those that are blind or partially sighted. This way, you can expect a holiday where every detail has been considered to ensure you get the most out of your experience.
Why not take a look at Seable, who offer holidays tailor-made for groups of blind and partially sighted travellers that include transportation, accessible accommodation, assistance with places to eat and drink as well as a variety of excursions and visits. Other agents, such as Traveleyes, plan trips by mixing groups of blind travellers with sighted travellers so that they can guide and describe sights as part of the package. You could sail the seas around Corfu, discovering the wildlife of Africa or hiking the Himalayas.
If you’re looking at taking a staycation and exploring the treasures that lie right in the UK, companies such as Visit Britain and Tourism for All UK can provide plenty of useful information and advice about accessible travel and experiences that will be best suited to your needs.
If you would prefer to arrange your trip independently, you might want to book a stay in a specialist hotel such as one of the Vision Hotels groups or one of those detailed in the Sightline Directory. Specialist hotels boast a range of modifications to meet the needs of those who are blind and partially sighted such as talking menus and lifts – guide dogs are generally welcomed, too.
Make arrangements well in advance
Under the Equality Act 2010, a hotel cannot refuse to serve you due to a disability and should make reasonable adjustments to assist you in your stay such as enlarging a menu or ensuring a member of staff reads it through. Airlines will need at least 48-hours’ notice to make arrangements for a guide to take you through security and ensure you have priority boarding whilst trains require at least 24-hours’ notice. However, when it comes to travel arrangements, we would advise calling much further in advance with a follow-up call the day before you travel just to double-check everything is ready.
There are a number of leisure and travel concessions you could be eligible for if you are blind or partially sighted – make sure you’re taking advantage! You could be entitled to a significant discount on public transport – the Disabled Persons Railcard offers at least a third off specific rail tickets, not just for you but for an adult travelling with you too whilst the Freedom Pass provides free journeys on the London Underground and Overground. Those registered as blind or partially sighted can even apply for a bus pass that offers free travel throughout the country or a Taxicard which offers subsidised journeys in London.
Once you’ve booked your holiday, don’t forget to make buying travel insurance a priority. It may not be as exciting a purchase as flights, accommodation, or excursions, but it is one of the most important elements on your holiday checklist. If you find searching for the best policy something of a challenge, let us help you with our simple comparison tool to help you locate the most appropriate cover for you.