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“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”~Saint Augustine
If you ask people about what they love to do or what they would love to do, travel often is on the list. However, when you cannot see well or see at all, travel is a different experience, as so much of the joy of travel is visual. Therefore, as people with visual impairments, we have to have more experiences that include all of our senses. I think even those who can see could have more rich experiences if they too found the pleasure of appreciating travel through all of the senses.
This year the Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Podcast has been focused on the senses… so if you have not listened to the podcast yet… go ahead… you will love it… and learn to use and appreciate your senses even more!
Recently I took a fabulous vacation… which took me to 3 continents, 4 countries, 4 Carribbean Islands, and across the Atlantic Ocean. I know there were many magical sights, but there were also many wonderful sounds, smells, tactile/touch, and of course tastes as well. Yes, I felt some sadness about missing some of the “sights”, but I tried to take everything I could out of the other sense experiences.
Taste and see
Every region has its foods and drinks. A willingness to try new and sometimes exotic foods, can be quite enjoyable. In my travels I tried rum from a distillery in Martinique, ate many flavors of gelato in Italy, and tried many other foods along the way. I make it a rule to never eat at a chain restaurant when travelling…. Always try the local places!
Listen to the music around you
In my travels I heard the music of many new birds, the sound of the wind blowing and waves crashing, the ringing of the bells from the many Italian bell towers, and the languages of many people from across the world. Be present and listen. Learn about the birds of regions you are traveling to, learn some of the words of foreign languages you will encounter, listen to the unique sounds of a new areas.
What can you learn? What memories do they evoke? What is similar to your area? Also, always ask if audio description is available, or ask the tour guide to provide more descriptive information than they might regularly provide, and of course, provide your travelling companion some guidelines on providing some audio description.
Smell the perfumes of your travels
Stop and smell the roses! In my travels I experienced the wonderful smells of breads and sweet treats baking, eucalyptus and jasmine growing, coffee brewing, and fresh ocean air. Explore the flowers and plants of regions you are traveling to, the native birds, the foods (especially in local bakeries), and stop and just smell nature. There are wonderful surprises all around.
Touch the world
As people who cannot see, we are often a bit fearful about reaching out and touching what is around us…. But we need to realize that the only way to experience some things is to touch. Ask if you can touch an exhibit, architecture, the flowers/plants, etc.
“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, but are felt with the heart.”~Helen Keller
Travel can be wonderful and magical…. So do not hesitate to get out there and experience the world, just be ready to use your senses to enjoy the things around you… and you will have a sense-sational time!
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Connecting With Sylvia:
Sylvia Stinson-Perez is an experienced and well-recognized and regarded professional in the blindness field. She has served as the Executive Director/CEO of a non-profit agency, as the project director for major federal grants at a university, and as senior leader at a national blindness organization.
Sylvia has also been actively involved in local, state, and national boards and advocacy groups. As a person with lived experience, she has dedicated her career to making a positive impact in the lives of others who are blind and low vision. When not engaged in work or volunteer activities, Sylvia enjoys travelling, crocheting, reading, and cooking.
- Stern of a white cruise ship from above in turquoise waters.
- The Rio Carnival, a feast for all the senses. Beautiful samba dancers performing at the carnival.
- Bell tower and cathedral in Massa Marittima Tuscany surrounded with blue sky and white puffy clouds.
- Sylvia is wearing a blue dress with a lighthouse behind her as the sun goes down.