Tips for Traveling While Visually Impaired

Wing and engine of an airplane with another white and blue airplane in the background

Dr. Paul Peterson, board member with Society for the Blind, has had vision challenges for most of his life, but he has not let his vision stop him from traveling. Here are some of his tips for traveling with vision impairment:

 

  • Bring a magnifying device to read the gate number on your boarding pass if you’re traveling by yourself. You can also audio record the flight number on your phone or write it in bold and keep it in your pocket.
  • If you have some vision, place bright yellow tape on your suitcase, so you can spot it among the other luggage at baggage claim. No vision? No problem. You can purchase specific electronic devices for your luggage so you can click a button and it beeps.
  • If you enjoy learning about the people, history, food and culture of where you are visiting, sign up for a guided tour so you can hear the details.
  • Use a cane when traveling abroad. Steps are often unmarked without handrails, and there is no line of demarcation or contrast. The cane also helps with uneven terrain like cobblestone or steps of differing heights.

Greg DeWall is one of our Orientation and Mobility Instructors, and also is visually impaired. Here are some of his helpful hints for planning ahead:

 

  • If your destination is a hotel or resort, find out if there’s a pickup shuttle. If not, find out which ground transportation companies service the airport.
  • Uber and Lyft have become outstanding ways to explore cities and make traveling around town more accessible. Just keep in mind Uber and Lyft are still not available in every airport.
  • When booking lodging, keep in mind proximity to where you want to go during the day. Sometimes the cheapest hotel is not the most convenient and will add to overall cost of travel.
  • You will likely be offered assistance often, so use these offers to confirm or correct your orientation, whether your destination is the restaurant in the hotel, bathroom in the airport or the castle at Disney World.
  • Many smart phone apps such as Yelp, iMove, Apple Maps, Google Maps and Blind Square are great for making your way around a new city.
  • Show your appreciation by tipping, from the bellhop to the skycap. They will be more eager to help you and the next visually impaired traveler.