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Lessons learnt travelling with a visual impairment: part two

In the second part of her blog post on travelling with a visual impairment, Zein shares the benefits of travelling with friends, the need to be adaptable and why sometimes unexpected adventures are the best!

The best adventures happen with the right people around you

The best adventures occur when you travel with the best of friends; people in your life who are not only your friends but are also your support group. They are the people you can lean on who support you, travel with you, stick like glue through thick and thin, those you laugh with and bring you joy in life. I thought that by moving to Glasgow during a pandemic making friends would become harder but, it is those friends that I have made here who have made Glasgow more enjoyable.

Someone once said, “As with any journey, who you travel with is more important than the destination”. My trips would not have been enjoyable if it were not for those genuine friends who have accompanied me. We have made memories together and they are the sole reason that I’ve had the chance to travel to such beautiful places around Scotland. I would not have gotten the opportunity to travel and see Glencoe and Falls of Falloch or even Pitlochry if I did not have my friends joining me. Being visually impaired restricts you from travelling on your own. I used to be put off from going on trips with people because I would either feel uncomfortable or assume that they did not want the responsibility of having me along. It is because I have found “my people”, my friends, who I cherish, that I am able to go on such adventures. So, if I were you, I would find “your people”, and enjoy the journey because that is worth more than reaching any destination.

Adaptation is key

One of the key lessons I learnt while travelling around Scotland is that adaptation is key. Adapting to the people, culture and environments around you gives you (a person with a disability) the opportunity to enjoy your outings. With gloomy weather, especially during the winter, it takes longer for my eyes to adapt to the light around the environment I am in hence, I have to use my eyes more, which can sometimes strain them. This happened during one of the trips I took to Stirling to see the castle and monument. Adapting to differently lit places can be difficult but, sometimes we have to find ways to do so to enjoy places such as cinemas, theatres, museums and, in this case, castles. I was excited to go see Stirling Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots lived and decided to explore one of the exhibitions that was part of the tour. However, in order to conserve the exhibition, it was dimly lit, hence not accessible to visit for someone with a visual impairment. I felt anxious and a little claustrophobic but, thanks to the lovely staff working on the castle grounds I was able to adapt and enjoy the exhibition. They explained what was around me and told me what each room in the exhibition was showing such as the private rooms of Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as the exhibition showcasing all the history that took place within the castle walls.

Zee using her white cane to cross a cobbled bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

Picture description: Zein crossing a cobbled bridge using her white cane. She is walking away from the camera.

Another example of a time I had to adapt while travelling was when I visited Falls of Falloch with my friends. The area around the waterfall is magnificent but, not that accessible to use my cane and so I had to find an easier way to move around. I basically decided to hold onto my mom who had tagged along and follow in her footsteps. This meant that I would look at the ground where she stepped and mirror her actions. This took time to get used to as I had to focus on the sound of crushed mud instead of the battle cries of water falling. This made my adventure more enjoyable as I was able to witness the waterfall from all angles.

Expect the unexpected

Jonathan Scott said, “Sometimes life takes you on unexpected paths, and those paths aren’t always in the same direction”. Always keep in mind that if you set a plan for a trip that plan could be thrown out the window at any time. You need to be prepared for the unexpected. I recently set out on a trip with my friends to the Isle of Arran. We planned to be there for the day and then head back. We never expected that all ferries were going to be cancelled and that we would be stuck on the isle until evening. Being in a new place makes me anxious but, by staying longer on the island I got to meet a guide dog named Nora and her owner. That was the highlight of my trip. Not being stuck on the island but, meeting Nora and learning that things will happen if they are meant to happen. If we had not stayed longer on the island I would not have met Nora and learned more about what to expect when training with a guide dog. I have learned that the best adventures in life are those that are unexpected.

Zee looking out over the sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture description: Zein standing with her back to the camera looking out over the sea on Arran. She has her white cane with her.

Image of Natasha Johnston
Written by: Natasha Johnston

Posted on the: October 21, 2021
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