Blind travel is somewhat slower, and sometimes leaves Tim out of doing certain things, but it doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy and appreciate the places we go and the people we meet. And it hasn’t kept him from kayaking, river rafting and climbing temples, or exploring ancient libraries and walking with orangutans. Sometimes we just need a little extra help from our guides.
Tim is legally blind and has a white cane, partly the result of a brain tumor that was removed in 2004, and partly from having been a Type 1 diabetic since he was 18 months old. Both of his eyes see differently. Sometimes this lets him put the two images together for a decent sense of what he’s seeing. Sometimes this means he can’t see for crap.
He’s had numerous procedures on his eyes by some excellent doctors. He’s had both retinas reattached, both corneas replaced, and a variety of laser treatments and direct medicine application. Tim’s eye-drop regimen each morning and night makes a big difference. At this point, it’s a matter of slowing the decline.
Part of our reason for going on this trip now is so he can see as much as possible before he loses his sight even more, or entirely. We’ve cashed in a good portion of our savings to accomplish this early-semi-retirement-travel-the-world plan. As his eyesight declines, it’s definitely better to do this now, than later.
Tim and I have been working as a team dealing with his vision issues since 2004. Travel still presents challenges that we have to come up with new systems for. We have a shorthand language that helps me describe the terrain for him as we walk and we’re adding to it all the time.
Lots of the places we visit have bad paving or crazy amounts of uneven stairs. The only answer is to take it slow, at a pace that works for him. There have been occasions where I’ve gone ahead and left him in the hands of a guide because there’s a time factor, and he doesn’t want me to miss out. This is rare, but I appreciate the freedom it gives me. Anyone traveling with a companion will have to find the balance that works for them.
We hope our posts here will help others with low-, or no-, vision learn about different locations and help decide whether a destination is a good choice for them. We also hope it will inspire you to know that blind travel isn’t impossible. There’s always a lot to experience, no matter how much you can ‘see’. If you have the itch to travel, don’t let low vision stop you.