Top 7 travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired

Going on holiday should be a relaxing and fun experience but being visually impaired can make it difficult and sometimes stressful. We've collected some top tips from our many travel loving service users and shared them with you below. Happy holidays!

Top 7 travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired image 1One key factor that will make your trip go more smoothly is planning your journey in advance. {Please note that the mention of any company here does not constitute a recommendation by Henshaws.}

(1) Travel companies – These different organisations offer information on accessible travelling in the UK and abroad.

  • Tourism for All UK is a national charity dedicated to making tourism welcoming to all.
  • Holidays for All is a consortium of voluntary organisations that offer quality holidays for people with various disabilities.
  • Traveleyes is an organisation based in Leeds that provides independent world travel for blind people.
  • Enable Holidays organise bespoke holiday packages and all accommodation in their brochure has been carefully assessed to ensure it is accessible and suitable for travellers with different mobility impairments.

(2) Research your accommodation Top 7 travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired image 2When researching accommodation for your holiday, make sure that it is accessible and read reviews on websites like TripAdvisor to check what experiences other travellers have had there before you book. When booking make sure you inform them of any accessibility issues you have and ask to stay in room that is easy to access. If your hotel has a concierge it would be a good idea to ask them questions about accessibility in the area and any recommendations they have as they tend to be the best source of knowledge.    

(3) Specialist hotels for blind and visually impaired people – A number of specialist hotels around the UK cater specifically for blind and partially sighted people. Vision Hotels is a small group of specialist hotels run by Action for Blind People. A ‘specialist’ hotel has staff specifically trained to offer support to people with sight loss. The hotels often have additional features such as:

  • colour contrasting surfaces
  • talking lifts
  • tactile signs
  • talking menus
  • useful products such as liquid level indicators and talking alarm clocks. 

(4) Travel assistance – There is now travel assistance available on most forms of transport. Always make sure you let you know your travel agent, tour operator or the travel company in advance if you need any extra assistance so that there is time to organise the support you need.

  • For airlines this is at least 48 hours Top 7 travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired image 3before you fly, and they can usually provide someone to meet you and guide you through check-in, baggage check and customs controls, plus giving you priority boarding.
  • For train travel they recommend that you book help 24 hours before you travel. Staff will meet you and ensure you get to your train and if there are any changes they will assist you right through to your destination. All you need to do is ring ahead and check the station provides assistance on your selected route. For more information about this service and how to book it go to: http://www.disability-onboard.co.uk/

(5) Travel discounts – There is a variety of travel discounts and fare reductions available to blind or visually impaired people, including:

  • Bus discount – if you are registered as blind or partially sighted, you can receive free or discounted travel on buses, to find out more contact your local council.
  • Disabled Person’s Railcard for registered blind and partially sighted travellers (third off, or two for one if travelling with a partner) or if you don’t have a Disabled Person’s Railcard you can get cheaper train fares for registered blind and partially sighted people by going to the National Rail website
  • Freedom Pass – free London Underground, Overground and bus travel pass for registered blind and partially sighted people living in London.
  • London Taxicard scheme for registered blind and partially sighted people living in London. 

(6) Travel insurance – Travel insurance is essential for going on holiday as it protects against so many things, such as flight delays and losing luggage, but what can be most important is the protection you have for medical expenses and other costs if you have an accident or are taken ill abroad. RNIB have partnered with Unique, who offer specialist travel insurance policies for people living with sight loss, as well as other pre-existing medical conditions and disabilities. For full details of the policy, including exactly what you will be covered for and to what amount, plus terms and conditions, call 0800 052 1311, alternatively you can email unique@ajg.com

Top 7 travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired image 4(7) Alternative formats – If you require alternative formats, such as braille and large print, ask for such printed matter well in advance as some companies need two months’ notice to print menus and other hand-outs.

We hope you found this blog useful, if you are interested in reading other blogs on the topic of travel, one of our regular bloggers Andrew Rose has written a series of blogs on how he uses public transport, to help people learn from his experiences and to provide education to the wider public.

If you would like support or guidance on using public transport or planning your trip then get in touch with our Enablement Team on 0161 872 1234.

Helen Jenkins
Helen Jenkins
Helen is Fundraising and Marketing Assistant at Henshaws and is responsible for promoting fundraising events and editing the Vision newsletter.
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