11 Tips for Travelling with a Child with a Vision Impairment or Blindness
Tips for travelling with a child who is vision impaired or blind

Tanya Savva has has made it her mission to ensure her daughter Kenzie was not defined by her vision impairment. After travelling 14,000kms together, Tanya has some great  tips to share on travelling with a child with blindness or vision impairment.

Here are 11 tips to help you prepare for travelling with a child with a vision impairment or blindness

  1. Take your child on a tour of the room/accommodation you’re staying in as soon as you arrive (whether it’s a caravan, tent or resort). It offers your child a sense of ownership in the space and freedom to explore their home away from home.
  2. Tour the outer environment with your child. A tour and verbal directions from your room to the bathrooms, playground, pool, crèche and other important spots of interest within the grounds as soon as possible is important. (Although Kenzie doesn’t explore on her own it was important for her to create her own understanding and sense of direction within the space.)
  3. Have an activity your child can play independently while you set up and unpack when you arrive. I love to get that done as soon as we check in. (As a solo mumma I didn’t have a helping hand, so Kenzie had to entertain herself in that time. It’s part of our routine whenever we travel – arrive, set up, indoor tour, explore.)
  4. Research locations that are close to walking paths, shops, swimming spots and parks. (Kenzie can’t walk very far so we valued a bike path, walking path, park, and shops close by that we could access without needing to take the car out, which also encouraged physical activity.)
  5. Take your child into the reception to meet and greet the staff upon arrival to allow them to feel connected to the people in their new environment. (This gave Kenzie an opportunity to meet and mingle with new people (an opportunity for developing social skills) and to feel connected in a new space. It also alerts staff to you being a traveller with a child with additional needs so they know to offer assistance if needed.)
  6. Research local attractions that match your child’s interests. And if they don’t have any, explore lots of different attractions until you find something they love. Most towns have libraries (that run groups such as reading and music time), museums, parks, swimming spots, accessible nature walks, local pools, adventure areas, animal sanctuaries, bike hire, kayak hire etc. Try them all. (Kenzie was motivated to bush walk in search of echoes! The best one we found is at the Carlo Sandblow in Rainbow Beach.)
  7. Involve your child in the planning of your trip. (Kenzie loves asking Siri what the weather will be like, what attractions are close by, where the nearest park is, and even asking for directions how to get there.)
  8. If routine is important, once you’ve found some activities of interest, schedule your time away. This gives your child a holiday routine to follow. (Kenzie likes to know the how, what, where, when and why of everything. So we create a plan, Kenzie sets a reminder for each day, and she’s alerted each morning to the planned activities.  This way she feels involved in the day’s activities. We maintain flexibility depending on our energy levels and the weather!)
  9. If caravanning/camping, always set up the environment in exactly the same way. This helps to avoid confusion and ensures your child is able to safely roam around the immediate environment without tripping or running in to the things that weren’t there last time. Keep familiar things in familiar places (such as favourite toys, hat, cane, drink bottle).
  10. For the tech savvy check ahead for Wi-Fi connection. Siri offered Kenzie a good tool for checking out local attractions and learning about the local area so she could be involved. As a travel blogger it was necessary, and as a solo traveller it was part of our safety plan. But at times, it was also really nice to disconnect.
  11. Don’t be defined by your challenges. Use them to drive you into change by facing them head on and enjoy the road less travelled. The world is full of remarkable people that are so willing to encourage, uplift and support you when you make a brave decision and you do everything in your power to see it through. Kenzie is not my excuse for why I can’t. She is my reason for why I should. Be ballsy and brave. The world needs you to follow your dreams.

Thanks to Tanya for sharing her travel tips. Tanya Savva is a blogger, author, wellness & life coach and yoga & meditation teacher. Tanya is also mother to Kenzie who is blind, developmentally delayed and autistic.  Tanya shares more tips at The Road Unseen.

Read here if you would like to know more about tips for travelling with a child with a cochlear implant.

About Author

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Tanya Savva
Thanks to Tanya for sharing her travel tips. Tanya Savva is a blogger, author, wellness & life coach and yoga & meditation teacher. Tanya is also mother to Kenzie who is blind, developmentally delayed and autistic. When Tanya’s daughter was 6 weeks old she was told she might never see, walk, talk or survive without medications. Tanya was determined to prove the doctors wrong and give her every opportunity to live a full and joyous life, despite their prognosis. Tanya says, “I made it my mission to ensure Kenzie was not defined by her diagnosis of Septo Optic Dysplasia Panhypopituatarism and Optic Nerve Hypoplasia www.theroadunsee.com/the-diagnosis I promised her I would do everything in my power to guide and support her and took on a ‘let’s do this’ attitude. As an Occupational Therapist, I was well equipped with the knowledge and understanding that I could change the doctor’s uncertainty about her outcomes. When I became a single mum on my baby’s first birthday, I had to dig deep within to find the strength to fight for her on my own. Blind, developmentally delayed, autistic, and reliant on medications to survive, Kenzie is not defined by her challenges. Rather, she shines through them. Her wobbly swagger, quirky idiosyncrasies, unbridled laughter, flappy, happy self is a testament to her own strength of will and character. However, through my innate drive to support her to live her best life, I burnt out. I was exhausted. I was sick of the mundane routine we were stuck in, and I needed to get away. I needed to reconnect with myself. I needed to reconnect with my daughter. And I wanted to show her that she has the ability to do anything her heart desires. As a special needs mumma, a lot of my life decisions and actions are dictated by her needs. Despite her blindness, she led me down this beautiful path to freedom. She showed me the way to exploration. She guided me to deep connection with this rugged coastline and allowed me to find the light in the dark. In a ballsy move, I pulled Kenzie out of school, bought a caravan, started a blog www.theroadunseen.com and we hit the road on an epic, life changing 6-month journey following the sunrise over the ocean travelling up the east coast of Australia. Spending 24-hours a day with my little lady allowed me to learn so much about her and about myself. I realised that we are only restricted by our own self-limiting beliefs. I can, in fact back up and perfectly park a caravan on my own! I was reminded how important it is to get dirty, to watch the night sky, to follow the tide out, and speak to strangers. That everything we need to know we can learn by being in nature. We danced unapologetically to the sound of the birds at dusk in Burleigh Heads. We were energised by the gusty winds in Bowen. The lengthy echoes over the sandy dunes at Rainbow Beach excited us. The icy waters of the Mosman Gorge wakened us. And we became connected and free.”