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
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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!)
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.