Memories of Summer: Traveling While Blind

I haven’t participated in #theprompt in many weeks, but this week’s prompt appealed to me. It is “memories of summer”. My husband and I are currently planning our vacation for this year, which will be in September, and we’ve run into some problems finding things to do that I actually enjoy.

When I still had some vision, I enjoyed camping out, although I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I remember. I liked going to the beach. My family used to go to Vlieland, one of the Dutch Wadden Islands. Up until I was around eight, I liked it there. I was in fact sad that, from my age nine on, we skipped a few years. That could just be my insistence on sameness though.

When we went back to Vlieland when I was twelve, I had a pretty horrible time and so did my family due to my almost daily meltdowns. I had pretty much lost my use of vision but still clung to what sight I did have. As a consequence, I was extremely dependent on my sister. We went back the next year and it was even worse. I think this may be one reason my parents stopped taking us on vacation after that year except for a trip to Berlin in 2002.

In 2000, I went to a summer camp in Russia organized by the Janusz Korczak Foundation. It was one big disaster. Formally, it was for both blind and sighted youth, but I was the only blind participant in the Dutch group. I was also the youngest Dutch participant at fourteen. I was pretty dependent. The other participants consequently treated me like a chore, and I reacted to it with frustration and tantrums. I liked some of the Russian staff, but the Dutch staff and participants saw me as a pain in the butt. Probably the only reason I applied to go to the same camp again the next year, was that I wanted to fit in somehow. The Dutch participants who had gone with me the previous year were consulted, in line with the Korczak philosophy of having children be judges over each other, and I was turned down.

In 2002, I discovered the International Camp on Communication and Computers (ICC), a computers and technology camp for blind students. I applied to go there and, even though I was honest about my experience in Russia, I was accepted. I went to England in 2002 and to Switzerland in 2003. Particularly my experience in 2002 was interesting and in a way it helped me accept my blindness, along with some other experiences I had that summer. Unfortunately, most such camps are for children and youth only.

I haven’t particularly enjoyed visiting cities. I went to Paris with my grandma in 2001 and, as I said, to Berlin with my family in 2002. While the experience in Paris was okay, I was often very frustrated in Berlin. This isn’t necessarily a blindness thing. I just didn’t like the unpredictability of not having a clue in the morning what we were going to do during the day. I also didn’t really like sightseeing, because, well, there’s just not much I can see.

This is a problem when planning my upcoming vacation. With my husband, I’ve been to Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerlnd so far. None of the experiences were particularly good, but they weren’t bad either. I liked going for walks in nature, but the surface couldn’t be too rough or I’d fall over. I liked trips where it was clear what we’d be doing, such as going on a train into the mountains. In the evenings, I was usually bored.

One of the positive things, hopefully, about the upcoming trip, is that I’ve decided I’m taking my computer. I’m not planning on staring at the screen all day, but at least this will hopefully cure some of the boredom I experienced during the evenings.

mumturnedmom

21 thoughts on “Memories of Summer: Traveling While Blind

  1. I am sorry about all your bad experiences. That wasn’t fair at all how they treated you at the camp! I really hope you managed to find a place that will be fun and enjoyable x

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  2. Really sorry to hear about your experiences especially when younger, but glad it improved when older. I hope you will enjoy your upcoming trip – and that the computer helps too.

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  3. Some things about holidays that we take for granted are not at all relevant for you, and that must be challenging. I do hope that you find a holiday that suits you, perhaps something that involves music or touch/creativity instead of sight seeing? I think taking your laptop is sensible – I do that 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing such an interesting perspective with this weeks #ThePrompt x

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  4. I had never thought about how challenging it must be to book a holiday when you’re vision is impaired. I really hope you find a great place and have an amazing time x

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  5. It sounds as though you’ve done a lot of traveling. You’ve been to lots of places. i like to travel a lot. I dont let my blindness hold me back either. Being blind though it is that much harder to take in sights and things. X

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