Okay, let’s go with a question to start this week’s blog entry. When you need to go somewhere that you’ve never visited before, how do you feel? Confident? Excited? Intrigued? Ah, are the answers more likely to be nervous? Unsure? Scared?
A mixture I would guess depending on experience and past travelling adventures. For many of us with no or little sight, the prospect of setting out on our first bus trip or train journey was possibly the scariest thing that we ever did. With sight, you at least have the ability to read bus numbers, destination boards, pick up landmark clues and read road signs. For us, it was always depending on learning how many train stops there were before ours, relying on the bus driver to tell us that we had the right bus and then for them to remember to tell us when we were at the right stop (quite often this never happened). Travelling could and can be a traumatic experience.
However, it need not be so bad. I remembered the first train journeys that I took on my own. Scary? I must have had a face like an extra in some horror film before taking on this first step to independence. When I had eventually achieved this though, the relief and the little spark of confidence that it gave me was just the lift that I needed to start venturing out further.
For parents of VI children, it must be a huge dilemma and worry in terms of encouraging their sons and daughters to go out and start travelling independently. The worry of whether they will reach their destination okay, as opposed to knowing that catching a bus, a train or walking to the local shops can give them a huge boost of choice and independence.
After my first train and bus journeys 30 years ago (should I’ve admitted my age?), I’ve managed to build up confidence to the level where I am happy to travel on all modes of transport and venture out without too much concern. How has this happened? Well, there is help and sources of assistance out there that can help in encouraging and enabling independent travel. Whether planning a train, bus, aeroplane or coach journey, I’ll explore the various sources of assistance available in the next two blog entries.
Experiences of travel are always welcome. If you’d like to share them or to ask questions or join in the discussion, visit our Facebook group by searching for VI talk. Join our channel on audio boo at VI Talk or join us on twitter by following @VITalkpodcast.