They say travel changes people but has travel changed me? Each step brings fresh perceptions thereby creating new neural connections. This is a subconscious process and I cannot measure the change. Though, I am sure every place I visit, becomes a memory which will remain with me all my life, it hardly matters that I am blind!
I travel because it offers me change; a new reality to explore. I love traveling! One of the places I most enjoyed visiting was Iceland. I absolutely fell in love with the country- Unbeatable geology, super clean air and very friendly people. This was my first solo (sans family) holiday. And, there are much more I plan to take.
My travel bucket list includes Leh-Ladakh, the North East of India, The United States of America, Austria and Germany. However, a place I really want to go and experience is a live volcano. I want to descend to the lava lake. I want to experience the heat and the magma!
If I had to choose between traveling solo or in groups, I would prefer traveling with a group because there’s a certain excitement in meeting new people and participating in new sights, smells and sounds. However, much depends on why I travel. For instance, if I travel to see technology, I would prefer to be alone.
I do face several challenges while traveling because I am blind and have a partly formed left palm. When traveling internationally, one of the biggest challenges is dealing with paper currency. The next challenge is language. I need people with good language skills to convey what I need. This is because I am not adept at sign language and cannot point to things without a lot of advanced preparation. Challenges of navigating in unfamiliar surroundings, inaccessible signboards and a lack of accessible infrastructure remain.
Organization and planning are very important when it comes to traveling. I try to organize things to not face these problems, but it does get messy. Some of these issues can be mitigated when traveling with a group because my fellow travelers help.
The only travel advice I have for people with disabilities? Don’t let stereotypes affect you. Just go out and do it. Because there’s nothing like travel in the world.
Pranav Lal is a desk bound technology enthusiast and cyber security professional who is answering the call of the wild one trip at a time. He tweets at @pranavlal