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Traveling with Blindness or Low Vision

Long-distance travel or travel to new places can be daunting if you are blind or have low vision. Yet, with proper safety considerations and technology, travel can be safe and fun. However, a long-distance trip can be dangerous for those unfamiliar with their resources, safety considerations, or those new to long-distance travel. Whether by car, airplane, public transit, or other means, safety should be a top priority when planning long-distance trips.


Long-distance travel should always include adequate planning. Such preparation includes planning and organizing routes, reviewing maps, calling or emailing a contact, determining transit options, and knowing the hours of operation for your place of destination or mode of transportation. You should also always make backup plans in case your original plans fall through. Being prepared for possible challenges to your initial schedule or unexpected events can also help keep you safe, allowing you to avoid being in unsafe areas or situations. Additionally, you should always be aware of your environment and note any potential safety concerns or irregularities.

Preparation Tips

  • Review public transit schedules and maps of stops, pass, or ticket rates; consider pre-purchasing passes.
  • Research your destination city or neighborhood to learn safety information, including hospital and public safety locations and secondary transportation options.
  • Download, save, or print transit information, schedules, and tickets.
  • Review weather forecasts and pack appropriate seasonal items (sunscreen, jacket, umbrella, gloves, etc.)
  • Consider carrying important items in a carry-on bag that remains with you; this can include medication, devices, portable charger, and likely personal care items.
  • If you are a white cane or dog guide user, consider packing an extra cane and an extra cane tip.

Technology Considerations

Have technology that you are familiar and confident with on hand when traveling. This can often include a phone, tablet, laptop, braille display, GPS, wearables, or other devices. It is important for safety and information management purposes to have accessible options to allow you to contact emergency services, hotels, businesses, or other important places. Mobile devices also allow for the use of GPS systems for safe and efficient travel and tracking of pertinent information for tickets, maps, and schedules that may be useful. Make sure you carry charging devices and have a system in place to charge your technology as needed. Safety while using technology is also important to consider. Using bone conduction headphones can be beneficial if you use a screen reader as they allow you to hear the audio but do not block the ear canal. This allows you to simultaneously hear environmental sounds, such as traffic while listening to your screen reader.

Transit Systems

For many people with blindness or low vision, using unfamiliar public transit or traveling long-distance can be intimidating. However, proper preparation and some basic techniques do not have to be the case. First, be sure to research the schedules and ticket options for your mode of transportation, such as the train schedule, bus map, or the number of subway stops that it takes to get to your destination. Next, remember to use proper techniques when using mobility devices and when boarding trains, buses, and other transit.

Transit System Tips

  • Purchase tickets or passes well ahead of your travel date when possible
  • Access maps or schedules ahead of time and consider using a transit app on your mobile device
  • If boarding a bus, you may consider speaking to the driver to request that they let you know when you arrive at your desired stop
  • When boarding a train or subway, consider sitting close to a speaker to ensure you hear the stops announced
  • Arrive at stops early
  • When using rideshare apps, ensure you are entering the appropriate car
    • Consider communicating with the driver once assigned by your app so they are aware you may not see them
  • Consider carrying the items noted previously, such as medications, phone charger, personal items, etc.

Air Travel

Air travel can have its challenges given its busy nature and changing schedules. Therefore, people with blindness or low vision should understand their rights regarding using their cane or dog guide. Ensure that you retain access to your cane when traveling. If you utilize airport staff assistance between gates or to move through security, speak to the agent for information, and consider using a human guide if needed. Arrive early for your flight and, if available, consider using an app that provides a map of the airport to understand the services available.

Additionally, it can be helpful to understand the layout of the plane, which should include exits and restrooms. Flight staff can assist you with this information. Finally, some people find that preboarding is helpful to allow time to locate their seat, stow luggage, and get acclimated to the plane. Emergency information is also often available in braille for those who want it.

Travel does not have to be challenging or intimidating. Many people find it exciting and fun when prepared and equipped with the proper resources. Using the above skills and techniques encourages safe, efficient, and enjoyable travel. Blindness rehabilitation professionals can help you gain or maintain your independence by providing proper training in these travel skills.

Contact us if you have questions or would like to receive more information about traveling with blindness or low vision.