There was that one time when I didn’t convert to the 24 hour time system, so I almost missed my train to Vigo. And there was that one time when I didn’t want to leave my hostel because i was so exhausted, but I was in Spain, so I chose to make some mental effort. And there was that one time when some employee almost didn’t let me take my train to Barcelona because I was traveling by myself, so I drew upon my Spanish and did some fast convincing. And there was that one time when I thought I understood the metro, so I didn’t ask which direction it was actually heading. And there was that one time when I sent my friend my current location and asked her to please just come get me. And there was that one time when I fell asleep on the metro and completely missed my stop and had to sleepily orient myself again in Spanish. Last but not least, there were that many times when people called me “valiente.” If I had a euro for every time someone said this to me, I’d be able to afford another plane ticket to España my heart.
Traveling alone as a blind person is a lot of fun, provided you have good mobility skills and good communication skills in the primary language spoken in the country. So go ahead, see the world if you really want to. Book a getaway for just yourself. You won’t regret it. There are so many foreign things for your palate to savor; there’s a whole host of wonderful sounds to hear; there’s so much fresh air to smell. Seriously, even the cars sound strange. I would describe them to you, but descriptive writing is not the purpose of this blog post.
How did I do it?
First, I had no expectations. I already knew that I was going to get lost. I knew that it was highly unlikely I could cram activity after activity into my day. I already excepted the fact that I was crazy for flying to a different country sola. I thought, “I have my cane, my Spanish, my sense of fun; what else do I really need?”
Second, I was pretty confident in my language and mobility skills — both of these skills made it possible for me to have a great time. If you can’t communicate in the primary language they speak in the country you want to visit and you don’t possess decent orientation and mobility skills, I would recommend not traveling completely on your own.
Third, I just really wanted to go back to Spain. When you desire something so much, you push yourself out of your comfort zone. I wasn’t ready to wait around for people to travel with me, so I just went on my own. I don’t think i would ever travel to, say, Africa by myself because I don’t feel compelled to see Africa enough to make the extra effort.
I would recommend traveling by yourself to anyone. First, you learn to really appreciate your creature comforts. You appreciate how many services exist to make your daily and professional life easier. You also realize what is most important to you when you’re strolling around Las Ramblas by yourself and wondering whether it’s too excessive to learn the location of both the metro and bus stops.
If you decide to viajar solo, accept that there will be stressful moments that make you think longingly of your own city. However, if you can successfully get around and enjoy yourself, the payoff is absolutely worth it.