Achromatopsia Travel Essentials
Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 3:36PM
Richard Windsor in Essentials, Germany, Travel

I'm packing my bags for another adventure – this time, a month in Germany with my husband. We'll be visiting castles, museums, vintage steam railways, galleries, archaeological sites, and music festivals between Munich and Hamburg.

So what does an achromat pack in her suitcase for a long trip abroad? Mostly, the same thing as any person going away – tons of spare underwear, solid shampoo / conditioner, and a pair of warm woolly socks for the plane.

But I have a few travel essentials I don't think any achromat can leave home without:

E-Reader: My favorite travel device is my Kobo-ereader. I can take a library of 1000 books with me all over the world, all inside my handbag. At 200grams, the kobo is lighter than any book and easier to hold close to your face than those ungainly hardbacks. You can enlarge the print size for easy reading, and the e-ink screen doesn't reflect glare.

Miniscope: Vital for reading takeaway menus, street signs, bus timetables, and the finer details as classical sculpture.

Camera visor: This clever device fits over the screen on your digital camera, and looks like a pair of mini-shutters. When you want to take a picture, you open the shutters and the little awning pops out and shields the screen from the glare of the sun. They cost around $10-$30US. I glue mine on to attach it permanently.

Spare pair of sunglasses: I haven't yet brought a second pair of prescription lenses, but I always pack a spare pair of cheap, dark sunglasses. They're not perfect, but if my glasses break, or I need to go somewhere during the day and I don't want to take my expensive lenses, these come in handy.

Large Print Public transport map: I find these on tourist sites online, enlarge them, download them, print them off and, if I can't distinguish the colour codes, get a friend to add symbols before I leave.

iPod/Mp3 player: not only is this great for plane, train and car rides, but you can also load audio books and keep reading when your eyes are tired.

Vocabulary on paper: it takes me twice as long to flip through a phrasebook as a sighted person, so I normally make a list of essential words on a piece of paper in a size I can quickly skim. Luckily, I'm pretty fluent in German, so I hope I'll be OK without it!

Cane: I keep this handy if I'm travelling alone and need to notify people that I'm blind – for instance, if I'm in a crowded tourist space and I need help.

Adventurous spirit: I love travelling and exploring new places, and believe you should always throw yourself headlong into the fray. Strike up conversations with locals and other travelers, try some amazing food, climb higher, walk longer and laugh louder than you ever have before – you'll discover more about the world, and more about yourself.

Achromats, what essential travel devices can you not live without?

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