How to Explore a New Place Alone with a Visual Impairment

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a bit of time exploring places on my own. I went into Zurich city, visited Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart and completed the Marburg800 Discovery Trail. At home in Ireland, I am very independent and regularly go it alone for various different things. However, exploring a new place in a different country, with a language barrier is quite different! It can be done though, with some prep, planning, getting out there, taking your time and enjoying it! Continue reading to find out a bit more about how I explore new places with me, myself and I.

1. Planning

I love a good plan! Rarely a day goes by without a bit of planning being involved. Whether it be planning our next stop on our vanlife adventure or deciding how to spend the day, planning is a regular part of my life.

I go into hyper planning mode when I’m going it alone as I like to know the what, where, when and how of what I’m going to be doing. I start off by researching what there is to do in a place. I then decided what I’d like to see. I check how easy it is to access (on foot, by bus or only by car) and how long it takes to get there. I then look to see if they have any additional services that might be useful for me and purchase any tickets I might need. I also plan out my route with google maps and save any locations so I can easily find them later.

A view looking up a cobbled street. Tall narrow buildings are on each side, some flying red and white Swiss flags. People are walking along and a cyclist is going past carrying a green yoga mat
A street in the old town of Zurich, Switzerland

2. Prep

Next, I get my stuff together! As I rely heavily on my phone for orientation, I make sure it and my earbuds are fully charged. I then pack a little bag with the basics like suncream, sunglasses, purse, hand sanitiser and my phone. Lastly I check the weather and decide on what is best to wear – as its so hot nowadays, it’s always a lightweight outfit, comfy shoes, a cap and of course, SPF!

3. Go!

Now I’m ready for off! Once the plan is made and I’m well prepped, I head off into a new adventure. One of the joys about going alone is you can do it whenever and wherever you like, and you do whatever takes your fancy. It might be useful to start small if you have never done this before and head to somewhere close by for a short walk or a coffee in the local cafĂ©.

A picture of a sprawling city with mountains in the background. A red brick pointed church tower is clearly visible along with the tops of green trees. The sky is blue and cloudy overhead
The view from the Castle in Marburg, Germany

4. Take it slow

Don’t be afraid to stop and smell the roses! One of the joys of going out alone is that you can do it at your own pace. If you need to take a moment to recheck our maps or do some more research, you can. You’re on your own clock and have no one else to consider, so you really can do it your own way. I regularly take a little break along the way to check I’m heading in the right direction and to enjoy my surroundings.

5. Enjoy it

Fall in love with your newfound freedom! It’s so empowering doing things alone. All of a sudden the locale is your oyster, to enjoy when, where and however you wish! Simply glorious. It might be hard to start but once you do, and you build up some confidence, who knows where your next solo trip might take you!

A Lynx in Stuttgart's Wilhelma Zoo. A lynx looks like a mixture of a cat and a fox with very long legs. Their hair is red with black legs and pointed ears.
A Lynx in Wilhelma Zoo, Stuttgart

I have used these tips and tricks for years to do everything from wandering around a new town, going horse riding and walking 100km of the Camino di Santiago alone. I hope they help you find your solo travel bug.

Thanks for reading, Aoife x


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