Q&A

with , to­tally blind and Tony Giles par­tially deaf world solo trav­eler

Lonely Planet Magazine (US) - - Top Picks - In­ter­viewed by CINDY GUIER Tony Giles’s ebooks, See­ing The Amer­i­cas My Way and See­ing The World My Way, are avail­able on­line at ebook stores. For more about Giles and his trav­els, see his web­site, tony­thetrav­eller.com.

The 39-year-old Bri­tish-born global trav­eler and au­thor, who has shared a se­ries of ebooks doc­u­ment­ing his ad­ven­tures, has a unique and in­spir­ing per­spec­tive on see­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the world.

Q

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Go­ing from my home to school by taxi every day when I was 5. It was an hour-long jour­ney of some 20 miles and I used to get car­sick in the be­gin­ning.

Q

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New Zealand is my fa­vorite coun­try out of

127 na­tions vis­ited thus far. I’d like to live there, prob­a­bly on South Is­land. The weather re­minds me of Eng­land, of­ten wet and cold and windy. The peo­ple are so friendly and re­laxed . . . and the coun­try’s na­ture is fan­tas­tic. You don’t have to see it to en­joy it: open spa­ces, long iso­lated beaches with no one on them apart from cry­ing seabirds, the smell of the salt air and, some­times, stink­ing seal colonies, tow­er­ing moun­tains and huge glis­ten­ing lakes. What more could a trav­eler ask for?

Q

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Myan­mar, In­dia, Galá­pa­gos Is­lands and more of Ecuador.

Q

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A

I have learnt sev­eral skills to en­able me to travel suc­cess­fully and largely in­de­pen­dently.

For ex­am­ple, I had to learn to be or­ga­nized, have copies of my travel doc­u­ments with braille la­bels to iden­tify each doc­u­ment, and carry a spare long cane which folds into four pieces. I carry spare hear­ing aids and bat­ter­ies, be­cause in many coun­tries this equip­ment is al­most nonex­is­tent. I had to learn how to trust peo­ple – to help me cross roads, get good and ex­act di­rec­tions to my lo­ca­tion, and to get cor­rect bus/ train/sub­way in­for­ma­tion. I learnt to judge a per­son’s char­ac­ter by lis­ten­ing to their voice, what they said or didn’t say, their man­ner­isms, how they acted around me and re­acted to me and my blind­ness. I learnt to sense peo­ple’s en­ergy: pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive. I had to de­velop a sys­tem for han­dling dif­fer­ent cur­ren­cies and rec­og­niz­ing the var­i­ous de­nom­i­na­tions of a par­tic­u­lar cur­rency.

Q

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A

That I travel cheaply and that I don’t or, very rarely, stay in ho­tels. I like to stay in youth hos­tels, where a room is shared between four, six, eight or more com­plete strangers! This is how I find com­pan­ions to help me get to places of in­ter­est and also how I of­ten make friends. I now couch surf via an on­line net­work of mainly lo­cal hosts who of­fer a couch or bed for free to like-minded trav­el­ers with the aim of the project to en­cour­age peo­ple to share travel ideas and cul­ture and cre­ate friend­ships and open­ness.

Q

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A

That they are, in gen­eral, no dif­fer­ent from any­body else. Dis­abled peo­ple may re­quire a lit­tle more as­sis­tance on oc­ca­sions, es­pe­cially with ac­cess­ing some build­ings and public trans­porta­tion. Some adap­ta­tions to build­ings, trans­port, roads, side­walks, etc. are needed, but many of these adap­ta­tions would ben­e­fit nondis­abled trav­el­ers and the public alike.

Q

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A

Set­ting foot on the Antarc­tic con­ti­nent and feel­ing the crisp, cold air on my hands and face and the crunch of shin­gled beach and icy snow un­der my boots was re­mark­able. Also hear­ing a hump­back whale breach very close to the ship’s side on that same trip was beau­ti­ful and amaz­ing.

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