Blind girl travels around the world

Becoming blind about 10 years ago, the British girl still pursued her dream of traveling around the world.

In 2023, when arriving in New York, Sassy Wyatt – a 33-year-old British girl, stood on top of the 381 m high Empire State Building. The wind blowing her hair, the sound of helicopters, birdsong, sirens and the vibration under her feet made Wyatt understand how high she was standing even though she couldn’t see.

At the age of 16, when his eyesight was still good enough, Wyatt went to New York but this time it was a completely different experience. She found herself understanding this city more deeply when she focused on feeling with her four senses. Next to Wyatt on the 102nd floor of the Empire State, there was also her best friend – who described to her the scenery of skyscrapers.

“The city came alive for me in a special way,” she said.

When he was 7 years old, Wyatt broke his arm jumping off a swing – something that often happens to naughty children. However, Wyatt quickly realized his body had swelling and was diagnosed with arthritis by the doctor. The disease began to attack other parts of his body, causing pain and Wyatt needed a wheelchair. By the age of 14, the disease affected her vision, causing her eyes to be very painful and her vision began to gradually decrease.

Wyatt next to his guide dog Ida. Image: Sassy Wyatt

Suppressing her sadness, Wyatt’s parents motivated her with the thought “travel is for all”. She began traveling in a wheelchair and continued to enjoy life as a normal teenager, from attending college to going to bars with friends. During winter vacation, she enjoys paragliding and some sports such as skiing.

At the age of 20, Wyatt’s eyesight went completely blind while he was in college. She lost confidence, dropped out of school and faced the first turbulence of her life when she was rejected from a series of jobs. For about two years, Wyatt fell into a state of depression but stood up for himself because he “didn’t want life to stop”.

She began participating in local volunteer activities, helping people in the blind community, and began to know and date her current husband. This period of time motivated Wyatt to get up and continue traveling.

“I don’t want these eyes to prevent me from seeing the world,” she said.

In 2016, Wyatt attended a friend’s wedding in Malta, marking his first time traveling since becoming blind. On subsequent trips abroad, she had a companion, a guide dog named Ida. The two went to Rotterdam, Netherlands together to attend a travel conference. The trip marked the first time Wyatt flew on his own after going blind.

Ida helped Wyatt a lot, from taking her to the airport, train station or finding a hotel room. Wyatt joked that the dog “allowed her to get lost but still feel safe.”

Wyatt (center) participates in adventure activities in London. Image: Sassy Wyatt

Since having Ida, Wyatt has become more confident, traveled more and started blogging about his journey. Along the way, she met many people who traveled for a living and realized she could do the same. Currently, Wyatt works as a travel consultant with the goal of creating travel opportunities for people with both intellectual and physical disabilities.

She shares her experiences, both good and bad, from implementing safety rules when flying, how to book special assistance services to the frustrations and limitations of blind people when traveling like having to go to airport earlier than many other passengers.

According to Wyatt, careful research before the trip is important. She herself often consults travel blogs, videos, and podcasts to better understand the destination from the perspective of “someone who experiences with all five senses”. Before boarding the plane, she also learns some of the destination’s language and key phrases to explain her request.

Wyatt describes himself as an “open book” because he is always willing to talk to people on his travels. Many people are interested and want to hear the experiences of a blind traveling person like her. Someone once asked if he couldn’t see, why would Wyatt try to travel? She responds and describes her experience at the destination using the other four senses and learns about things in many different ways.

Wyatt on a trip to New York in 2023. Photo: Sassy Wyatt

Although she sees everything in a positive way, she admits to encountering many inconveniences such as limited public transportation options. Wyatt can only take Ida on a trip with her to Europe – where she feels she is protected by the European Accessibility Act (EAA) – which regulates many types of products and services, including online experiences, must be available. function that allows blind people to access.

Wyatt enjoys exploring new destinations by walking or taking food tours. In May, she took a trip to Tallinn, Estonia and visited the city’s museum. Wyatt was impressed with the audio and braille instructions.

Wyatt’s travel preferences are different from her husband’s as she likes to participate in experiential activities such as kayaking, mountain climbing, and zip-lining, while Wyatt’s husband likes to lie on the beach all day. The British female blogger likes to enjoy “the wind blowing through her hair while ziplining” or “the splashing of water and the sound of hitting the rocks while rafting.”

She also likes quiet moments to reflect, like when she was in Malta. Wyatt listened to the sound of the waves, felt the heat of the sand, breathed the air.

“I don’t need to see clear blue water to understand how beautiful the sea is,” she said.

By Editor

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