Travel Tips from Blogger ‘Deafinitely Wanderlust’
Becoming deaf at the age of two hasn’t stood in the way of Stacey Valle’s dreams of traveling the world and reporting her experiences through her blog ‘Deafinitely Wanderlust’.
After backpacking and meeting D/deaf people around the world, Stacey noticed that there were many who were interested in traveling, but faced challenges and lacked accessibility, just as she has. This sparked inspiration to start her blog Deafinitely Wanderlust.
The start of ‘Deafinitely Wanderlust’
Inspired by her Dad’s love for writing, Stacey had a habit of keeping diaries as a teenager, which sparked her to desire to learn and grow as a writer. Now, she is a full-time traveler and part-time blogger.
Along with writing for the deaf community, Stacey’s blog is for both deaf people and hearing people, she says. She wants to raise deaf awareness by giving hearing people a new perspective of the Deaf community.
Connecting with people around the world through sign language
Born and raised in California, USA into a hearing family, Stacey grew up communicating orally, while learning American Sign Language (ASL) through school and by interacting with Deaf people.
“My family doesn’t know ASL, so we mainly communicate through gestures, writing things down, or via note apps on phones,” she says. “My little brother eventually learned ASL in high school when he realized that it was important for me.”
Along with ASL, Stacey says she likes learning different sign languages to connect with other Deaf people around the world.
She learned International Sign Langauge from a Deaf traveler during her time in South Korea and continued to practice it with other people she met during her travels. She says she also learned more by watching videos on Facebook and YouTube.
“I’m also trying to learn Mexican Sign Language (LSM) and Korean Sign Language (KSL),” she says. “I find it amazing and beneficial and would love to be able to connect and communicate with different Deaf people. I’ve always wanted to learn at least eight Languages!”
Stacey’s tips for traveling for deaf and hard of hearing people
The biggest challenges for D/deaf people while traveling are communication and language barriers, Stacy says. Here are some suggestions on how to overcome these barriers.
Use apps to help
Apps are great to help with language translation. You can also use a Map App to help show someone where you’d like to go.
“If I encounter a person who is impatient or culturally shocked and struggling to accommodate, I’ll ask someone else for help,” she says.
Also, if there is a lack of visual announcements on many transportation systems, ask someone to help navigate you to where you have to go or to repeat any audio announcements.
Write it down!
Usually, if all else fails, write it down!
Stacey shares a story about how writing notes helped her reach her destination in China.
“I’ll never forget when I was attempting to tell an impatient employee of a destination I wanted,” she says. “I pointed at it, but the employee wouldn’t look at it. I used Google Maps to show her where I wanted to go, she merely nodded and gave me a ticket. It was hard to see what destination it was exactly because it was in Chinese. It turned out that it was a wrong destination and I had to explain to the other employees through written notes to take me back where I was. It’s important to be patient and calm in that situation.”
Plan in advance for safety
It’s always important to be safe while traveling. Always tell someone you know (i.e. family member or a close friend) where you’re going in case of an emergency. Plan alternative communication methods like texting, Find Friends App, GPS tracker, Emergency SMS (variable on the country), or let family/friends know to be aware if someone might be phoning on your behalf. Therefore, if you came across a situation, you’re already prepared.
“I once was stuck in the snowstorm for a couple of days,” she says. “I couldn’t make a phone call or even speak into the emergency kiosk. Now I know to be prepared and have different ways to tell someone where I am.”
Any D/deaf person can travel!
“I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to travel as I can’t hear, but it is possible,” she says. “Don’t let your hearing loss be an obstacle to travel! Do whatever makes you comfortable, traveling with friends or family. Sure, there are going to be a lot of challenges. I wouldn’t lie about that, but it will grow you. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. Happy exploring!”
Deafinitely Wanderlust started out as a joint blog with her friend Lilo, but they recently decided to go their separate ways as their personal lives became quite time-consuming and they found it hard to commit to blogging together. They are still friends and Lilo now has her own blog; Deafinitely Without Barriers!
Keep up with Stacey and her blog Deafinitely Wanderlust here!