Sara’s overseas adventures
Travelling is a great way for a deaf young person to increase their confidence, make new friends and learn about the world. It’s also an opportunity for them to gain new skills by volunteering or learning a new language.
We spoke to Sara about her travelling experiences.
This interview featured in Families, our quarterly magazine for members.
Hi Sara. Tell us about yourself.
I’m 22, I’ve been profoundly deaf since birth and use BSL. At the moment I’m studying for a BA Hons in Special Education at the University of East London. I hope to become a Teacher of the Deaf.
I hear you’ve done a lot of travelling. Tell us about where you went on your first trip.
When I was 18 I went to China, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji – it was amazing!
Wow, what made you want to go?
My parents, who are deaf, told me about their travels. I realised that by travelling I’d find out about the world and different cultures and I’ve always been adventurous.
What did your parents think about you going?
They were pleased! I went with my boyfriend, two friends (we’re all deaf), and at the last minute my 17-year-old brother said he wanted to come too. I reassured my parents that I’d be with him all the time and they agreed he could come.
How did you prepare for the trip?
STA travel agency helped us with flights, some accommodation, and visas, but we organised our own itinerary. They told us it might be wise to go on an organised tour because we’re deaf but we didn’t want to.
What was the best moment of your trip?
Visiting China had a big impact on me. The different language, attitudes and lifestyle meant it was a bit of a culture shock. The Great Wall of China was incredible!
Are there any specific challenges for deaf people travelling?
We thought communication would be a barrier, but hearing people had the same problem! In China we relied on miming, hand gestures and writing things down. The main challenge was people saying we couldn’t travel because we’re deaf, but honestly, I didn’t feel disadvantaged.
Do you have any advice for deaf young people thinking about travelling?
Pluck up the courage to go – it will change your life! Research well, and ask people who’ve been to the countries you want to visit for advice. Check whether you need a visa, budget carefully, and split your money between cards. You won’t regret travelling – it will make you a better, wiser, more confident person, with memories that last a lifetime.
What about advice for parents who are nervous about their child going travelling?
Maybe encourage them to travel with someone else to ease your worries. They’ll thank you for supporting them. My friends who haven’t travelled rely on their parents too much, but that lack of confidence will change when they’re globetrotting.