When I received an email from Max, aka the Blind Blogger, inviting me to review his latest book, I jumped at the chance. As a travel blogger, the thought of losing my sight terrifies me. I cannot begin to imagine how I would enjoy travelling without the pleasure of sight.
I’m drawn to nature like a moth to a flame. Snow-capped mountains and crystal clear waters make my stomach do happy somersaults. Such scenes have even been known to bring tears to my eyes. I was thus keen to see if I could gain any insight into what life would be like for a blind person, and whether travel would be either possible or enjoyable.
The Blind Bloggers NYC adventures
Max kindly sent me a copy of ‘The Blind Blogger’s NYC Adventures’ and I eagerly turned the pages, keen to gain some new insight into what drives people to travel. I swear, those pages turned quicker than Trump on his opponents, and I’d ploughed through the book in no time!
Ability not disability
The first thing I learn from Max’s candid storytelling is that blindness does not prevent Max from appreciating travel. Perhaps in some ways, he experiences it more intensely. Sounds, smells, and human interaction are to him what marvelling at mountain vistas and sun-drenched beaches are to me. We both crave an adventure, both want to escape the mundane, but in the same way that you and I might go on the same trip and return with very different memories, Max and I simply experience our travels differently.
This is a lesson in humility. Too often, I read blogger posts questioning whether you are a ‘Traveller or a Tourist?’ This question implies there is a correct way to travel and that one is superior to another. Isn’t this part of the problem with society today? That we seem to have lost the ability to tolerate difference?
Surely, we should each be able to travel in the way we want, without being judged. Some people love cities, others love nature, some even travel largely for the food. Max’s straightforward storytelling reminds me that we should not force our preferences on others, but should revel in what makes our own hearts sing when we next head off on a new adventure.
An Amtrak adventure
Max’s journey follows his cross-country trip from Houston to New York to Chicago. He was the proud winner of the prestigious Amtrak Writers in Residency Programme, and won the opportunity to select four Amtrak journeys.
Despite objections from his family, he decided to embrace the challenge of long distance travel alone, and visit the Big Apple over Christmas and New Year. Max talks about dreaming big in his book and honestly, I don’t think you can dream much bigger. Christmas in New York is big and brash, noisy, and chaotic, crowded, and unpredictable, but that was part of the attraction.
If you are one of those people fretting about solo travel, I urge you to read Max’s story. If he can conjure up enough support from well-wishers to achieve his dream, then so can you. Max is living proof that with self-belief, research, and a willingness to confront your fears head on, obstacles can be overcome.
Diverse travel desires
Although Max is unable to describe the places he visited, he reminds me that there are other equally compelling reasons to travel. He recounts conversations with diverse people in vivid detail, and I find myself recalling fond memories of travelling in my younger years. Back then, I travelled not just to see, but to taste new foods, try new drinks (cherry beer anyone?) and meet new people from diverse cultures.
Some of my dearest memories of travel have people in a starring role. How about that wonderful family that virtually adopted me when I arrived in Italy with nowhere to stay? The Maori bus driver who invited us to a party at his house one evening only for us to stay a few days? (That memory is slightly ruined by the fact that New Zealand beat England at rugby during our stay!!) Or the Californian poet I met on a train platform in Brussels?
Then there were the crazy nights out in Florida with my sisters from another mister (yes, Angela and Jenny, I am talking about you). I feel blessed that I have such an incredibly colourful, kaleidoscopic treasure trove of memories thanks to other people.
Thanks for reminding me of the power of connection, Max.
Feel the fear
Mostly though I’m struck by Max’s positivity, by his determination to confront his fear full on, to take every opportunity and embrace it with relentless passion.
His skating session at Rockefeller reminds me of a similar mad caper I indulged in, at a sales convention in New York, when I took to the ice like a new born penguin. Wearing an ankle length ball gown, and having drank too many wines to claim sobriety, that ice skating expedition was as exhilarating as it was dangerous.
Max’s friends and families tried to put him off this trip because of the perceived dangers. My colleagues tried to prevent me breaking a leg on the ice, but sometimes you just must follow your heart. Max’s unfailing optimism encourages us to do something despite possible dangers. Too often, we hide behind excuses for what might happen but what if the alternative was something amazing?
Reading Max’s book is like a mirror to your soul. His suggestions, questions and tips encourage introspection. They force you to question your purpose, whether you are doing everything to achieve your dreams or whether you are making excuses. Max may be humble about his achievements, but he pushes the boundaries, and has an incredible power to inspire others.
I will leave you with a quote from the book which sums up the essence of Max’s trip.
‘Remember, you are pursuing your own goals and dreams, stop making excuses
and be courageous enough to take risks in your life if you want your dreams to come true!’
What do you want to achieve?
So, what are you waiting for? Get your own copy of this inspiring read, and find your motivation to achieve your dreams.
Afterwards, check back and let us know what you think. We’d love to know, especially if it inspires you to make a change. Feel free to tag both Max and I on Twitter too using @TTGLOBE4L and @Maxwell Ivey. Please use the hashtag #MaxRTWChallenge and help us spread the word about our 2018 crazy idea!
You could even use the following tweet to get you started.
Are you up for a challenge?
Max has had a taste of adventure and if he can cope with New York, I figure it is time to dream BIGGER! Why not create a trip of a lifetime for him overseas? Just imagine if we could find twenty or thirty people around the UK, who would be prepared to host Max for a few days…Maybe, even across Europe or beyond.
What kind of experiences might he have then? What amazing foods? Maybe you would be willing to put Max up, and share some unique activities or experiences with him, that would allow him to continue his daredevil quest. I will be hosting Max in Sheffield in December 2018, but I need your help to make this crazy idea reality.
If you would be willing to help out, then please let me know where you live and what activities you would recommend for a blind person visiting your city. To make this easy, we have set up a google sheet to organise this information and you can view and edit it here. I can then add you to the ‘Max Round The World Challenge‘ group. If you also know of anyone else who might be willing to help, please share
Maybe together we could achieve something amazing this year!