Renee Kuester-Sebranek has traveled the globe, visiting the Amazon jungle, Europe, Ireland, Thailand and Mexico, among many other fascinating destinations. And earlier this year she told the world about her adventures as a guest on the podcast, A Different Way of Travelling.
“Remember that blind and visually impaired people can do virtually anything with the right resources and support, and I encourage everyone to get out there and explore the world and make some memories,” she told Lois Strachan, a blind woman who hosts the podcast on accessible travel from Cape Town, South Africa. Renee was Lois’s first guest from the United States earlier this year.
Renee, who lives in Chippewa Falls with her husband and her guide dog, Charade, has never considered her blindness a reason not to explore the world.
“I love to travel,” Kuester-Sebranek says. “I go with my mom or friends, a tour guide or tour group. The people help make the trips special and accessible for me through their audio descriptions of what they are seeing. But I rely heavily on my other senses, my hearing, the smells, even the taste of the food. It helps me enjoy the entire journey.”
Renee knows that self-advocacy, education and confidence are keys to enjoyable, accessible travel. She isn’t afraid to speak up, even while in another country.
“I was in Mexico and wanted to swim with the dolphins,” she explains. “The guide wasn’t sure I could do it, but after telling him how confident I felt, they helped me swim, then find and touch the dolphins. I had a similar experience when I planned to zipline down a mountain. I told the guide I wanted to do it and had paid to be able to do it. Eventually he ziplined with me and we had a lot of fun!”
Where will Renee visit next? A cruise to Alaska and a train trip through the Canadian Rockies are on her wish list. And she will continue to bring her advocacy skills and awareness with her wherever she goes.
You can listen to the entire interview on the iono.fm website.