Lonely Planet Writer

This totally blind man has travelled solo to 125 countries

One adventurous author has shared a series of ebooks documenting his experiences exploring 125 countries solo as a totally blind and partially deaf person, offering a truly unique perspective on the world of travel.

Tony at The Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Tony at The Western Wall in Jerusalem. Image by Tony Giles

Tony Giles, from Weston-super-Mare in south-west England has spent the last few years travelling as much as possible. To date, his adventures have included seeing all 50 US States, all ten Canadian Provinces, crossing the Arctic Circle by boat off the coast of Norway, bungee jumping 16 times and taking part in three skydives. Having been born with a rare genetic impairment that resulted in Cone Dystrophy and Photo Phobia, and discovering that he was partially deaf in both ears at the age of six, Tony’s path to a life of travel called for him to adapt and pick up unique skills, but his interest in the open road was clear from a very young age. “My dad inspired me to travel with the stories he told me about his time at sea in the merchant navy, and about crossing Australia by train. Also being at a boarding school from the age of ten and a long distance from home encouraged me to get on buses and trains to see my family,” Tony told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Tony at the floating market in Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Tony at the floating market in Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Indonesia. Image by Tony Giles

Now 39 years old, Tony has just returned from a trip that saw him visiting Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. As well as being the author of a string of ebooks, titles of which include Seeing The World My Way and Seeing The Americas My Way, Tony recently made a documentary with BBC World Travel Show and is passionate about sharing the lessons he has learned from his unique experiences.

Tony Sliding along a zip wire to a bungee platform in San Gil, Colombia.
Tony Sliding along a zip wire to a bungee platform in San Gil, Colombia. Image by Tony Giles

“Travelling has taught me a greater awareness of the world, my fellow travellers, myself, humility, to share more, to respect myself and other people more, patience, which is the real skill to travelling, and many other components. I’ve become a better person, or maybe a more open person. I’m so lucky to visit different countries and discover different cultures, using all of my body’s senses, taste, smell, touch, hearing, my skin, feet to detect changes in terrain, gradients and surfaces. My blindness has allowed me to gain a different picture of the world. It enables me to judge people by voice and their personality, rather than their appearance, skin colour or disability,” Tony told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Tony riding a hose on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua.
Tony riding a horse on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. Image by Tony Giles

Tony’s list for next year includes trips to Russia and Greenland, with his final plan being to visit every country in the world while spreading awareness. “Hopefully I can help educate societies into understanding that being disabled is nothing to be scared of or ashamed about. We’re all just people. To other blind and visually impaired people interested in travel, I’d say, live life, have a go. It’s not easy, you need to have plenty of confidence, which I have in abundance, good mobility skills, and knowledge of the places you wish to visit.”

More information on Tony’s travels is available on his personal website.