Megan: Hello and welcome to Travel Radio Podcast. Today I am privilege to have Kevin Lowe on the podcast for the first time. Kevin will you take a moment to introduce yourself?
Kevin: Absolutely. I'm the owner of Better Days Travel where I get to help make people's dreams come true through the design of Bucket List vacations. In addition I'm an avid blogger and host of my own podcast called The Lowe Down on Life and Travel. And of course I should mention the one characteristic that does set me apart from the majority, and that being that I am completely blind.
Megan: Well, belated Happy International Podcast Day! Will you share a little about your podcast?
Kevin: I'd love to. So, my podcast, The Lowe Down on Life and Travel is a place where I am able to combine my love for traveling with my passion for enjoying life in a way that I can only hope will be of some sort of inspiration to those listening.
Megan: Where can people find you online?
Kevin: Well, my travel agency's website is a great starting point, www.BetterDaysTravel.com. But then I'm also on Facebook and Instagram... @BetterDaysTravel
Megan: Before we get started into our formal interview questions... I want you tell me how someone should approach or talk about blindness or a bling person in a framework that causes as little offense ad possible.
Kevin: Well, I'll preface my answer by saying that I can only speak on my behalf. Everyone is different, so just know that I am answering for myself, not particularly for the entire blind community. But with that said, I will ask you to please not worry what so ever about saying something offensive or saying the wrong thing. I am completely blind, which I use to describe my blindness in a way to explain that I do not see anything. So, I do not have any light perception what so ever. Many people are actually not completely blind, the majority still have some degree of vision and that is where the term, Visually Impaired comes into play.
Megan: Let’s dive into today's topic a "Blind Review” of sorts. (Is this offensive to blind people?). Lot’s of businesses claim to have blind reviews on products but you are the real deal. Let’s talk about your strengths and senses that have heightened since you became blind. Can you describe those to us?
Kevin: A "Blind Review"! I love it! So, yes, it is actually quite amazing how our other senses take over when one is lost. Sometimes people think that we have some type of extraordinary hearing ability, but that's not really the case... It's just that my brain is now focusing all of its attention to the senses I have left, making them much more in-tune than someone with say all 5 senses. One thing that is pretty interesting is that as of about 3 years ago I developed a new ability, and that is to see through the use of echo location. So, my brain, the visual cortex, has been retrained to see not with sight, but with sound. (I can go on to explain this if you would like during the recording).
Megan: I would assume going on vacation is a very different experience for you. I would like to know, capitalizing on your sense of touch, what is it in a resort or cruise ship that makes it stand out above the rest in terms of a level of luxury?
Kevin: I will answer by comparing and contrasting various resorts and cruise ships that I have been on to help explain the way in which I "see" the destination. With my answer I will touch on noticing how clean or not clean the room is, how plush and comfortable the bed is, does the shower have a nice rain shower head, carpeting verses tile, etc.
Megan: Now, I know this should not be the case, but I have seen people with disabilities be treated very poorly. Some staff, I’ve witnessed, have treated their guests as an inconvenience. I hope this has not happened to you. In your experience, what hotel properties or resorts/cruise lines have treated you the best?
Kevin: That is definitely unfortunate to hear. I have actually not had any situations or experiences like this. Matter of fact, I have been overly impressed with the level of customer service offered to me while traveling, especially out of the country. No matter which cruise line I have been on or which resort in the Caribbean or Mexico I have stayed at, the customer service is amazing. There are some cruise lines that get a much undeserved negative stereotype like Carnival Cruise Line. I will tell you, every Carnival Cruise I have been on has been over the top in terms of the most amazing crew ever. It's not uncommon for our waiter at dinner to offer to cut up my steak for me, or be sure to let me know that he just set a drink in front of me, etc. That may sound like something that every waiter or waitress would do, but I can tell you that is not the case.
Megan: What country has the friendliest people?
Kevin: Well, I've not had the chance to travel to many different countries, but based on where I have been, Jamaica hands down! The people of Jamaica are absolutly out of this world.
Megan: Is sound an issue for you? To clarify, are loud sounds or too many sounds overwhelming?
Kevin: I wouldn't say that loud places are overwhelming, but they can be frustrating. Often times I will go out to dinner and I always cringe when it's somewhere with live music, because 9 times out of 10 the band is going to be so loud that it's impossible to hear anyone around you. So, situations like that definitely frustrate me.
Megan: What experience or destination has been the best for you? Or, maybe you could talk to an exciting experience and a relaxing location?
Kevin: For this I have to go to the Caribbean. Two particular experiences stand out the most to me, one in Jamaica and the other in Puerto Rico. In Jamaica we went to the top of Mystic Mountain and oh my goodness this was amazing. At the top of Mystic Mountain is this "playground" of sorts complete with a swimming pool, bar and restaurant, a roller coaster, zip lining, and plenty of places to just sit back and relax. But what made this so amazing to me was the ride to the top of the mountain. They have a chairlift, much like you would use while snow skiing, that takes you up overtop of the lush tropical forest on your way to the top of the mountain. The sounds coming from forest were amazing as it was just full of birds.
The other experience that stands out is a shore excursion we booked during one of our cruise's in Puerto Rico. The excursion took us to the rain forest where we would then take a pretty long hike through the woods. What made it one to remember is that the driver and tour guide walked with me, stopping to let me feel different plants and explaining what they were. He would draw my attention to certain sounds, telling me what type of bird that was. It was absolutely out of this world!
Megan: What other pointers can you give people that are planning travel for themselves or perhaps their bling clients?
Kevin: I feel the most important tip I can give anyone traveling is to not overload your itinerary. Give yourself time to get to fully experience the destination. And with that, whether you have all 5 senses or are down to only 3 like me, realize that there is so much more to the world than just what the eye can see. So many times people travel to see the sites and that's great. But if you don't take the time to get out of the car and hear the sounds of the destination, smell the aromas floating through the air, feel the difference in the air, hear the sounds all around you then in fact, you are cutting yourself short.
Megan: Is there anything else you would like to include in the podcast before we close out the show?
Kevin: I would just like to remind anyone listening that nothing in this life is guaranteed. None of us are guaranteed that tomorrow will come, or that it will look the same as it is today. So, please do it for no one else but yourself, get out and enjoy life. I know times are tough, but I'm here to tell you... Life can change in the blink of an eye.
Megan: Thank you for being on the podcast Kevin! It was a pleasure!
Hi, I'm Kevin Lowe, the Founder of Better Days Travel, a travel agency rooted by faith and inspired by life itself. I am a follower of Jesus, a lover of people. I love to laugh, hate to cry. I crave new experiences yet love the comfort of home. I appreciate every day and every night, even the bad ones as it helps me to appreciate the good ones. I choose to see the positive in situations as well as the good in people. I love the magnificence of the morning sunrise, but even more so appreciate its signal that a new day has begun.
But there was a day and time when I did not appreciate the morning rays of sunlight, as there was no sunlight for me to see. I craved the opportunity for a new beginning, for a miracle, healing, but it never came, not even with the rising sun. You must understand that right where my story stops is in fact, right where it begins!
In 2003 my life was forever changed. Waking from a surgery that saved my life by removing a recently discovered brain tumor would prove to be at a cost no one ever expected. I was left completely blind in both eyes. No shapes, no shadows, no light, no dark, just black.
When the words were whispered from my lips that I could not see anything the world quit spinning. It was not supposed to happen like this. I was having surgery to save my life, to better my life, not this. But in fact, it was this, I was blind.
But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps all along, from the time I was born, it was in God’s plan for this to happen, for me to become blind. Throughout my childhood, God’s hands were at work, constantly working, continually molding me into a person who could handle it. He made me the person I am because he knew that I would fight through the sadness, wipe away the tears, and do it all by giving him all the glory. He knew that I would be a better man, serving a greater purpose in this life without my sight than with it.
And that is why today, “I walk by faith, not by sight”. I am guided through life by the blessings I have, not forsaken by the trials I have faced. God blessed me with the ability to recognize that the world’s beauty goes far deeper than just what the eye can see. I love to meet new people, discover new cultures not based on what someone looks like, but based on who they are. I love to visit new places, try new things, taste new foods, experience new adventures, and do it all by harnessing the power of the senses I do have. At the end of the day, I sometimes feel as though I see more of the world than those with perfect vision.
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