How Many Dyslexics Does It Take to Rewrite the Travel Rules?

god forbid

god forbid


Well, actually, you’d need at least one non-dyslexic to transcribe the edict. But that’s not the point, at least not of my latest article on BootsnAll, which explores untraditional travel techniques I’ve learned from my brother.

Aaron’s a severe dyslexic with a disarmingly positive outlook and tireless work ethic that’s enabled him to do all sorts of difficult things—things most of us take for granted. This includes traveling. Imagine trying to decipher a foreign language when letters mischievously switch themselves, or trying to understand unusual sounds through an auditory processing system full of static and interference, with all the wires crossed and smoking. Enough to make you want to stay at home, huh?

But for someone with such seemingly insurmountable obstacles inhibiting him, Aaron’s managed to get on the road a fair amount; he just hasn’t done the usual guidebook, itinerary, sight-seeing kind of travel. He’s traveled home with friends from Cuba and Guatemala, traveled up the West Coast into Canada, arrived reservation-less in New Zealand. An incredibly outgoing person, he’s relied on his own gregarious personality to get him along, rather than the clutches a lot of travelers lean on. I’ve tried to incorporate his seat-of-the-pants approach to travel into my own Lonely-Planet-endeared style, and the article was my attempt to share those lessons with other travelers.

The Editor at BootsnAll wanted me to go light on the dyslexic angel, and that’s understandable: it’s not something a lot of people relate to, and they want to publish articles with compelling titles that generate page views. And the article met a largely positive reception from readers. But there’s always that one comment, that one nay-sayer, and this time, I’ve got to say, I could see her point.

I realized that, for me, the real story wasn’t the travel tips, but my brother. My whole life I’ve watched him struggle to do things that were absurdly easy for me: writing essays, reading text books, enjoying novels. His determined, un-self-pitying efforts to intellectually engage as an adult have continued to inspire me. His natural curiosity led him slug through Open Veins of Latin America, not light material for anyone, let alone a person at a 6th grade reading level. He watches subtitled movies three times—once to just absorb the images, a second time to pause and read all the subtitles, and a third time to weave it all together. Yes, he travels, but he also makes it through daily life, and usually with a giant grin on his face.

Travel’s about a lot of things, and one of them is inspiration. It can come from a variety of places, in totally unexpected forms. And beyond trying to get off the guidebook and ditching the streetmap, my brother’s inspired me to push myself beyond what I think is possible for myself. And that includes, for me, traveling.

So that’s the almost-as-long-as-the-article backstory; you can read the actual story here.

Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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