Globe-trotting Tony Giles has travelled 280,000 around the globe and visited 54 countries – despite being BLIND and DEAF.
The intrepid backpacker has travelled hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe despite being unable to see any of the beautiful sites.
He is also 80 per cent deaf but claims that he experiences the stunning settings through the local people and his sense of touch and smell.
Tony, 30, is determined to visit every country in the world and has now crossed off 54 – 26 in the last three years – all with the help of his white stick.
And despite a few incidents of pick-pocketing, he always emerged from his travels – organised by his parents – unscathed.
Tony, from Teignmouth in Devon, said: ”I have proved that nothing – not even disabilities – can stop you living a full life.
”Travelling is more than just seeing the beautiful scenery or landscape with your eyes. It concerns using all the body’s senses.
”It is being able to engage with people, feeling different textures, eating unknown foods and hearing new kinds of music, being exposed to an alternative, exciting culture and emerging into another country’s qualities, and to return home knowing more than I did before I left.
”I can travel blind because of four things – confidence, wanting to travel, good mobility skills and good planning. That’s all anyone needs.”
Tony caught the travelling bug in 2000 when he flew to America on an exchange trip while reading American Studies at Northampton University.
He had previously visited various European countries with family and friends but had never ventured out alone before.
But during his exchange trip he went to New Orleans on his own for a week – and hasn’t looked back since.
After arriving back in Britain he booked a trip to Prague and set off the following year on his first big backpacking tour, taking in Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand over five months.
In 2004 he travelled around Latin America and Africa and the following year he completed a six-week tour of Europe.
In the last three years he has visited more European countries as well as Sri Lanka, Canada, The USA and Morocco.
Tony, who is currently in Turkey, added: ”I can feel my surroundings. I get a sense of space. If I go up a mountain I can feel the air squeeze. If I’m in a town, the energy and the space changes.
”What hearing I have is acute, even though I’ve lost 80 per cent of it. I’ve trained my hearing, and for me beauty is also the sound of the sea and the sound of the wind.
”And then of course there’s the feel of the wind and the energy that comes from it, as well as walking on rugged territory.”
Despite his intrepid nature, Tony, who was born blind and went to a school for the visually impaired aged 10, says there are times when his lack of sight is a hindrance.
But that has not stopped him from from visiting the furthest corners of the globe and even taking part in extreme sports.
Tony, who reads Braille, has skydived three times, white-water rafted and even bungey-jumped off a number of bridges in New Zealand and Australia.
”The adventure sports were crazy,” he said. ”When I was white-water rafting I couldn’t anticipate when the bumps were going to come but I just learned to go with it.
”I’ve done three sky dives now and I can remember the first vividly. It was better than sex.
”I have also jumped 14,000ft and I remember sweating like a pig when I was sitting in the plane.”
Tony claims that his sense of smell has let him experience the beauty of the four corners of the earth.
He said: ”My favourite places so far are Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, Cuba and New Zealand. Getting to places is a challenge but that adds to the beauty.”
Tony has now released a book about his travels entitled Seeing The World My Way.
TONY’S TIMELINE OF TRAVELS:
*August 1992 – Greece
*April 1994 – France
*1995 – America
*August 1998 – Germany, America
*2000 – Belgium, Netherlands, America
*April 2001 – Republic of Ireland
*October 2001 – Australia, New Zealand
*February 2002 – Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, America
*2003 – America, Germany
*January 2004 – Brazil
*February 2004 – Argentina, Uruguay, Canada
*March 2004 – Chile
*May 2004 – Cuba, Mexico
*September 2004 – Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland
*November – Zambia, Zimbabwe
*December 2004 – Malawi, America
*January 2005 – South Africa, Malawi
*September 2005 – Hungary, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria,
*October 2005 – Poland, Netherlands, Germany
*2006 – America
*February 2006 -Northern Ireland, Italy
*January 2007 – Scotland
*March 2007 – Ireland
* April 2007 – Canada
*April-June 2007 – USA
*August-September 2007 – Scotland
*September 2007 – Germany
*October 2007 – Iceland
*October-November 2007 – Sri Lanka
*December-January 2007-2008 – Spain
*January 2008 – Gibraltar
*February 2008 – Morocco, Norway
*January 2008 – Portugal
*February 2008 – Morocco, Norway
*March 2008 – Canada
*March-April 2008 – USA
*April 2008 – Switzerland
*October 2008- Sweden, Denmark, Norway
*November 2008 Finland, Estonia
*July 2009 – Spain
*July-August 2009 – Germany
*August 2009 – Belgium, Luxembourg, Turkey, Germany
*October 2009 – Turkey
*November 2009 – Greece, Greek Islands
*December 2009 – United States of America
*January 2010 – United States of America
*January 2010 – Greece
*May 2010- Macedonia
*April 2010 – Greece
*June 2010 – Bulgaria, Serbia
*July 2010 – Serbia, Scotland
*October 2010 – Turkey
Tony Giles’ new book is called SEEING THE WORLD MY WAY and is available to order from most bookshops, and online, as well as via the publisher: http://www.silverwoodbooks.com/my-way.
The RNIB have selected the book for transcription into Braille.