Travelling for the partially sighted; contacts or glasses?

Contacts or glasses for travelling? All of you strutting around with your perfect 20:20 vision may not understand the importance of this one, but as a full-time glasses wearer, please believe me when I say it is a big deal. I need help to see things that are far away. While my vision is not too bad, I like it to be perfect whenever possible so I always wear glasses in day-to-day life and usually when I’m travelling, too. Besides, who wants to stare across the river to the Budapest parliament building and see a bit of a blur?

This might not sound like much of a problem. ‘Just wear your glasses then and get on with it,’ I hear someone cry. But sadly it’s not that simple because prime travelling time is during summer, which is when the sun is brightest. And there’s one thing here that we can all agree on – sunglasses on top of glasses are just not the one. So, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be gifted with perfect eyesight have two choices; squinting or blurriness.

It’s a battle that I waged war with regularly, but now I can finally say I have a solution.



I tried these little devils in the summer of 2014 when I went to work at Walt Disney World for three glorious summer months. Rather than spending the whole time squinting or missing out on the beauty of the Cinderella Castle, I decided to try contacts.

We hated one another at first. I couldn’t get to grips with sticking my finger into my eye, but once I’d found a method that worked for me (and involved minimal eyeball poking) it worked out really well.

Feeling hot and sweaty in Magic Kingdom, but with perfect vision thanks to contacts

Feeling hot and sweaty in Magic Kingdom, but with perfect vision thanks to contacts

The only downside was that after having contacts in for over 15 hours my eyes would start to ache. I even bought extra-hydrating daily lenses to try and stop this, but I still kept them in for too long for my eyes to cope (and I didn’t really want to take them out in a public toilet halfway through the day). So while contacts meant I could enjoy different sunglasses while still being able to see everything, it wasn’t perfect. Plus I could never quite relax until I’d taken them out for the day; what if they got stuck? What if I forgot I had them in and fell asleep? I was constantly worrying about a trip to the ominous eye doctor.


Staying with regular frames

Say hello to squinty face. To avoid the horror of the sunglasses-over-glasses scenario, this method involves trying not to look at the sun and forget that it’s so bright it hurts to open your eyes. At the age of 21, I have fine-lines appearing on my forehead and I mostly blame that on my squinty face during the summer. It’s really not worth it.

I realised that this method was no longer permissible when I was at the Grand Canyon. Obviously I wanted my glasses to fully appreciate how amazing the scenery was, but it was also a very hot and sunny August day. Seeing only one solution in sight, I put my sunglasses over my glasses and walked around looking like the world’s biggest idiot. Never again.

Happy (but also slightly blind) at the Grand Canyon

Happy (but also slightly blind) at the Grand Canyon


React-o-light glasses

If you’re a regular opticians visitor you’ll know what these are, but for anyone else, they’re basically glasses lenses that go dark from the UV rays outside, and go back to clear inside. Sounds perfect, right?

Well, they do cost a lot more than regular lenses. Plus, don’t walk into too many dark rooms after being in the sun because they take about ten minutes to go back to their regular colour. This could result in walking into walls and tripping over small children. Use with care.


Prescription sunglasses

This is it. My solution. Like all of the other methods mentioned, it still has its drawbacks and this one stems from having to change from dark glasses to light glasses when stepping inside. But it removes the threat of falling over an erratically moving toddler in a dark room, and also waves goodbye to squinty face.

Most opticians offer 50% off sunglasses when you buy a regular pair, so it could be a good investment. It’s my summer eye look of choice for 2016. I’ll let you know how I get on. I think you might need to wish me luck.


Do you wear glasses or contacts? What do you do on holiday? Or are you someone with perfect vision who now realises how lucky they are? 

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  1. February 28, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    I’ve only just started using contact lenses, so this was an interesting read! I’ve always struggled with glasses on holiday and just squinting, but this time I’ve got myself some prescription sunglasses to use! The plan is to use those during the day, and contacts for the evenings haha! I’ve never been a fan of those reacting glasses – they just change at odd times occasionally!

  2. February 28, 2016 / 11:04 pm

    Ooh, that’s a really good idea. If you plan on doing any napping, swimming or long days out then glasses are definitely the answer. Yes! I was so close to buying the reacting glasses but something put me off and I’m so glad it did now I have my lovely prescription sunglasses ? Thanks for your comment!