King credits her spirit of adventure to her mother. “My mom used to take us on spontaneous road trips. We never knew where we were going, and I loved that,” she says. As a teenager, King yearned to venture outside her hometown of Boise, Idaho, and began booking tickets to faraway destinations such as China, Brazil, India, Russia and Mauritius. She never let anything hold her back.
Born without hearing, King relies primarily on her ability to lip-read, and uses her hearing aid to help understand conversations better. She’s travelled to 31 countries and five continents. Along the way, her iPad has become an indispensable sidekick. “Even simple things like overhead announcements at airports are hard for me to pick up,” says King. “So I’ve missed flights because I didn’t hear about a gate change. Now I use apps on my iPad to see notifications of flight changes.” King uses multiple apps — from travel guides to maps to language and translation apps — to connect with people and explore every destination to the full. “iPad is one of my essential travel tools,” says King.
But King isn’t content to see the beauty of the world for herself. She knows there’s always something new to discover and experience. That’s why she’s just as passionate about sharing her travels. She keeps her network of friends up to date through her site, Flight of the Travel Bee, and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
King hopes that by chronicling her experiences, she can be an example for other hearing-impaired people. “I’ve met countless deaf people, and they all tell me how brave I am for travelling. But now that they’ve read my site, they realise they can do it too.”
From Beijing to St Petersburg, King has wandered down winding streets, pulling up Maps whenever she needs to find her way again. Since most people don’t sign, and King can only understand English, she relies on the local language captions on Maps to show taxi drivers exactly where she needs to go.
When she doesn’t have a destination in mind, King uses iPad apps like AroundMe and tripwolf to discover nearby places. This way, King feels free to navigate every corner of a new city and venture off the beaten path to explore hole-in-the-wall eateries and sample the best com tam in town, or join a pickup game of jianzi in Hoan Kiem Lake. “iPad is my travelling companion and my guide,” she says. “It always helps me discover interesting things I wouldn’t know about otherwise.”
To King, there’s an incredible discovery waiting at every turn, and her iPad helps her the whole way through. She can stop for a chat at a neighbourhood cafe using BabelDeck and other communication apps on iPad. She’ll turn to the Triposo app on iPad to create walking tours of a new city. And during the inevitable down periods and waiting times at airports, in hotels or on a plane, King watches closed-captioned films and TV programmes from iTunes, keeps in touch with family and friends using FaceTime and iMessage, or jots down ideas for her next post using Notes. When she returns home, she uses WordPress to write and publish her latest travel tale.
Long before she set out on her own, King felt that behind every journey was the potential to discover something new about herself and the world. She believes that more and more with every trip. “I love travelling to different places. You never know who you’ll meet, and how that might change you,” she says. “iPad has allowed me to become a more adventurous and spontaneous traveller. And I’m just getting started.”
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam