WE'RE CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE THE WORLD
“I’m the blind guy who
wants to show you the world!”
Firstly, welcome to Traveleyes! We believe that travel is more than just the seeing of sights. It is a world of new experiences which cannot be captured in a photograph. We take groups of students around the world to experience new cultures, learn new skills and increase knowledge alongside visually impaired travellers.
We’re all about changing perspectives and how we interpret the world around us. Our trips involve real responsibility as students act as sighted guides for visually impaired travellers. Traveleyes don’t just offer trips, we offer rich travel experiences that build confidence and strong English language acquisition.
Sighted students help us make the world a more accessible place by guiding and describing the sights to our blind travellers. Futhermore, our life-changing experiences naturally combine with curriculum requirements such as CAS.
Travel is more than just the seeing of sights, and when we start looking with our other senses, the world becomes more alive. That’s how Traveleyes is changing the way we see the world.
Growing up, I was always passionate about travel. But as a young boy, doctors broke the news to my parents that I would become permanently blind.
By the age of 19 I had lost 95% of my sight. Yet I knew that beyond the mist that surrounded me, was a world just waiting to be discovered. I launched Traveleyes in 2004, with the determination to make the world a more accessible place for blind and visually impaired people, experiencing the world with all 5 of our senses.
Soon after this, my Father met a teacher from the Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA), Hong Kong, in a restaurant in Glasgow. Being the proud father that he was, it wasn’t long until the conversation led to Traveleyes and the idea to combine school trips with the Traveleyes experience was born.
Our first trip to Prague and Vienna in 2013 saw 20 students from VSA guiding 6 visually impaired travellers, Traveleyes received the highest rated feedback and we now lead school trips for schools all over the world.
I chose to take a different approach to travel. Many others have chosen this way since, and return to us time and time again. I hope this brochure inspires you to do the same, because as you share your sight, together we can share the adventure.
Our tour manager and visually impaired travellers will meet you at your chosen destination ready to share the adventure. We welcome groups of at least 12 students from year 10 and above with accompanying teachers.
Once we’re all together, your Traveleyes tour manager will provide a welcome briefing and sighted guide training. Throughout the trip, your tour manager will ensure the smooth running of all activities and be your primary point of contact.
In our morning briefings, your tour manager will pair 2 students with a different blind traveller each day. Swapping partners daily means that each traveller gets to know everyone else within the group. Blind travellers will tell their sighted partner how much they can see, and how they like to be guided. Then it’s off to explore!
Our trips are hand made by our expert team. We first discuss your school’s requirements, expectations and budget for the trip. We have the expertise to advise different suitable destinations as well as the flexibility to tailor and suggest a programme that fits your budget. We endeavour to include as much as we can at the best possible value.
On a typical trip we’ll include all accommodation costs, meals, excursions, local guides and tour manager. It’s our job to make the organisation of a school trip as smooth as possible for our accompanying teachers.
You don’t need any experience of blindness to travel with us. All our blind travellers are completely independent and don’t need any additional assistance. The role of a sighted guide does not go beyond guiding and describing sights. Our expert tour managers will offer support whenever needed.
How does Traveleyes incorporate the CAS programme?
Traveleyes School trips are a natural fit with CAS
Share your vision as you explore exciting destinations. Describing sights and surroundings develops the image in your partners’ mind and also creates a lasting memory in your own mind as you take the time to absorb and share your surroundings.
Whether cooking Italian food in the Tuscan countryside, hiking to dinosaur fossil sites in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco or undertaking traditional farm activities on a rural homestead in Transylvania you’ll find all our tours include plenty of hands-on and sensory action.
Each activity is planned for sighted students and visually impaired travellers to take on as a team.
is a fundamental feature of our trips as students share their vision with their visually impaired partners. Describing the sights as we explore new destinations, guiding their partner over rough terrain on walks and assisting with general day-to-day life as we make travel accessible for visually impaired people who would otherwise be unable to travel.
Ultimately, not only will the students vastly improve their communication and collaboration skills as each day they face the challenge of guiding a different visually impaired traveller around a new destination, but they will gain a new-found confidence and discover new skills that will enrich their later lives. The students will develop a worldly view as they mix with adults from other cultures and help create lasting memories not only for themselves but for our visually impaired travellers.
Find out what teachers and students have to say
On the first day of Project Week, 17 DP1 students took part in a day of team building and training whilst our seven visually impaired guests from the UK embarked on a journey from London to Maastricht with their two sighted guides.
This marked the culmination of months of student led fundraising from bake sales to a juggling workshop to pyjama movie nights along with some very generous donations from our community (thank you!)
The time had come for the inaugural UWCM Traveleyes trip to take place. A truly authentic service opportunity for our UWCM students to act as the sighted guides for visually impaired people (VIPs) as part of their city break in the area. The initiative of Amar Latif, the founder of Traveleyes, a travel agency for the blind. From a linguistics point of view it was also an amazing opportunity for our ELL students to describe the world to a VIP, who in turn took on the role of a personal English coach!
Our slightly nervous students gave hotel room orientations and navigated the buffet with their slightly hesitant VIP buddy but the ice was soon broken as laughter, confidence and common ground was found.
Our VIPs were all working professionals with a keen interest in the lives of our students and vice versa. This healthy curiosity set the tone for the entire trip. The students and their VIP buddies walked side by side for four days. They kneaded dough together at the Bisschopsmolen, ate meals together, explored Maastricht, learnt phrases in each other’s languages, felt the marble walls of Aachen Dom, touched the bronze maquettes of the key city sights and listened to one of our VIPs read German in braille! Such a range of sensory experiences was enough to secure some very genuine connections. Our final evening found us in the atrium with two VIPs and Johannes strumming along on their guitars playing songs on our request.
As we bid our farewells the following morning it was safe to conclude that each one of us had been touched by this unique experience. As an educational venture, yes, we had met the expectations of an authentic service and language learning project. On a human level, it had been a moving series of very special moments between a group of resilient and open minded people of all ages, abilities and origins.
“For the students on the trip, the need to guide through verbal cues and explanations meant continuous language use and rapid vocabulary expansion. As native English speakers, the VIPs facilitated this language acquisition and gave one-on-one English support. Students also developed a service mindset through the responsibility of caring for a VIP each day, and learned valuable planning and executive skills while fundraising for the trip itself. In return, the VIPs experienced Italy through the intercultural eyes of our students, while learning from their stories, their unique cultural perspectives and their experience of a UWC education – fostering mutual respect, understanding and empathy.”
“For me it was an experience that really had an impact on me and how I think about perceptions. It was not only about English development but learning about a different form of diversity. It was the first time I had interacted with VIPs and I was amazed because they used their senses and I learnt about how they interpreted the world. I became more aware that eyes are not the only sense we can use to experience the world. It became like a ToK (Theory of Knowledge) lesson!”
“This Travel Eyes trip to Paris was really great. I feel like I learnt so much from interacting with visually impaired people and getting to know each and every one of them was really fun and interesting. During the trip, we were lucky enough to see almost all of Paris’ touristic monuments and places.
I think this trip was really good since I feel like I learnt so much in just four days. The fact that we were always describing our surroundings made me really aware of what is around me and made me appreciate the city so much more. I noticed all the little details and the beauty of Paris. Although I had lived there for eight years of my life, I had never actually noticed the amount of details there is everywhere. Meeting the VIPs was also really great since I met people with really interesting stories and different backgrounds; I had all sorts of eye opening conversations that informed me on something I had no idea about before. I would definitely do this trip again since, not only was it eye opening, but I also met really great people that I would love to see again.”
“The trip was a lot more rewarding this way as it wasn’t a trip in which I obsessed over taking constant pictures without really taking everything in. Being with visually impaired people actually helped me see the city better than had I been with sighted people alone.”
“Last weekend was the time we went to guide visually impaired people (VIPs) around Paris. This experience without a doubt was one of the most incredible, eye-opening, and enjoyable experiences of my life.
It really made me think about how so many people on this earth have similar difficulties as the amazing group of people I met and how people are so quick to judge or rush past them on the streets. After getting to know each and every one of them the way I did I can’t help but think about how if everybody in the world would lend a helping hand to somebody with a such a small difference as the VIPs there would be so much less hate in the world.”
“Having gone to the traveleye’s trip was an experience unlike any I’ve had before, going into the trip I expected to be assisting and aiding ‘disabled’ people. I believe this idea created implications with my perception towards the blind or even ‘conventionally disabled’. Throughout the trip, although I did assist the visually impaired people with tasks which seem menial, I realized that all the visually impaired people who I assisted were highly capable individuals. In all honesty, they made me seem like the more incapable one. Even with a lack of vision, these people were all filled with energy and curiosity for every activity we partook in. The Visually impaired people were an example of what willpower and determination can help you overcome, even if you lose something which is deemed as ‘essential’ to your survival. The visually impaired who I assisted shared life experiences with me, taught me about their perspectives and showed me that making the best out of a negative situation is always possible. frankly, in my eyes, these people who I was meant to be assisting ended up being the ones who helped me. They’ve taught me to make the best out of any situation, even the most scary and imposing one’s. The Visually impaired people even showed me how love is devoid of any physical or materialistic things, with blind couples and visually impaired people with significant others, I realized that the superficial appearances which we glorify are ultimately meaningless. These lessons among others are ones which I will treasure and take with me for my whole life.
Traveleyes was an incredibly fulfilling experience for me, along with being able to help the visually impaired enjoy their holiday was only the surface of the experience. I ended up leaving with life lessons I’ll never forget.”
“Describing the Mona Lisa was by far the point that both challenged me the most and that I enjoyed the most. It was just me with my VIP, so I felt a bit of pressure to get it right. We got some advice at the beginning of the day to start with the general and then draw focus into the specifics. I started with the overall greenish-olive hue of the painting, describing the murky background, then I began talking about the brightness of her chest and hands, the contrast, the style of the Mona Lisa’s eyes, the edges of her jawline, and the frame itself. When we got even closer to the painting than the normal crowds were permitted, I could see a lot more of the background and began focusing my descriptions on the trees, the river, the faint red undertones, and the folds of her sleeves. I also wanted to convey the initial underwhelming smallness of the painting, as well as the famous experience of her “following” eyes, which were dark and painted in a simpler, more casual style compared to other painted eyes in the gallery room.”
“This is the most meaningful trip I have ever been to. I was quite nervous about being a sighted guide in the beginning but as we got to know the visually impaired, we became friends and that made our job much easier. At first, I thought we were the ones giving them help, turns out they offered us a lot more. We learnt from them how we should use our other senses to feel the world around us, by hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, and to use our imagination to the fullest. This is the way to travel.”
“I am a School Principal and I have accompanied the students on two Traveleyes trips, one to Tuscany and the second to Andalucía in Southern Spain. I have loved both trips and as an educational experience for our students they have been amazing. Our students have acted as guides and shown an impressive dedication to the task, training before they go and committed to doing everything they can for their vi’s. There is always a wonderful group atmosphere and the bonding by the end is incredible. Students are still in contact with the vi’s they met on those trips and have even arranged their own visits to their homes. There are always tears when we say goodbye at the end of the holiday. All in all two wonderful experiences for everybody involved.”
“If you ask me what I learned the most from this trip, I’d say it is the sense of responsibility; the feeling that somebody is giving me full trust and depending entirely on my guidance as they walk on foreign roads, and that I am the one with the ability to help them see all the beautiful places. The satisfaction from making them smile and say ‘that’s beautiful’ at something they cannot see for themselves is just indescribable.”
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