Sightseeing without sight through Cocky Guides

by Janeece Keller

Imagine what it’s like to travel on a tour with a vision impairment. Many tours rely on presenting destinations through sightseeing – a typical tour has multiple lookouts, fast-paced itineraries and a large group. This travel style lacks engagement for a vision-impaired traveller, so it’s no wonder most vision-impaired travellers rely on family and friends to travel with them (or possibly don’t travel at all). While holidays with family and friends are fun, sometimes you may have a specific interest or want to discover a destination in depth and with new people.

Cocky Guides is an Australian tour operator providing unique multi-sensory small-group adventures for the blind and low-vision community. Each adventure is designed for travellers who are active and competent with mobility using either a cane, guide dog or a companion as a sighted guide. Every trip offers discounts for companions and trip leaders are experienced to ensure that everyone feels safe, supported and included.

Here are our tips for blind or low-vision travellers.

1. Choose the right itinerary

An itinerary with many touch and taste experiences will be more engaging and stimulating than one filled with sightseeing alone. Cocky Guides looks for small family run farmgate and cellar-door tours, which have a more personal approach for guests.

2. Ask questions about comfort and safety

When selecting a tour, ask about the accommodation, food and activity providers that will be used. This will allow you to check customer reviews of each business independently to ensure peace of mind. You should also ask how long the tour operator has been working with these businesses. In many cases, the length of the relationship will indicate the strength of their bond and ability to work together to cater for specific needs or requests.

3. Travel in small groups

Travellers with a vision impairment benefit from small groups for many reasons, including:

  • access to the trip leader
  • less background noise
  • ease of getting to know everyone
  • the opportunity to participate in authentic local experiences
  • less time hopping on and off the bus, which means more time at your destination

4. Think about support

Consider the type of support you will require, particularly in new environments. Some questions you might want to ponder include:

  • Are the activities, location, weather and terrain suitable for your guide dog or cane use?
  • Does the tour operator provide any additional support?
  • Are there discounts for companions?

Visit the Cocky Guides website to see the diverse range of itineraries offered or call 1300 657 640 with any questions or requests for tailormade group trips. 

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