They say that travel sharpens the senses. It makes every small detail noticeable and every tiny experience an adventure. It magnifies each event to epic proportions, involves all your senses and makes you feel so much more. But if one of your senses were impaired, would it mean that travel wouldn’t be as rewarding? Divya Saxena and Ritu Sinha aim to bust this myth with Bat Travels – a company that organizes tours that offer a sensory delight for the sighted and the visually impaired to experience together.
Divya and Ritu have been friends since they worked together in an advertising agency in Delhi. They later worked for different companies but still kept in touch and travelled together. Divya was working as an art director and Ritu as a copywriter when both travelled to Europe in the summer of 2017. On their last day of the trip, they came across a couple of visually impaired travellers who were negotiating their way around a popular sightseeing spot. Struck by the poignancy of the moment, they both started thinking of a way to make travel possible for the visually impaired.
By the close of the year, the duo organized their first tour for Bat Travels. The trip was to Kamshet, near Pune, and included the visually impaired and sighted people as travel pals.The highlight of the Kamshet trip was paragliding – an experience that was a noveltyboth for the sighted and more so for the visually impaired.
Bat Travels was thus born, and since its inception, it has been committed to making inclusive travel de rigueur and breaking prejudices and stereotypes in the process. The name of the company is self-explanatory.
Bat Travels has recently conducted a tour to Benaras and now Jim Corbett, Kashmir and Goa are on the agenda.
Each tour involves elaborate planning beforehand, something that Divya and Ritu take very seriously and do very thoroughly. They research every destination and make sure that they are easily accessible and navigable while being interesting at the same time. The itineraries that they plan are highly sensorial and they make sure that there is enough to engage both the sighted and the visually impaired.
They make sure that every experience is enhanced keeping in mind the different abilities of their tour members. A campfire is fed with eucalyptus to give it a unique fragrance, a river-camping experience is enhanced with a Sufi music concert – anything that can be done to involve senses other than sight is highlighted.
Bat Travels enables the visually impaired to travel with dignity. There is no fuss created over them and they’re treated fairly and naturally. The travel pals are provided literature and guided on how to ease into familiarity with the visually impaired. The tour involves fun activities like paragliding and beer tasting – activities that the visually impaired would not have had a chance at otherwise.
This is not just another travel company. It’s the new way of experiencing the world together.
For the sighted, to become a travel pal on a Bat Travels tour could be a life-altering experience. You will not only be going on an exciting trip, but you’ll be experiencing so much more in the process. When you describe scenery or a building to someone, you will definitely end up noticing more about it than you would have otherwise. In trying to take in all you can so that you can describe it better, you will be experiencing so much more than you would have if you were on an ordinary tour with friends.
Going on a tour with Bat Travels will not only mean disconnecting from your world; it will be a way to ‘see’ the world from a different point of view, a way to be more sensitive and aware. As the founders of Bat Travels put it, “It would make for a better society. And it is true for both the visually impaired and the sighted. That’s what inclusion is.”
Bat Travels is based in Mumbai.
Saw or experienced anything unusual and uncommon that you’d like to see covered here? Email your suggestions to email@example.com with a line or two, and we will publish with credit to you. Best suggestions win shopping vouchers!