It’s been more or less a year (feels like forever) since quarantine protocols were implemented on a global scale to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. And since then (depending on which country you live in), odds are you’re still stuck at home with only Netflix and Animal Crossing to sustain your sanity.
As you look through your past trip photos, you must be craving to go to a great beach, to walk within a historical museum and to lounge inside an airport terminal for your next flight. And although it's looking like most of us will be staying inside at least for a while longer, we have the wonders of virtual travel to fill that wanderlust void until we can start safely going to airports again.
In this article, I’ll be providing a list of websites and VR videos that’ll (hopefully) give you a travel experience to remember and help quench your wanderlust!
1. Drive and Listen
Personally, I think of all the websites and videos that I’ll be sharing, nothing comes closer to that traveling experience better than the Drive & Listen website/app. I highly recommend this!
As best explained by Dr. Brian Foster, “the app allows you to take a virtual drive through more than 50 cities around the world while listening to real-time local radio and the sounds of street life as you go. It’s like Google Street View, but the virtual reality version, and you don’t have to click to move.”
From how I see it, the whole appeal of Drive & Listen is that it mimics or gives the sensation of what it’s like to commute or travel from one place to another in a country you’re visiting. Using the public transportation system of any city comprises a big bulk of how I travel, so you can understand why I love this website so much!
What really puts me in that traveling headspace is not only seeing another city’s unique architecture, but also actually observing ‘slices of life’ moments from the passersby and pedestrians on the sidewalk.
And the foreign radio and street noise only add to that surreal experience that you’re somehow somewhere completely different than from where you actually are. It is surprisingly more calming and soothing than you might expect!
Have a look or shall I say, ride along?
2. Prefer Walking, Instead?
We got you, CityWalks allows you to walk, wander and explore the streets of 90 cities around the world. You can toggle between pre-COVID or during COVID period, day or night and add in the city noises for added immersion. It’s an awesome POV look into what a normal walk in the world’s biggest/smallest cities (that we might’ve taken for granted) are like, without even leaving your chair.
You can even join scheduled Group Walks and chat with random travelers as well.
On a more serious note, selecting “In Her Shoes” gives you a look into what women face on a constant basis, even in simple everyday situations like a simple walk on the street. It’s a great feature that makes people aware of the casual sexism that women all around the world routinely face.
3. Look Outside Someone’s Window
Somewhat similar to the previous two, WindowSwap allows you to look outside someone’s window for 10 minutes from locations all across the globe. Take in the magnificent views and immerse yourself in your surroundings. I like to think of it as looking out of a window of the Airbnb you booked for your trip.
If you’re bored, click on one button and you’ll find yourself looking out another window from another part of the globe. You’ll be surprised what view will be waiting for you on the other side! (I even got lucky once and was looking out the window of a moving train!)
If you’re up for a challenge, you can even submit your own window by recording an HD horizontal video of your view for 10 minutes!
4. VR Experiences
Now, if you want a more immersive hands-free adventure, pop up your Google Cardboard or similar mobile VR headset and get ready for a ton of virtual experiences to live through!
There are a lot of HD VR travel experiences at the tips of your fingers (most of these videos are easily accessible through Youtube). For your convenience, here’s a list of video links I’ve compiled and what experience you can expect from each, feel free to click and enjoy!
- I want to swim with the sharks!
- I want to explore Antartica’s snow caves!
- I want to explore Japan!
- I want to go on a safari in South Africa!
- I want to visit Paris!
- I want to go scuba-diving in the Caribbean!
- I want to take a tour of Switzerland!
- I want to go around London!
- I want to see Mount Everest from a helicopter!
- I want to explore the glow-worm caves of New Zealand!
- I want to hit the ski slopes of Canada!
- I want to see the Niagara Falls up close!
- I want to go to Hawaii!
- And last, but not least! I want to go into space!
- Check out these 3D virtual tours to 30 iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites by GoogleEarth!
And these are just a few of what is available online, so feel free to keep exploring and learning about the awesome places!
Living in quarantine protocols has been tough on all of us, but we hope these awesome websites and virtual travel experiences help pump you up for the next time borders reopen for travel!
While you’re here, check out MiTravel: we’re a small team trying to reimagine how group travel planning is done. Check this link to see how we envision the future for group travel and sign-up to join our waitlist. We will be launching the MiTravel Planning Board this summer!
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