There is something about travel that is just irresistible. Perhaps it’s the experience of being able to see things you’d never find in your own backyard, often up close and personal. Maybe it’s the wonder of being exposed to other cultures and people whose ways of life differ vastly from your own. Maybe you’re an adrenaline junkie who enjoys thrill-seeking while you travel. No matter what you love travel, if you love it at all you were probably devastating when the COVID-19 pandemic prohibited travel not only across the world but in many cases across the country. This would have been especially devastating and alarming if you had a trip planned. Right now, although vaccines are currently being distributed it could be a long time before people are able to enjoy themselves and travel as they once did. For most people, risking a trip is not only too dangerous in terms of their health, but their wallets as well. The last thing you want is to invest in a trip only to find that your accommodations are no longer available due to a shutdown and you’re unable to get a refund.
Fortunately, there is an alternative to traditional vacationing, and it is virtual tourism travel! While that might seem a little odd to you at first, you’ll quickly discover that it’s becoming more normalized. You see, you’re not the only one who is suffering because the tourism industry has shut down recently. Certainly, so too are those that have made a living off of tourism. Travel used to be a major industry with a global reach. Although around 27% of all travelers chose to travel on the day before Thanksgiving typically, there were plenty of people traveling throughout the year and spending a lot of money as they did. Right now, tourist destinations are struggling, and need to find a way to both publicize their destinations and in some cases make some money as well. Virtual tourism travel experiences allow them to do that. Some experiences already existed before the pandemic and are more simple, while others are newer and are truly elaborate. So there’s no need for you to get down about being stuck in your house. Let’s explore some of the virtual travel experiences that you can try!
1. Visit Famous Landmarks
Maybe you want to start small and begin your virtual tourism travel experiences with something more basic; although by basic, we certainly don’t mean that you’re not going to enjoy it! We simply all have some famous landmarks that we’d like to see to cross off our bucket lists, and even if you’re an avid traveler you may not have the time or budget to visit them all in person in the near future. So, to stave off your quarantine blues, why don’t you make a list of some of the famous landmarks you’d like to see and check out whether or not they can be visited virtually? You might be surprised by how many are available.
For one thing, there is the Sistine Chapel. The centerpiece of Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel can actually be viewed through seven different tours. The great thing about viewing the chapel virtually is that you can get a really great look at all of the artwork without having to crane your neck back to see it. If you prefer a bit of the English experience, you can take a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace, where four of the Queen’s official rooms are on display. Those that missed out on their ability to take a holy pilgrimage due to the pandemic can still see the holy city of Jerusalem through a virtual tourism travel experience, with 360-degree views of the city. While a lot of virtual tours are pre-filmed, the CN Tower overlooking Downtown Toronto actually offers a live stream, so you can see exactly what is going on below you. You’ll be hoisted up to grand heights through the live stream as well, hovering 1,815 feet above the ground. If you’re not afraid of heights, you may also want to take a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China. Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, and Petra among other places are also home to some amazing virtual tours. While it may not be exactly like the real thing, these tours are certainly a lot less expensive and at this moment much safer. You can get an idea of what you want to visit when you see the cities, and how to turn your eventual trip into a truly special event.
2. Experience The Great Outdoors (Indoors)
Right now, you may not necessarily be able to take that amazing hiking trip that you were planning on. But while a virtual tourism travel experience may not be what you initially had in mind, there are actually some advantages to consider. For one thing, you won’t necessarily have to risk the weather issues that come with visiting and especially camping out in a national park. For another thing, you won’t have to worry about your car breaking down as you drive through. It’s hard to find auto repair services in the middle of nowhere, after all. Fortunately, there are plenty of different outdoor experiences to be had when you’re traveling virtually.
Think about how much time and money would be spent on getting you to Australia. Instead, you can simply visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park virtually. This virtual tour is known for the way that it features traditional songs and stories from Anangu. The traditional owners of the land, Anangu add a bit of cultural education to your virtual tourism travel experience. Should you like to travel to a location that you’re perhaps somewhat more familiar with, Yosemite National Park now offers virtual tours. These offer amazing views atop the Diving Board, as well remarkable 360-degree sights of the Sierra Nevada mountains. If you’d like to trek to Machu Picchu, there is a one-hour virtual tour of the Inca Trail. Not only does this give you an idea of what the experience would be like; it also allows you to do so in a way that is much safer for you, and for that matter much less tiring. Plus, you won’t even have to hire pet sitter services! Of course, if you’d like there are still live virtual travel experiences to be had. There is a Northern Lights live stream broadcasting from Northern Canada. Although there is no guarantee that you will be able to see the northern lights, if you tune in at the right time you could see this amazing natural phenomenon for yourself. Finally, there are there Carlsbad Caverns, which not only offer amazing sights of their caverns but give you a tour guided by a park ranger. This way, you don’t have to miss out on any aspect of the trip that you would have had.
3. Virtual Shows
Right now, you may simply be missing the atmosphere of being around a lot of people while live entertainment is happening. Well, unfortunately, these are exactly the kinds of conditions that cause the spread of COVID-19. As such, it may be a while before live entertainment returns to the capacity that it was at before; though don’t worry, it will return. But just because you can’t visit the same crowded space as you would typically doesn’t mean that live entertainment isn’t happening. Performers have to eat too, you know. There are some benefits to this type of setup too. Rather than having to worry about hailing a cab after watching live entertainment at pubs or wineries, you can drink while watching a live show on your TV or computer, relaxing and enjoying your evening.
A lot of these shows will really be up to your individual preference, and you’ll need to track them down for yourself. For example, a lot of comedians are hosting live comedy shows, even from across the pond. The comediennes and podcast hosts Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Rachel Fairburn, hosts of the popular All Killa No Filla podcast, have been hosting live shows for viewers across the country. A lot of these types of shows also involve some degree of participation from the audience, creating a sense of connection even while you’re stuck at home. If comedy shows aren’t really your thing, there are some smaller theater companies offering live shows as well. You may also want to consider signing up for BroadwayHD if you’re a real music theater fan. However, Broadway isn’t necessarily the only type of show this streaming service offers. Shakespeare is also available, among other types of theater shows. Although they aren’t performed live for you, they’ll certainly feel live. You can also try a free seven-day trial to see if the service is worth it to you. While you’ll need to pay for these types of shows, you can know that your virtual tourism travel experience dollars are going to the worthy causes of keeping live shows alive, and ensuring that the entertainers that put these shows on are able to stay at their jobs and keep their roofs over their heads. Plus, you won’t need to worry about paying for dog or cat boarding services while you’re away from home seeing a Broadway show!
4. Experience Wildlife Virtually
If you’re an animal lover, virtual tourism travel experiences could be perfect for you even after the pandemic subsides. It feels like every year we hear new stories about zoo animals giving birth and having live streams record the whole event, with the public waiting with bated breath until the new baby joins the world. This kind of social media frenzy has led to many zoos and wildlife parks, farms, and sanctuaries to set up their own live streams. This allows people to learn about and connect with the animals. This is obviously a lot safer and more ethical than going on an unsavory safari, and you can carefully select programs you want to support. A lot of the time, this is a great way for nonprofit sanctuaries to drum up support from the public as well.
Now, where to go? Well, The Cincinnati Zoo became rather famous over the past few years for the story of Fiona, perhaps the world’s most adorable hippo. Born premature, Fiona was carefully raised by zookeepers and beat the odds. She is now a happy and healthy hippo, and she and other animals can be seen on the zoo’s Facebook page live stream. They host a special Home Safari live stream that focuses on one animal per day, adding some education to your enjoyment. If you’re looking for something a little more lowkey and comforting during these trying times, you might like Beekman 1802’s Farm, where their baby goats take center stage for a relaxing virtual tourism travel experience. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, on the other hand, is the perfect place to experience live streams of sea life. Although there are 10 different live streams for you to choose from, the Moon Jelly Cam is particularly relaxing. Of course, there’s always the classic David Attenborough virtual tour of the Great Barrier Reef to enjoy.
At the end of the day, it is annoying that we can’t travel as we used to right now. Remember that travel will return, and try your best not to be down about the fact that it’s not available right now. It’s also important to try to keep perspective. You can still enjoy so many virtual tourism travel experiences, from taking Segway tours through Italian cities to hiking over the Great Wall of China.
Think of taking these types of tours rather than going on your usual trips as a type of public service. You’re helping other people, and you’re doing the right thing. But at the same time, you can still have a great deal of fun. So why not book a virtual trip to the Taj Mahal and start kicking off your next adventure from home?