I’m a full time travel blogger and a part time traveler. This means that I travel a lot, but I’m also used to working at home. I’m always craving travel and adventure, even though I spend many of my days at home. Sadly, right now many of us aren’t able to travel and it’s uncertain as to when we can return to it. Enter virtual travel experiences.
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If you’re someone who loves travel or who has postponed their trips, I’m sure you already have itchy feet by now. You might feel bored and a little disconnected from the rest of the world. Fear not, I’ve got some solutions for those of you with a strong sense of wanderlust. Here are some ways that you can see the world from your own home when you can’t get out there and travel.
There are lots of ways to see the world virtually from behind your computer screen. The Internet and new technologies allows us to view almost every destination imaginable, whether it’s a Google street view map or inside museums from around the world. We can view spectacular nature, learn about art and history, or take in some local cultural events. Traveling virtually is the next best thing to travel itself. And in many cases, it’s free and you can do so from your own home.
Virtual Museums Around the World
Do you love visiting museums when you travel around the world? Google Arts and Culture has teamed up with over 500 museums to display their collections. There are also nearly 5000 museums and archaeological sites worldwide that you can explore using Google Street View.
Beyond viewing the collections of museums online, several of them are allowing virtual tours of the museums themselves. It’s possible to virtually wander around the Guggenheim in New York City, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the British Museum in London. However, you’ll be exploring the collections of these museums from your own couch.
Beyond the Google Arts and Culture collections, many museums worldwide offer virtual tours. For instance, you can explore the Vatican Museums for free online. Take a virtual tour around the Smithsonian Natural Museum of History. Tour several exhibits of the Louvre, just as though you were actually in Paris itself. Is there a museum that ranks high on your bucket list? There’s a good chance that there could be a virtual travel experience before you visit in person.
The Corning Museum of Glass might be closed to the public, but their YouTube channel is open 24/7. You’ll find hours and hours of glassmaking content, including lists of live stream demos by past guest artists. You can browse their impressive collection online, also take a virtual tour through Google Arts and Culture.
Live Performances Online
Participating in new cultural experiences is one amazing reason to travel the world. Thankfully, you can enjoy the next best thing at home: live streams of cultural performances. For instance, the Metropolitan Opera had to cancel live performances, so you can catch nightly Met opera streams. The Seattle Symphony is offering free live broadcasts of their music until they can resume regular live performances.
Take a Virtual Safari
Ever been on an African safari? Now, you can experience a safari from home! SafariLIVE is broadcasting two safaris, twice daily, using Facebook live. You’ll be able to witness a safari from South Africa and learn all about the animals and plants with trained guides along the way.
Browse the Public Library Online
While you will likely have many books (including travel books) available to you from your own local public library, most of them have an online borrowing system, too. I also discovered that the New York Public Library has a digital collection of over 180,000 items in the public domain that you can access for free. Furthermore, anyone can apply for a library card online and borrow books for free using the NYPL’s e-reader app.
Virtual Cooking Classes
While it’s possible to take vegan cooking classes around the world (we took one in Ferrara, Italy!), including a vegan cooking class in Japan, a vegan cooking class in Mexico, and a vegan cooking class in Thailand, you can consider taking them online, too. Cooking classes are a wonderful virtual travel experience that allows you to learn about culture and cuisine right at home.
There’s a vegan cooking school called Veecoco, an online academy run by twins, Lucas and Samuel. At Veecoco, it’s possible to learn how to make authentic vegan Italian meals without flying to Italy. You can learn how to make vegan Japanese food (like sushi!) from your own home. You can also learn how to make mouthwatering Swiss chocolate, vegan Korean food, ramen, sushi, Thai food, Vietnamese food, and so many worldly favorites. In addition, you can learn how to make vegan cheese, raw dishes, vegan desserts, and many other delights. There’s a monthly membership fee that will grant you access to chef guided techniques and recipes.
There are also several fantastic paid vegan cooking classes on Udemy featuring international cuisine. Learn how to prepare plant-based Arab dishes from Chef Aseel. Here’s an introduction to the Yogic Diet, featuring Indian and Thai recipes. This isn’t a strictly vegan cooking class, but it’s all about cooking with spices, which can be applied to any meals that you choose to prepare.
Virtual Reality Travel Experiences
Some say that it’s the future of travel. If you own a virtual reality headset, like the Samsung Gear (works with Samsung smartphones), Google Daydream, or HTC Vive, you’re ready to start virtually wandering wherever your heart desires.
Experience the wonders of Google Earth from a virtual reality headset for a heightened realistic journey. It’s possible to soar above natural marvels or walk through city streets, putting the entire world within reach.
In addition, there’s a virtual simulation of climbing Mount Everest, released by Icelandic virtual reality studio, Solfar. Explore another incredible natural wonder, the Grand Canyon, by means of virtual reality. Conservation International has released several virtual reality films to promote the conservation of nature, including a trip to the Amazon rainforest, the depths of the ocean, an African safari, and more. Take these bucket list journeys while surviving the days of virtual travel only.
Travel the World with Google Maps
You don’t need a virtual reality headset to travel the world with Google Maps Street View! I use the street view option on Google Maps regularly to view city streets ahead of time, in attempts to find parking or even to check out a place visually ahead of time. However, you can travel the world by walking through the streets of any city or town virtually using street view.
Simply navigate to the place that you’d like to visit. Let’s say that you want to travel to Paris, France. Check out the street view surrounding any famous landmark, like the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Saunter down any narrow side streets surrounding the Eiffel Tower. I’m always surprised when you can walk into some of the buildings on street view, too. Who knows, your virtual street map wanderings might help you plan your actual travels to these destinations in the future, too.
Consume Travel Through Media
When you can’t travel and you’re travel obsessed, you’ll want to get your fix however you can. The best thing that tides me over between adventures are travel movies, TV shows, books and videos. Have a virtual travel experience through travel media.
Travel TV Shows Online
Caught the travel bug? Long before my days of travel blogging and world travel, I used to watch Departures on TV, featuring two fellow Canadians. Nowadays, there are so many travel TV shows and documentaries on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services. Some favorite travel series include Dark Tourist, Conan Without Borders, Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father, and all of the Anthony Bourdain shows.
Watch Inspiring Travel Movies
As for movies that inspire travel, well, there are just so many to watch. These aren’t necessarily travel documentaries or movies about travel, but movies set in a particular place that makes me want to go there. Some of my personal favorites include:
- Midnight in Paris
- Into the Wild
- In Bruges
- Lost in Translation
- Out of Africa
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Read Travel Books
Who doesn’t love a good travel inspired read? (Feel free to follow me on Goodreads – even though I don’t update it very often!) From travel memoirs to books set in certain places around the world, you can certainly capture the atmosphere of a place from short stories and longer narratives. Here are a few travel books to read:
- The Way of Wanderlust by Don George
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- The Beach by Alex Garland
- Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee
- Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
- In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Travel the World on YouTube and Instagram
It’s easy to travel the world on YouTube! Browse the videos of your favorite travel YouTubers and vloggers for footage of practically anywhere and everywhere. Feel free to check out our YouTube channel and subscribe to be informed of our future cinematic videos and vlogs.
Instagram is a massive source of travel inspiration, whether you’re in the process of planning a trip or you just want to see pretty pictures. Not only do we have tons of travel photos on our Instagram account, but you can watch past video journeys in our Instagram story highlights.
Learn a Language
Learning a language is one of the most valuable things you can do. There are lots of resources available to learn languages online, depending on the language that you’d like to learn. Duolingo is a great free tool when you’re starting to speak a new language. Another method to learn a language from home is to seek a tutor over Skype.
Once we’re able to travel again (obviously real travel is better than virtual travel, but we’ll take what we can get!), it’s time to attend a class in person to learn a language. The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the language itself. This could mean traveling to a country to take an extensive language course, while immersing yourself in the local culture.
Research Your Ancestry
With a little bit of extra time on your hands at home, why not research your family’s ancestry? Take a look at the MyHeritage DNA website to do your own DNA test and find out your personal and family heritage. Just mail in a simple cheek swab to their testing center to discover your roots.
Once you find out your personalized DNA background, you can build your family tree online or even better…plan a future trip based on your heritage! Why not pay a visit to exactly where your family once lived (or still lives)?
Read Travel Blogs
Plan your next trip! Read your favorite travel blogs. Browse Justin Plus Lauren or check out some of your favorite travel blogs to plan upcoming travels. Just because you can’t travel now doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be planning your next trip, TBD!