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Travelers' Talk: The Best Virtual Travel Experiences

In this COVID-19 pandemic, staying home is the best way to keep yourself and others safe. However, it can not against people from taking their virtual travel via the Internet and technologies.  From the Norwegian fjords to the Serengeti, travelers bring music, vistas, wildlife, art, and street life into their homes without going outside of their houses. In this guide, let's join the best virtual travels with travelers all around the world. 

A bird’s eye view of Norway

One of my joys of traveling is wearing headphones and listening to music while watching a new country spool outside the train's window. During the pandemic, I explored how to replicate this experience while confined to the house: by watching drone footage of faraway places on YouTube. My favorite was Flying Over Norway, an hour-long feature flying above fjords, bays, and fishing villages. The footage shows you a bird’s-eye view of deep valleys in shadow, winding roads, and bridges connecting rocky islands. I could see people walking along the beach yet could also see how the landscapes fit together in the very close view.

Mary

Virtual Travel Brooklyn to Celebrate Christmas

virtual travel, Holiday lights and decorations in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood this year.

I took part in a tour of Dyker Heights with virtualtrips.io out of sheer boredom. The place is an area of Brooklyn notorious for its absolutely wonderful Christmas lights. I think Brits intrinsically enjoy simultaneously marveling at and disapproving of American extravagance. Aaron and Patrick, our tour-guides, were cozy and funny and surprisingly I actually felt a little sense of community when I contemplated my fellow virtual travelers: each of us sat in our own bubbles around the world with a cup of tea or something else. It’s the only time I felt close and connected with someone outside my household over the holiday period.
• virtual trips/io, tipping guides encouraged

Caitlin Evans

Eyeballing the king of the jungle

A giant African lion male in the Serengeti National Park,

Explore.org was pretty much attracted me to its Africams section for about four months. Then I learned to identify the different sounds and perfect times to watch. It helped that I hit the jackpot the very first time I clicked: there in night vision was a majestic lion with humongous mane staring at me (and only me, of course!) Shout out to live safaris on Wildearth.tv too. These are more controlled as you have a guide, but you get such unrivaled intimacy with the animals. And you can’t beat an African sunset.

Antony T

Dance music and jazz, live-streamed

virtual travel, Tia Fuller’s Diamond Cut at the Monterey Jazz Festival

I can’t explain how immensely grateful I am for the creation of Livestream. From taking exercises while jamming to California’s live Monterey Jazz Festival in the background to watching new premieres of Boiler Room’s global Streaming From Isolation series with friends on Zoom (taking us as far as the dance scenes of Mexico and India), it’s a testament to how music can transport us anywhere in the world, no matter how far we are from one another.

Rohan Chakraborty

Birds and bands via webcam

virtual travel, Northern Cardinal male on a feeder

I’ve fallen in love with webcams! I have seen enthralled as bluejays, red cardinals (pictured), sparrows, and starlings feast at a feeder in Akron, Ohio. I also then explored that house sparrows and European starling populations have thrived in the US (they are thought to have harmed native bird species), having been released in the 19th century. I’ve seen snowfall in obscure Russian cities and music bands play in Florida's bars. On New Year’s Eve, I watched the celebrations in Times Square ... I can’t go anywhere because of the pandemic but I enjoy the world and it’s fantastic!

Tia McGregor

North Atlantic in my living room

Northern Lights in Lofoten, Norway

Exhausted after Covid and unable to pay enough attention to read, I came across skyline webcams – live webcams from around the world. I settled on the Lofoten Islands, Norway, and particularly the fishing village of Henningsvær, where I marveled at the changes in the weather, the light, the shortness of days, the fishing boats, the lifeboat, the ferry arriving and people embarking and disembarking going about their days, the glowing winter lights in the houses on the jetty. I’m looking forward to seeing the aurora borealis from here. I’m now mostly recovered and working from home however, I have this on in the background and check-in throughout the day.

Darlaine

Zooming around Hong Kong

virtual travel - A woman burns incenses as she prays at Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Greeters’ live Zoom tour ($88) covered HK’s past and present, our guide showing us through Sheung Wan’s traditional dried seafood streets to the incense-heavy Man Mo Temple (pictured), where worshippers send up a quick prayer for their fortune en route to the office. We relived our former commute on the world’s longest outdoor escalator before heading to Tai Kwun, a colonial-era police station-turned-arts hub, where we heard amazing tales of its former life as a prison. Having relocated mid-pandemic from Hong Kong to Manchester, I’ve desperately missed my hometown of 12 years. This virtual travel tour was perfect for increasing my homesickness.

Kate Farr

Birding in Colombia without the mosquitoes

With more species than other countries and music based on birdsong, Colombia was a great destination for virtual birding. The Birders’ melodic journey through northern Colombia (on YouTube) is a fabulous tour led by biologist Diego Calderón-Franco and filmed by Keith Ladzinski from National Geographic. I had very real experiences of the desert heat, the cloud forest chill, and the jungle humidity. Luckily, I did not feel the mosquito bites or get covered in monkey poo. Columbian culture and music improved my appreciation of stunning landscapes and fascinating birds. Some birds were identified; many more appear in the shot. Let's download the provided species list and see how many you can spot. 

Debbie Rolls

Virtual Travel at Vincent Museum, Amsterdam

virtual travel-Self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

My virtual travel to the Vincent Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam was brilliant: I am able to get much closer and linger longer at the paintings of the maestro than any real tour would have done, which was a real boost for my university degree in art, given all the restrictions. The detail is amazing and the zoom-in button allows you to get really close up to more than 200 drawings, including some famous ones. The opening self-portraits really draw you in. The colors and lines of landscapes, nature, and flowers are stunning in the virtual tour. You can also watch handwritten letters, telling you of his life, love, torment, and inspiration.

Peter Riley

The Camino on YouTube

The Lindsey Hikes & Travels vlog on the French Camino de Santiago is a 52-video marathon full of natural and architectural highlights along the Camino, by an ego-free solo American woman who gives her own take on this massive undertaking. It’s a vicarious treat that will not only show you the best sights but will also bring you to tears as you join Lindsey’s spiritual and emotional journey. It is great to share someone’s life-changing experience with them.

James Fairham