6 Ways to Travel the World Virtually

Anamaria Koeva 14 November 2020
Image Credits: Window Swap

Virtual travel is not only a budget-friendly option, but it has been the only leisure travel option for much of 2020. In case you want to explore something more than Panopto this term, let me offer you several suggestions to help you quench your wanderlust and assuage your cabin fever:

1. Window Swap

Bored with the view from your own window? Peek out of other people’s rooms around the world via Window Swap[1] and even share a video of your own window view. You can be transported to a place like Thessaloniki, Darmstadt, Tatarstan, New York, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Melbourne, Istanbul, Sheffield, Taipei, Cincinnati, Hong Kong or anywhere you can think of in the blink of an eye. The best part is that you never know where you will end up next.

2. Nature Live Cams

Observe animals and natural phenomena in real-time with live cam websites like this one [2]. Be it hippos bathing in the Olifam River, kittens getting fed in a rescue sanctuary in Los Angeles, bear cubs playing in Katmai National Park, birds in their nests – there is an unlimited reserve of adorableness to recharge your brain and at the same time make you more environmentally aware. Or if you prefer something conducive to higher adrenaline levels, you can choose to stream a live swim with white sharks or perhaps get an extraordinary insight into the daily routine of seven packs of endangered wolves[3] [4]. These websites are also a great place to look for causes for your next birthday fundraising campaign.

3. Google Arts and Culture

If you don’t want to run the risk of getting bored with your college scenery, intersperse your college pond strolls with a visit to the Louvre, Vatican City, MoMA or wherever your arty self pleases via Google Arts and Culture [5]. You can browse by places, museums, artworks or even games (yes, there are interactive games, much like in a real museum). If you download the app, you can make use of more functions like Art Transfer, which lets you view yourself as if painted by a famous artist of your choice.

4. Join an Online Travel Community

It has probably been ages since your last backpack trip. Or, like me, you have never undertaken one yet. While you are waiting for the chance to set off, travel communities like Worldpackers [6] will keep your wanderlust alive and will protect you from getting too used to ‘normal life’. The Nomadic Network [7] even organize a wide range of events on topics such as: “How To Volunteer On Farms Around The World”, which will tell you how to receive food and accommodation in exchange for working on organic farms worldwide; “A Beginner Tutorial on Travel Hacking” in case you wonder how to get the opportunity to shower on a plane for free; and “The Future of Student Travel” – a topic of much concern to us all. They maintain pay-what-you-can ticket ethics, which is ideal for students and budding nomads.

5. YouTube Channels

There are numerous exciting travel channels on YouTube and it is hard to pick the best ones. Therefore, I have chosen a selection of three which together cover a wide range of travel activities:

Fearless and Far [8] is a vlog of Mike Corey’s unusual trips. Some of them are, indeed, safer to be experienced from the comfort of your room. His destinations feature more than fifty countries and hundreds of adventures which most of us wouldn’t think to undertake, such as “Living With The Mushroom People of Romania [9] ” and scuba diving in poison [10]  in Mexico.

The Coaster Views [11]  channel offers another type of experience by taking you on virtual rides across many theme parks worldwide, including the Space Mountain [12]  in Disney World, Florida.

In a more traditionally touristic approach, Free Tours by Foot [13] offers an amazing library of guided virtual tours for free. With their videos ranging from ten to forty minutes in length, you could visit several cities on the same day. Prague, San Francisco, New York, Krakow, Florence, London are only a few of a wide range of destinations to choose from.

6. Google Earth

No listicle about virtual travel would be complete without the mention of Google Earth [14], which offers a virtual globe-trotting experience. Apart from spying on your home from Google’s aircraft and satellites, you can use it in 3D to visit thirty World Heritage sites [15] in street view while the most relevant information about the landmarks is conveniently at your disposal on the screen. Use the augmented reality function and you could choose to go birdwatching or to explore cultural objects, land animals, underwater animals, and even cellular structures and human systems, which makes for an extraordinarily detailed trip!

Even though our physical travel explorations are limited, virtually we can see the whole world and in some ways even notice more than we usually would. Simply spin the globe and choose where to go next. Nothing can stop you (apart, of course, from a weak Eduroam connection).

[1] https://window-swap.com/
[2] https://explore.org/livecams/brown-bears/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls
[3] https://nywolf.org/meet-our-wolves/webcams/
[4] https://nywolf.org/meet-our-wolves/webcams/
[5] https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en
[6] https://www.worldpackers.com/community
[7] https://thenomadicnetwork.com/events
[8] https://www.youtube.com/c/MikeCorey
[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfsASis9WWM
[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsdFP_UrLso
[11] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgQRLYCo3ddB7hE6neK053A
[12] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMMiZFPYg6M
[13] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsGkZk2PVM_gaZjS0VH8RCA/videos
[14] https://www.google.com/earth/
[15] https://earth.google.com/web/@24.27907103,64.87953145,12.15713829a,18782599.89749163d,35y,0.00000008h,0t,0r/data=Ci4SLBIgMTA1NDZmMzhmZGM3MTFlNmEyN2MxYjMxZWFiNDNjN2QiCG92ZXJ2aWV3