With second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting various parts of the world, some of the already-year-long travel restrictions and lockdowns that the pandemic has forced us to abide by are still in effect. If you’re a wanderlust person who’s getting cabin fever, one thing you can be thankful for is that technology affords us the option to travel the world without leaving our couches. Sure, nothing’s the same as being there, but the options on our list should be enough to satiate your hunger for travel until you can get out there and experience the real deal again.
While you can explore any of these options from a smartphone, tablet, PC, or smart TV with no other equipment or software necessary, there are a couple of things that will really enhance the experience.
First, grab a VR headset. VR headsets come in a range of prices to suit various budgets. Some are compatible with any internet-connected device, while others are only compatible with high-end gaming computers. Search the range of options available and get one that suits your requirements for the most immersive virtual travel experiences.
The next thing you’ll want to do is download a VPN, which will allow you to access content in various parts of the world that would otherwise be unavailable outside of your region. According to this guide on what is a VPN, VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it works by masking your IP address and encrypting all the data that flows in and out of whatever device you install it on. It also allows you to connect to a server in a country of your choosing so that you can access whatever content is available in that region – something you wouldn’t be able to do from your ISP’s network.
Now, without further ado, here are 10 of the best ways to explore the world from your living room.
Strap on your VR headset, connect to your VPN, and get ready to see the world without leaving your couch. Ready? Let’s go!
Tour Museums and Art Galleries
If you’re an art and culture buff, you’ll be thrilled to know that the pandemic has opened up the opportunity to tour some of the most iconic museums and art galleries in the world without requiring you to actually travel there. Some of the best virtual museum and art gallery tours available in 2021 include:
There are hundreds of other galleries worldwide offering tours today, and the installations are constantly changing. Do a simple Google search for VR museum and gallery tours, and you’ll find a treasure trove of exhibits to explore.
Go on a Virtual Cruise
Whether you love going on cruises for entertainment or the ocean, many cruise lines offer their signature experiences to an online audience since social distancing rules have basically put a halt to cruises as we know them. If you’ve never been on a cruise, taking a virtual one is an excellent way to get familiar with them before you decide to drop thousands of dollars on one when social distancing restrictions lift. Crank up the heat in your living room, put on your favorite bathing suit, grab a bottle of tequila and get ready for a virtual cruise ship party.
Stream the Best Travel Programs
Travel programs were already becoming pretty popular before the pandemic. Still, demand for them has increased since lockdowns, and travel restrictions became a part of daily life over the last year. Fortunately, there are plenty of travel programs that you can tune into with different themes like food and cooking, drama, and comedy, so you can choose one that suits your mood.
Go on VR Amusement Park Rides
If you’re an adrenaline junkie who’s missing the thrill of riding your favorite coasters, you’re in luck. You can log into Disney World’s YouTube channel for an interactive 360-degree video environment to relive the days of wandering the park and watching people ride the rides. You can also search for pretty much any famous coaster in the world and find virtual rides available, which of course, are all the more thrilling when watched through a VR headset. In addition to coasters, you can tour parks like Legoland, Dollywood, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Round up the kids and take a thrilling family vacation in the comfort of your living room.
Check out WindowSwap
One of the most exciting ways to see the world is from the perspective of a stranger’s window. WindowSwap is a platform where users from all over the globe submit views from their own windows. When you sign on, you’re transported to a random place in the world, where you can gaze at the scenery from the point of view of someone who lives there. You can see everything from the Brooklyn Bridge to a Slovakian goat farm, a Greek garden, a Shanghai high-rise, and a busy street in Egypt in five minutes.
Go Digital Diving
Whether you’re an avid diver or have never been before, it can be argued that digital diving might be even better than the real thing – especially if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do but have a phobia of the ocean. Digital diving tours allow you to explore iconic underwater places like the Great Barrier Reef and the Palmyra Coral Garden without donning a wetsuit. You can also swim with sharks and dive into centuries-old shipwrecks without “wetting yourself” from fear. If you love exploring the deep seas so much that you’ll want to do it in real life, you can even get yourself a scuba certification so that you’re ready to go when the time is right.
Take a Virtual Hike
Whether you’re an avid outdoors person who hasn’t been able to travel to some of your favorite hiking trails or have never gotten around to climbing a mountain but have always wondered what it would be like, now is the perfect time to take a virtual hike. You can experience some of the most breathtaking treks in the world through the eyes of someone actually hiking the trail, making it the next best thing to actually being there. Light some scented candles and grab a bag of trail mix while you take in the view – the best part is that there’s no physical training necessary.
Visit the 30 Most Iconic World Heritage Sites
If you haven’t heard of Google Earth, it’s probably a good thing that you have more time to spend on the internet now. The world’s most popular and comprehensive browser has teamed up with UNESCO to offer virtual 3-D tours of the 30 most iconic world heritage sites. Among the places you can choose to explore are the Pyramids of Giza, Taj Mahal, and Stonehenge. Each adventure begins with a zoomed-out view of Earth. You can select any flagged location and zoom in to a bird’s eye view. Or, view the list of sites on the right side of the screen and click on one, after which you’ll be transported to a street view of the site for a tourist’s perspective.
Subscribe to a Travel Vlog
Satiate your thirst for travel by living vicariously through other people’s adventures by subscribing to a travel vlog. YouTube is chock full of travel vloggers who show various perspectives of their destinations while providing helpful insights and tips throughout their videos. You can take notes on your favorite places to help you start planning new trips of your own once the pandemic calms down and travel restrictions are lifted.
Go on Virtual Hotel Tours
Pandemic or not, it’s unlikely that the lot of us would ever get to experience a hotel stay as the rich and famous do. What the pandemic has offered is the chance to experience the most luxurious hotels in the world as up-close and personal as though you’re actually staying there. From the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo to the Marina del Rey Hotel in Los Angeles, or The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra in India, the Lotte Hotel Seoul, and more, you can tour some of the most luxurious hotels in the world without having to spend thousands of dollars on a suite.
Some of the options on the list above might allow you to explore places and see things that you may never have known existed or may never have had the resources to visit in real life. With a VR headset and access to content worldwide, you may never even want to go back to the “old” way of traveling.