Many of us are not having the summer we envisioned. Personally, I was hoping to see the Grand Canyon for the first time, and hike the Tetons. The pandemic has changed, or outright ruined our travel plans. While the country is slowly, and contentiously, opening back up the COVID-19 case numbers are still on the rise. If you're choosing to stay at home we've got some virtual travel ideas for you.
The world is still out there and our wanderlust hasn’t faded. In fact, our desire to travel is bottled up and growing by the day. Grab your ‘explore more’ bandana, or tie ‘blaze a trail’ around your neck and check out some social-distance-safe (and cheap) virtual travel ideas.
virtual guided tours: Egypt
John Van Auken has created three virtual tours of Egyptian temples, tombs and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Each episode is 90-minutes and costs $39. Not a bad cost when you consider what it would take to actually travel to Egypt. John is a tour leader, book author and has renowned knowledge of Egptian mysticism.
Despite the disappointment of COVID-19 causing tens of thousands of people to cancel their vacations, John outlines the perks of traveling virtually:
Since this global pandemic has us confined to our homes and towns, we miss having the chance to explore the ancient and sacred lands of our collective spiritual heritage. I’ve created this series of video tours so we can feel the magic and mystery inherent in the art and texts of these early incarnations. Since we aren’t in large, noisy crowds and forced to move along faster than we’d like, I can actually provide you with more information, detail, and beauty than if we were physically on the sites! And, unlike a live tour, you can pause the program or view it at your own pace and take in the beauty and wonder of these sights as you ponder their meaning and majesty.
P.S> Another way to see, and learn about, Egypt is through the beautifully designed video game, Assassin’s Creed. The game’s Discover Tour mode suspends active narrative and combat interaction to allow you uninterrupted access to ancient Egypt. Designers consulted with historians to incorporate accurate details and information to augment gamers’ journeys. Learn more about the design process and inspiration for virtual discovery.
live cam: a virtual Kenyan safari
Reading our earlier post about a Jenni Earle trailblazer walking across Kenya may have inspired you to consider East African travel plans. Right now, as these words are moving across the page, I am watching seven elephants (3 adults, 3 young adults and 1 adorable baby) hang out near a watering hole. I can hear birds singing in Kenya, right now. This is so cool.
The camera is located in Laikipia County, about five hours away from Nairobi. The live cams are part of an effort organized by the Mpala Research Centre & The Mpala Wildlife Foundation. The foundation, and the website, also boast a Classroom section with virtual lessons, such as ‘How Ecosystems Work’. My favorite might be the illustrated Field Guide that can help you, and your I’m-bored-it’s-a-pandemic-summer kids recognize animals on the live cam. Enjoy the sights and make your vacation educational, too!
the internet: create your own travel plan!
My friend has a virtual reality (VR) headset. When I was recently accepted to a few graduate programs, I wondered what these cities looked like (Stillwater, OK; Marquette, MI; and Durham, NH...not the most exciting but I was curious). He offered his headset so that I could take a tour.
Google street view has been around for awhile now, but experiencing street view through a headset is mind boggling. Really, it can make you queasy: the visuals are so close to reality that your brain needs a few moments to register that while your eyes are ‘saying’ you are moving, your body is remaining in one place.
It’s a big world out there and even if the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t happened, hardly anyone has the time and resources to see everything there is to see. Google Arts and Culture brings some of the humanity’s greatest architectural structures and renowned works of art to your computer.
Streetview lets you visit thousands of famous sites and landmarks.
View over 100,000 works of art in high definition.
In honor of Juneteenth (and recent protests) check out photos from the Civil Rights Movement, or contemporary works in the Baltimore Museum of Art, by African American Artists.
Prefer to travel aurally? NPR shares music from around the world.
Safe travels, and remember, virtual travelling doesn’t require a mask!