Between fielding conference calls and tearing through quarantine snacks like we’re running some kind of pandemic stress-marathon, many of us could use a break. That’s not exactly the easiest thing to find when you’re stuck at home—especially if you love to travel. If your preferred form of self-care is venturing to other cities, states and countries, being confined to your home’s square footage can be taxing.
But that doesn’t mean that escape is impossible: We just need to embrace the virtual experience. Just as we read books or binge a Netflix series to escape the world, we can also leave it behind for a bit via a little at-home travel.
Setting the scene
As with any form of travel, plan your trip in advance by setting up your itinerary. You get to decide where you want to go, what you want to see and even what activities you can partake in—all without the hassle of worrying about how you’ll get there.
If you can, provide yourself with a space apart from where you sleep or do your work so you can fully immerse yourself into the virtual travel experience. As much as possible, recreate the ambiance and vibe of your chosen destination:
Light some candles or the fireplace if you want to set up a camping-type scenario. Hit the lights and save a bit on your electric bill for this one.
Don’t forget about smells! If you’re visiting a virtual amusement park, try recreating this funnel cake recipe.
Where to travel
That’s entirely up to you. If you’re pining for the ocean, maybe you’d like to head to a beach to enjoy the sight of clear blue water and hear the sound of crashing waves. According to Cindy T. Graham, Ph.D, a licensed clinical psychologist in Columbia, Maryland, a virtual beach may have some health benefits: “The sound of the ocean can have a soothing or meditative effect. Activities that promote relaxation...have been shown to have positive effects on physical health (e.g. lower cortisol levels, reduced inflammation, improved heart health). Furthermore, these soothing activities are also connected to improvement in mental health (decrease in symptoms of depression and anxiety).”
Beaches aren’t the only places that we can enjoy. There are so many options, including heading to a theme park and riding a rollercoaster from home!
Here are some immersive virtual travel tours you can check out right now:
Scuba dive in Palau
For a little under six minutes, this 360-degree virtual experience will take you deep into the waters of Palau. Clear waters, swaying corals, and vibrant schools of fish are only a small part of this video—you can also learn the role that corals are playing in the fight against climate change.
Stroll along Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii
Imagine yourself barefoot in the sand while the sun kisses your forehead. For over two hours, you can enjoy the crashing of the aquamarine waves while you walk along the beach, see children playing in the sand, and watch the palm trees sway.
U.S. National parks
Tour the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania
This seven-minute 360-degree video allows you to explore the Serengeti with all the thrills and none of the safety concerns about being up close and personal with wildebeest, gorillas, and even a friendly warthog.
Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
Or maybe you want to visit an area of the world with glaciers and a view of the ice caps atop picturesque mountains. You can kayak through glaciers and witness a humpback whale dive out of the water. Stand atop a crevasse on Exit Glacier, and witness how global warming is affecting this pristine environment.
Guided city tours
Get a chance to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and many other famous landmarks in this United Kingdom city. Your tour guide Peter provides the historic context of each site and why they’re so important culturally.
This guided tour allows you to get a real feel for one of the most popular Southeast Asia tourism destinations full of incredible architecture, temples, and golden Buddhas.
Italy, as we all know, has been hit extremely hard by the pandemic. As you tour through this majestic city, home to over 1.4 million people, you can look forward to the day when you can visit it in person. The tour shows the modernisation of Milan over the last decade, as well as older buildings such as the Castello Sforzesco—home to the Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo art exhibits.
See a show
I, for one, love travelling to festivals to watch my favourite artists perform while belting out songs with random strangers from all over the nation.
But even though we’re not going to festivals any time soon, we can still check out Broadway plays and dance as professional DJs mix it up. Or enjoy country-music performances, if that’s your thing.
Here are a list of some shows you can travel to, at home:
Broadway: BroadwayHD offers a seven-day free trial and a front row seat to plays such as Macbeth, CATS, and Swan Lake.
Club Quarantine with DJ D-Nice: In one day this old school hop-hop DJ grew his social media from just a few thousand to over a million followers. Club Quarantine has been visited by some of the biggest celebrities, including none other than former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra- The DSO is offering viewers a plethora of options, broken down based on orchestral style (baroque, classical, romantic), women composers, and composers by alphabet.
The Metropolitan Opera- The Met is offering encore presentations from the company’s Live in HD series, for free, with each performance available for 23 hours. Check out their upcoming schedule, which includes Cosi Fan Tutte and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
Whiskey Jam’s, Risky Jam- The Risky Jam is hosted vis Instagram Live, every night at 9pm-11pm CST where over 6 country music artists perform for each evening.
Dress the part
Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to stay in your yoga pants. Go ahead and put on that outfit you were planning to wear to the Governor’s Ball. Do your hair. Break open your unused makeup kit. Or throw on those swim trunks, sunscreen, and shades just like you would if you were headed to the beach. Make it a full FaceTime moment with your friends and loved ones and take screenshots of just how hilarious it all is.
And remember to breathe, have fun, and feel free to tag us on social media during your living room excursion.