Cancelled family vacations, abandoned escapes to exotic destinations, postponement of trips celebrating milestones… this is the impact of the near shutdown in international travel brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yet in the mist of this disruption ‘travel’ continues, albeit in a very different way. Enter the ‘virtual vacation’.
These types of digital travel experiences have been around for a while in various forms ranging from the traditional interactive photo galleries and videos to more engaging VR tours. But at a time of so many cancelled trips and with stay-at-home orders around the globe this type of vacation experience has taken on a whole new meaning for both ‘visitors’ and attractions & destinations.
Whether heading online to re-live memorable past vacation experiences, to dream of future ones, as a distraction from the stuck at home frustrations, or a reminder of the beauty still to be found all around the world, virtual escapes are making our lives better.
Here are some of our favourites:
Chile 360º goes the mobile app route with a visually stunning travel experience showcasing Chile’s natural and cultural heritage. Delve into the mysteries of Easter Island statues, explore the majestic Torres del Paine national park, and trek through the Atacama Desert!
Explore this New York museum using Google Arts & Culture’s 360 degree views. These virtual tours somewhat surprisingly capture the unique architecture of this magnificent building, as well as the intriguing art within.
OurBarbados.Online bills itself as “The virtual view of Barbados for visitors who can’t travel at the moment, and Bajans stuck at home.” And it delivers with an impressive collection of 360 virtual tours, live webcams and drone videos allowing virtual visitors access to the island’s beaches, natural wonders, and popular attractions.
The site also lightens the mood with island jokes, authentic Bajan recipes and fun Barbados-themed games.
Family vacation got cancelled? Kids whining and moping around? Head to Virtual Disney World on YouTube for thrilling 360º rides! Now we’re not going to pretend that this comes close to the real thing but it will keep the kids entertained for a couple hours.
For more mature travelers, Viator’s Virtual Tours Around the World is the perfect online destination. Hang out with penguins on the shores of South Africa, explore New York City on a summer night, or float down a Vietnamese river!