Everyone has been working from home, but have you been travelling from home?
Ever wanted to see the cherry blossom season in Tokyo, the Golden Temple in Kyoto or climb Mount Fuji? Japan Rail Pass has curated a collection of 20 virtual visits of Japan you can enjoy from your couch, using only Google Maps.
Check over here for the details of that virtual trip.
Lots of cities, places of culture and people offer virtual tours and visits you can do from home. These are not all new or linked to Covid19. Some museums already had a fantastic virtual visit program. But tour guides, for example, had to become really creative and provide some great content to continue their work and share their passion for their city.
There have been lots of great initiatives from museums, allowing you to see works of art, without the queues and the crowds. To be honest, when visiting the Louvres, you actually never get a chance to see the Mona Lisa properly or stand in front of it for any length of time. So going online might be the answer to that.
The Rijksmuseum offers a free tour from home to discover some of the Masterpieces up close. You can also get their app and follow the multimedia tours. It's not exactly as if you were there, but it is a good start.
The MOMA can be visited 'live' every Thursday with curators. You get videos, a walk around, highlights and a Q&A.
Fancy seeing New York by helicopter, getting a feel for Jerusalem, visiting Macchu Picchu without the crowds or discovering Nantes, this can be done over here https://www.youvisit.com/travel. The quality is not exceptional but good enough to do some research or simply daydream of future travels.
Experience providers where human contact is of the essence to convey knowledge, emotions and flavour had to re-invent themselves and go 100% online. Could we imagine a few months ago going on a safari, live from home or cook pasta with an Italian nonna in our humble kitchen? I don't think so.
Walk around Rome with an actor and poet. Simone offers a 1,5 hours walk around the Eternal City of Rome to learn about history through the beautiful language of poetry.
Visit a working farm in New Zealand and be part of a few hours of a farmers life for as little as 5 euros per person. You can ask all the questions and have a real exchange with locals.
Learn the art of pasta making with an Italian Nonna, live from her kitchen. You receive the list of ingredients to buy, set your laptop in the kitchen, grab a glass of wine and off you go. She will entertain you with stories, guide you to roll the dough properly and share her tips for the best comfort food.
Join a virtual game drive in South Africa and see the animals with your ranger by your side. This is mind-blowing, as it is not only a video or a recording, you really are there, in the wild, trying to spot the animals. There are several luxury lodges that offer this option.
Children have been at the centre of lots of great initiatives from museums, zoos and even hotel chains. Homeschooling was a challenge for everyone, so these activities were very welcome. Even with children being back at school, let's not forget the great resources that can come very useful on a rainy weekend ;-)
Explore the San Diego zoo and spy on the animals with the live cams. This zoo is pretty exceptional to visit and has lots to offer. For a better choice, head to https://explore.org/livecams/currently-live/ and just pick which animals are awake and live now. You can choose amongst Elephants in Africa, Hippos, Donkeys, Kitten sanctuaries,... So much to see!
Hang out at the Natural History Museum guided by Sir David Attenborough or chat to scientists during live conversations twice a week online. The animals will obviously never be as impressive, but there is a lot to learn.
Become a marine biologist and follow a 10 week (free) program with a luxury hotel chain based in the Maldives. They kicked this off at the start of lockdown to help with homeschooling. Yet, this can be picked up anytime and the videos, content and resources are great.
This is really helping to daydream and create a “to-see list”. It has allowed us to continue exploring, visiting, learning and keep our eyes open and our horizons wide. Hopefully, these are places we will visit one day.
This kind of virtual visit and experience can also help take a first step towards the unknown. Would you visit this country, city or specific place because you already had a small glimpse of it online?
In the future, will we hear "I am off to Rome this weekend, we have some museum visits, a tour guide for the city highlights, a cooking class and a delicious dinner" ...all at home?
I really hope this will never replace real travel and all the experiences that go with it. I cannot imagine travelling without meeting and connecting with people, walking around food markets, trying new delicacies and embracing a new culture through smells, colours and sounds. Travelling is an experience for all of the senses.
But until then, I think I am going to plan a trip for the family and make a real travel experience out of it. Pack a bag, set up camp in the garden and go on a fabulous adventure, from home.
I think I fancy going to Mexico...🇲🇽