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Virtual trips from your couch

Visiting new places and viewing the natural wonders of the world has long been sought out by adventurers over many centuries.

Key points:

  • You can undertake virtual tours or watch live feeds on any computer or tablet device if you are connected to the internet

  • Live feeds may be set for a period of time, while some others may have 24 hours streams

  • There is special virtual reality equipment that can enhance your virtual travel further than just looking at the computer screen

An older couple are experiencing the wonders of virtual reality.
There is a lot of innovative technology that can transport you around the world for free from the comfort of your own home. [Source: iStock]

In this modern age travelling is a lot more accessible, we are now able to become those very adventurers we read about.

However during difficult times, like unexpected illness, or problems outside of your control, like the 2019/20 COVID pandemic, you may not be able to travel around the world or visit your favourite museum. 

Luckily, there are a lot of innovative options utilising technology that can transport you to the other side of the world for free from the comfort of your own home.

​Live feeds

Many companies have recently been utilising live feeds of natural wonders and travel journeys to encourage people to interact and see a different part of the world.

Katmai National Park in Alaska, USA, broadcasts live video every now and then of Brown Bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls in their park. 

The Ghan, a well known Australian train service travelling between Darwin and Adelaide, released a 17 hour train journey "Slow TV' series on SBS, which was a huge hit with Australian audiences.

People were able to sit at home and feel as if they were taking the huge trip through Australia's outback in real time.

Many zoos and aquariums offer live streams or videos of events or performances they have on during the week.

For instance, the Zoos South Australia website has multiple live webcams of animals at different zoos across the state. You can view the Giant Panda Cam at Adelaide Zoo or watch the Chimpanzee Habitat Cam at Monarto Safari Park. The Sydney Aquarium has live streams throughout the week of different events they host, plus a 24 hour live stream of their penguin colony!

Even Nature Conservancy Australia has a Reef Cam based in Port Phillip Bay at Pope's Eye in Victoria, that showcases the underwater life to people across the world.

If you are more about sunsets and sunrises or real life animals, you can view the Northern Lights and other delights on Explore's Zen Den, which shows everything from live pipeline surfing in Hawaii to footage of an International Wolf Centre in Ely, Minnesota, USA

The International Space Station cam is another great gem if you want to view otherworldly experiences or to see if you can spot your house from space!

Or if you are looking for something a bit exotic and on your own planet, you can watch the Costa Rica Volcano Cam.

For something a bit more interactive, some live streams can keep you entertained by knowing you had an effect on somewhere else in the world.

Drive Me Insane is one such webcam, where the whole point is to drive the occupant of the house insane by turning on lights or music in their house!

Virtual tours

Going on a virtual tour can almost make you feel like you are there while you are actually sitting comfortably on your couch in your pyjamas!

Many different organisations offer virtual tours, including some guided tours, on their own websites. 

For instance, the National Gallery of Victoria has a fantastic content library of self-guided tours which are able to show the descriptions next to the artwork very clearly. There are also voice-over elements that can provide more in-depth understanding behind what you are viewing.

Whereas the Vatican City provides 360 virtual tours of their buildings and museums. You can even view the Sistine Chapel without any tourists in sight!

Another surprising contributor to supporting virtual travel is Google. While they are commonly known for providing directions or maps, the Google Maps function has been utilised to provide virtual tours which can take you to the best monuments and icons around the world.

Google Arts & Culture has over 2,000 museums and galleries around the world to visit and more than 10,000 travel sites you can view as if you were right there.

Why not visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in America or view the art showcased in the Louvre in France. 

Alternatively, you can have a birds eye view of the Taj Mahal in India or "stroll" around the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt.

Not only can you visit locations, Google Arts & Culture has an extensive visual library showing you how different cultural and traditional arts and crafts are made.

One other unique option is to explore nearby planets through artist impressions of what they look like. The Exoplanet Exploration project by NASA is like choosing a unique holiday destination to visit before you could be plonked on top of a lava covered planet such as 55 Cancri e, which is 44 light years away from Earth.

What are you interested in?

Even though you may not be able to travel at the moment, it doesn't mean you can't visit other places.

Virtual tours and live streams are widely available, but there are also many documentaries and tv shows that can let you experience a little of what it is like to be in another country.

Besides looking at your own computer or tablet to see these places, you could use VR technology or cardboard virtual reality devices that can really envelop and enhance your sensors and make you feel like you are really in another location than your own living room. 

There is so much live stream content or virtual tours available. You just need to decide on what interests you and you should be able to find something to entertain!

Have you taken a virtual tour before? What did you view? Let us know in the comments below.

Related Content:

Living life on the road
Travelling overseas later in life
How to maintain and improve mobility and reduce falls

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