With warm weather on the doorstep, attention is turning toward that time-honored tradition of the summer vacation. We plan, save money, look forward to new scenery and time with our family, and just plain relaxing. But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted the entire globe, many are opting not to travel this summer.
When physical travel isn’t desirable, our age of technology puts that vacation “virtually” at your fingertips.
Even before COVID-19 travel restrictions, travel companies were experimenting with Virtual Reality Vacations as a way to market real life travel.
A recent article by Forbes magazine notes “New Jersey-based marketing firm Travel World VR launched its new app in December. Through the app, users will be able to view 360-degree VR videos of destinations, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, and tour operators. This is all aimed at encouraging potential customers to book real holidays.”
With whole-country lock downs and travel bans due to COVID-19, the transportive nature of Virtual Reality can offer a solution for those with wanderlust.
P1 Group Senior Project Manager Zach Kittle said his boys, Liam and Grayson, have gone on a number of virtual field trips during the last quarter of school, and as a family they are definitely planning some virtual vacations this summer, especially since they had to cancel a trip to Ireland.
“The nice thing about a virtual vacation is that there's no traveling required. You can travel in your robe from your couch with a cocktail in hand,” Zach said.
Many of the top tier museums have gone digital and offer ways to view their most famous offerings from the comfort of your home.
Google has partnered with over 60 museums and galleries worldwide and offer virtual tours with their Google Art Project. The Guggenheim in New York City has made some of their collections and exhibits available to view online, and The Louvre in Paris offers a 360-degree online tour experience of some of their most popular exhibits.
Kansas City’s own Nelson-Atkins gallery has a virtual tour that can be found at NelsonAtkins.org and they recently partnered with the Kansas City Zoo to produce this entertaining moment with some art-loving birds.
Speaking of zoos, a whole host of zoos offer live cams and feeds to various habitats of their animals online. You can check out the Houston Zoo's Elephant Yard cam, or the Pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo's Giant Panda Cam.
Even our local Kansas City Zoo has joined in with their “Zoo To You” site, with animal cams to watch the residents daily (like penguins), hands-on educational activities the kids can easily do at home, and even “ZOO’m” backgrounds to spice up your next virtual meeting with creative animal-themed landscapes.
Ready to move on to your next destination? How about going by train through the Swiss Alps or 12 other trips from around the world? Virtual train rides offer the chance to see new and amazing landscapes without having to worry about train fare, so make a beverage to fit the destination and hop aboard.
The train just pulled into the station so jump out get ready to explore a National Park. Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with five national parks in the U.S. that feature different climates and environments from across the country, including famous desert vistas and snowy terrains. The National Parks website also gives you information and stunning visuals on all the national parks so you can note which ones you may want to visit in the future.
Many families look forward to a vacation at a big theme park and if that destination was on your summer “to do” list, you can still bring the thrill of the theme park rides to your living room. Rides like Hollywood and many others can be experienced through your computer or TV screen.
P1 Group Digital Media Specialist Tiffany Oldham and her eight-year-old daughter Lily recently spent an afternoon “riding” some of the roller coasters on YouTube and she said they loved all of them.
“Lily really loved Jurassic World and it was funny how we wanted to move along with the rides. We kept leaning into the turns,” Tiffany said.
From Harry Potter to Star Wars, check out this article from The Jakarta Post on for links to virtual theme park rides.
Don’t forget to inject a little culture into your virtual travel extravaganza. After a whirlwind day of “traveling”, top the evening off with a Broadway show or a concert from the Metropolitan Opera or the Berlin Philharmonic, without the formal suit or dress and heels.
BroadwayHD offers a seven-day free trial so you can choose from a huge catalog of theater productions. There is also a wide array of symphony’s and concerts available for whatever your listening tastes may be.
There you have it: Just a few of the virtual travel experiences available within a couple clicks. So why not give the Netflix binges a rest and “get outta town”!