Explore the World with Virtual Travel

Traveling virtually has many benefits: it's low cost and offers increased accessibility. If you are feeling wanderlust, here are some interesting national parks, safaris, cultural monuments, and underwater sanctuaries from around the world to check out.

Virtual TravelThose of us who like to travel weren't able to venture too far this summer due to the ongoing pandemic. However, the tourism industry has been working hard over the last few months to create appealing virtual experiences for travelers to explore from home. Anyone with an internet connection can now visit national parks, safaris, cultural monuments, and underwater sanctuaries located all over the world. Traveling virtually has many benefits—it's low cost and offers increased accessibility. It also allows visitors to observe places they might not be able to see otherwise, such as close-ups view of animals that live deep in the ocean.

To create eye-catching and appealing experiences, travel companies and government agencies are incorporating high-tech options such as augmented reality, virtual reality (VR), and 360-degree virtual tours. These enhancements allow for increased immersion so that viewers can feel as if they are physically present at each locale. Some online travel experiences now charge a fee for extras such as conversations with an expert in the field or an individual guided tour.

If you are tired of being home and are feeling wanderlust, here are some interesting virtual tours from around the world. All of the experiences listed here are free, though some may charge extra for additional features.

Explore a National Park
The National Parks Service has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture to offer guided virtual tours in a series called The Hidden Worlds of the Natural Parks. There are five parks featured in this series—Bryce Canyon in Utah, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, the Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Hawai’I Volcanoes in Hawaii, and Dry Tortugas in Florida. Each tour features info on that park's history and background and a guided exploration of the park with insights from local guides. With many national parks still closed or offering limited operations, this is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the United States without leaving home.

Head to Alaska
The city of Fairbanks, Alaska, has created a site called Explore Fairbanks where you can view virtual tours of the city's most famous attractions, including dogsledding and the Northern Lights. The digital dogsled ride here takes viewers through a wintry forest from the perspective of the musher, the dogsled's driver, allowing you to feel as if you are there right traveling along behind the dogs as they race through the snow. The tours on this site are shot with a 360-degree view so that viewers can scroll, pinch, and move around each scene.

Dive Into the Sea
The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, a government agency which protects waterways, has created Sanctuaries 360, a series of immersive underwater videos exploring different locales. In each video, a narrator takes viewers on a guided tour through that waterway. Viewers will encounter many kinds of wildlife, including sea lions, sharks, turtles, as well as coral reefs and shipwrecks. These videos can be watched with a virtual reality headset or on a mobile device, tablet, or computer.

Take a Trip to Space
This destination is one that very few people get a chance to visit in real life. You can now travel to space in a virtual reality film from National Geographic called One Strange Rock, which tours the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is a giant floating lab where astronauts from different countries live and work together with no gravity as they circle around Earth. Narrated by NASA astronauts, this film shows views of Earth from space, and explores what daily life is like inside the ISS.

Visit a Beach in Greece
If you are missing the feel of sand between your toes, check out this virtual reality video of  Myrtos Beach, considered one of the best beaches in Greece. Myrtos is located in the northwest area of Kefalonia Island along the coastline of the Ionian Sea, and is known for its turquoise waters, white sand, and abundant sunshine. In this immersive video, you can alter your view to look at the waters or gaze at the nearby mountains of Kalon Oros and Agia Dynati. As you watch this virtual tour, you can soak up the sounds of waves crashing and watch people playing in the sea.

See Ancient Egyptian Tombs
Egyptian tombs are fascinating burial places, some of which date back more than 5,000 years. The country’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities recently created virtual tours of some of its most well-known tombs featuring detailed 3-D imagery and background information. One tour shows the tomb of Meresankh III, an Egyptian queen, and includes ornate paintings and carvings. On the virtual tour of Pharaoh Ramses VI's tomb, visitors can get an in-depth view of well-preserved decorations, paintings, and writings.

Climb the Great Wall of China
One of China’s most famous attractions can be accessed via a virtual hike on the site thechinaguide.com. This 360-degree tour can be watched with a virtual reality headset or on another device. The tour spans the area of the wall from Jinshlangin to Simatai, which is known for its picturesque views.

Go on a Virtual Safari
The safari company andBeyond has made going on a safari a reality for virtual visitors. It has launched a content hub called Bringing Africa Home, where you can stream three-hour long safaris in real time. Virtual visitors to this content hub can also chat with guides and wildlife experts and explore film and other resources about South Africa.

Melanie Kletter is an educator and freelance writer and editor.  

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Micaela Ayers

I've sent this link to my 90 year old father, my niece at home with two school children, and a co-worker who can't travel the world right now to do the scuba diving she loves. Such a brilliant round-up of locations and sights! Thank you!

Posted : Oct 08, 2020 10:59

Morgan Kristal

This is terrific! Thank you so much for sharing!

Posted : Sep 16, 2020 03:26

Carrie Campbell

May I share this with students on my library Schoology page?

Posted : Sep 16, 2020 01:25



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