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The Truth About Virtual Travel

The Truth About Virtual Travel

In recent months, the concept of “travel from home” has gained notoriety, largely out of necessity. However, if you’re expecting a fully immerse virtual reality experience, you might have spent too much time watching Black Mirror, and not enough reading reputable technology publications.

This is not to say, of course, that virtual travel experiences such as videos and photos (and, certainly, blogs!) don’t have their places, and can’t help fill the proverbial gap when people are unable to travel. Traveling from home, if it does nothing else, provides inspirational fuel for future in-person trips.

Continue reading to learn about the past, present and future of in-home travel experiences. I’ll also give you some ideas about how to best enjoy them if you still can’t (or simply don’t want to) travel.

Travel Blogs and Virtual Travel

As a travel blogger, it would be hypocritical for me to fully discount the appeal of travel from home, let alone its potential. After all, if words and images didn’t sufficiently transport people in some way, I would’ve been out of business long ago. At the same time, until we get to a place closer to “San Junipero” than to San Francisco, traveling via fiber optics cables will merely serve inspire travel via airplanes, rater than replace or even supplement it.

This is important to acknowledge—to admit—because as the travel industry’s hobble back to normality proves slower than expected, we need to be realistic about what we’ve lost. It will only be when people realize how impossible it is to replace the sensation of feeling to proverbial sand between one’s toes that we chart a path back to where we were circa 2019 with the urgency the task requires. With this being said, virtual travel is an expanding field, and one with a lot of promise.

The Best Ways to Travel Virtually

Watch travel videos

Although videos are currently able to present just two of the five physical senses, what you see and hear in them can evoke tastes, smells and tactile sensations. Haven’t we all watched travel videos that almost make you feel like you’re there. I’m not just talking about slickly-produced TV series, either. Some of the best travel reportage is shot on grainy cellphones and narrated in an impromptu way, lending it an almost visceral intimacy.

Book virtual tours

The most explicit way to travel from home is to book a virtual tour. Embarking on one of these takes the concept of the travel video up a notch, since the person giving the tour is speaking to you in real time, and crafting his or her message with you in mind. Personally, I can see virtual tours gaining massively in popularity as VR experiences become more immerse and inclusive of all the senses!

Win big without leaving home

Casinos tend to be among the hardest places in the world to social distance, which means it might take months or even years after you begin traveling again before you’re able to safely try your luck. The good news is that the gaming space was one of the first to go online, and as a result is already extremely advanced in how it approximates the real world. Why don’t you take a look at some of the best betting sites to see what I mean?

Avail VR experiences

I referenced VR a few paragraphs up, and while this technology is still nascent, it can help you travel from home if you have a headset in your house. At the moment, this is primarily as a result of 3D imaging and ultra HD sound, which can fool you into thinking you’re “really” in a place, at least if you suspend disbelief for a moment. While I do think it will take decades for virtual reality to closely approximate real reality, I think improvements will at least begin in earnest much sooner than that.

Read travel blogs (one in particular)

Videos, virtual tours and VR are fine and dandy, but who says you have to go high tech to transport yourself? Sometimes, vivid photography and prose (and maybe even just the writing, if it’s good enough) creates such a sensation in your imagination that you not only travel somewhere else on the planet, but another dimension entirely. I don’t say this as an unbiased observer, either: I want you to continue returning to Leave Your Daily Hell often, even when things are fully back to how they were!

FAQ About Virtual Travel

How do you travel the world virtually?

At the present time, it’s not possible to approximate the experience of in-the-flesh world travel virtually. However, by watching videos, looking at pictures, taking virtual tours and reading travel blog posts, you can use digital tools to gain inspiration and insight for your in-person trips.

Are virtual tours worth it?

As is the case with virtual travel more general, virtual tours are more educational than they are experiential. I generally don’t recommend them to replace a real tour, but rather to give you a taste of a place you’re likely to visit in the future when it’s safe and easy to do so again.

Will virtual reality replace travel?

If virtual reality technology ever advances to the point where it is indistinguishable from life in the real world, it is possible that real travel will no longer be necessary or desirable. On the other hand, I don’t see this happening within my lifetime, so I don’t concern myself much with thinking about it.

The Bottom Line

The bad news? Travel from home still leaves a lot to be desired, especially if your expectations of it are born more out of science fiction than science fact. The good news? Traveling virtually certainly serves a purpose, particularly during times where real travel is difficult or impossible. If you’re willing to operate within this paradigm, I think you’ll find that innovations in home-based travel will enhance your life, both during boring times confined in your home, as well as future travel out in the real world. If you have your own opinions about traveling in this way, I’d love to read them in a comment below!


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