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If someone suggested taking a virtual vacation even a few years ago I would have probably said, “Pardon me, a virtual what?” But after nearly two years of navigating COVID-19, I’ve become intimately familiar with the virtual vacation. With travel restrictions and grounded flights, it’s been hard to go on any kind of vacation other than a virtual one.
If you aren’t familiar with what a virtual vacation is or how to go on one, this article is for you. Or if you’re just looking for some ideas and tips on virtual trips you can take from the comfort of your couch, this article is also for you!
What’s a Virtual Vacation?
A virtual vacation is when you explore a new destination without leaving your home. Although COVID-19 is the main reason our family has embraced virtual vacations, many reasons might prompt you to take one.
For one, travelling is expensive. Taking a virtual vacation can be a good financial choice if you don’t have the budget for a pricey flight or travel accommodations. Or maybe you have young kids. Travelling with little ones is definitely doable but it’s not easy. If you want to see something new without enduring a seven-hour flight with a screaming toddler, then a virtual vacation might be right up your alley. Perhaps you’re afraid of flying or you get carsick or seasick … or a disability or injury prevents you from easily moving around … whatever the reason, a virtual vacation can be a great substitute to the real thing.
How to Take a Virtual Vacation
First, decide where you want to go. What is your ultimate destination? One of the benefits of a virtual vacation is that you can dream big. Since you don’t have to worry about an expensive flight or hotel, there are few constraints on where you can go. So, are you feeling a tropical vibe, or perhaps you’re dreaming of a ski vacation? Take some time to think about it.
Then, figure out how you want to explore your destination of choice. There are several approaches.
Use Your Imagination
The simplest approach is to literally find a quiet space, close your eyes and imagine that you are at your vacation destination. If you are dreaming about sitting in a hot tub sipping a drink, try to mimic this in your house. Draw a bath, put on your swimsuit, turn on some music, and grab a drink. This approach is all about using your mind and your imagination.
Explore the Earth and Beyond with Google Voyager
But if you want an approach that is a little more tangible, you can use digital tools to transport you to your destination. I’ve used Google Voyager to take my kiddos on some pretty amazing Virtual field trips. With Voyager you can explore the African wildlife, visit national parks, go on an Asia tour, or blast off to outer space. Yeah, I said outer space! The visuals are amazing and the opportunity to learn is limitless. If you want to take your first virtual vacation, this is a great resource to start with.
Go on a Cultural Journey With Google Arts and Culture
If your idea of a dream vacation involves perusing museums in Europe or going on an archeological dig in search of ancient artifacts, then Google Arts and Culture is the travel guide for you. Google offers stunning visuals as well as short videos that allow you to experience breathtaking views, sites, and scenery. I used Google Arts and Culture to fulfill a lot of my quarantine travel plans and it did not disappoint.
Transport Yourself With VR
While I’ve never taken a virtual vacation using virtual reality, I have done some VR boxing and, I’ll tell you, it’s as close as you can get to the real thing (and way safer when it comes to boxing). The VR benefits are real. You can feel completely transported without ever leaving the comfort of your home. And, VR is not a thing of the future. It’s here, and there are several VR headsets on the market. If you don’t already own a VR headset then this form of virtual travel vacation will cost you some money, but it’s a minor investment when you can use it to go on multiple dream vacations. With VR you can visit your favorite movie, go back in time to ancient Greece, or go under the sea and be one with the fish.
Engage Your Senses
For me, so much of travel involves trying new cuisines and discovering new flavors. If you’re missing the food aspect of travel, try some traditional recipes from the region you’re visiting. There are tons of cookbooks for every type of global cuisine, and your local library probably has some. Assemble all the ingredients, especially the ones you’ve never heard of. (You can order anything that you can’t find at your local grocery store online.) You can likely even find online videos that show you how to prepare the food.
If cooking’s not your thing, get takeout or delivery from a restaurant that serves the regional cuisine.
Put on some traditional music from your destination to enjoy music and a meal.
Benefits of Virtual Vacations
Before you head off on a virtual vacation, know that it’s obviously not going to be the same as the real thing.
If you really love to travel, think of a virtual vacation as a planning tool for your future trip. You can do all of the prepping and pilot testing of your travel plans using the virtual vacation format so you’re ready to take flight when circumstances allow.
For me, the best part of taking a virtual vacation is that there is no packing involved. If you are a parent, you know that packing for a family trip feels like you’re moving out of your house. When you go on a virtual overseas holiday, you don’t have to worry about forgetting your kids’ favorite toy or teddy bear. You don’t have to worry about time changes or messed up sleeping patterns and you don’t have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for an airplane seat that your kid isn’t even going to sit in because they are sitting on you.
So, take a minute to dream up a destination, choose your method of travel, and sit back and actually relax on your virtual vacation.
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