Around the World: Virtual Travel is For When You Really Can’t Really Get There
Even if you’re a dedicated tourist, sometimes it’s just too difficult to get where you really want to go.
You may find that your favored destination is beyond your current budget, or that it doesn’t provide the kind of accessibility you may require, or that you’ve had to cancel a planned trip because you’ve been temporarily disabled by an accident or illness. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to get past the misfortunes that impede tourism and
keep you at home.
Or, there are those who love to go abroad, who could and would set off for an extreme adventure in a heartbeat, but their significant others are serious stay-at-homes who won’t budge when a faraway destination is suggested. You may not want to leave home without them.
No matter what the reason for curtailing travel may be, the result is disappointment and frustration. But don’t let it get to you!
The situation calls for virtual travel, for getting to remote places and enjoying thrilling adventures via the use of modern technology that you imbue with your vivid imagination. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s affordable. It’s accessible to all.
It’s cinema. And, you can look at it as a travel adventure on big screens in local theaters, or from the comfort of your couch, right at home.
Actually, thinking about cinema as travel isn’t a new notion. Ever since Robert Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” brought audiences to the Arctic Circle in 1922, movie goers have been discovering new and fascinating places in movie theaters. Since then, our enhanced imaging and sound technology has made virtual travel via the movies even more alluring and satisfying. With 3D and digital effects – and a strong application of imagination -- it’s almost like being there, or even like arriving in places you couldn’t possibly get to, like inside a volcano or outer space.
Just pick a destination, and off you go – to the Internet, where you type “movies located in [Italy, Botswana, Peru, Antarctica or Outer Space],” and click. Most likely you’ll be taken to a Wikipedia page with listings of films that may be currently screening a theaters or available on DVD or demand – or may be harder to find. To find a film’s availability, pick a title and type it into your browser’s search box.
For the above mentioned destinations, you can see “Under The Tuscan Sun,” a trip through Italian small towns and vineyards. Or, “The Gods Must Be Crazy ”takes on an African cultural safari. Or, any of the three onscreen iterations of “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” which take you high into the Andes of Peru. Or, “Ice People,” a documentary exploration of Antarctica following the scientists who discover new life forms. Or the newly released “Apollo 11” for space-based views of the Earth and Moon revealed in footage shot by the astronauts, themselves.
Type those titles into your Web browser for further details. You’ll find that these films can all be easily accessed for viewing, and they all have really good stories that enhance your virtual travel experience.
And, of course, there are also all the James Bond actioners and other thrillers that tour you around the globe. Or DisneyNature’s sweeping environmental movies that take you to observe polar bears in ice-clad Svalbard or to track elephants in Africa or swim with whales in the ocean’s depths.
Of course, if you’re viewing at home, set up the best circumstances you can -- comfy armchair in front of the largest screen with best definition and sound you can afford, lights and cell phone off -- to seek full immersion, following your conscious decision that you’re setting off on a travel adventure, albeit a virtual one.
Browsing the Internet will also lead you to adventures that are accessible on line, on the spot. And, then, if you’re into the new technologies, you can use virtual reality headsets to really immerse yourself in specially prepared travel programs and games that really put you into the action – sometimes to a dizzying degree.
Or, the Armchair Travel Company (www.armchair-travel.com) features online-accessible interactive virtual tours of the Taj Mahal, Kew Gardens, St. Paul’s Cathedral and other intriguing destinations with sweeping panoramic views, access to close up inspection and guide notes to tell you all about the places you’re visiting virtually. There’s no streaming, so the site doesn’t require much computer power or skills. One shortcoming: there’s no audio, so you don‘t get the full ambience -- cyber-wise,
When you explore YouTube travel videos, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped on a tour bus with strangers -- some turn out to have interesting points of view, others are duds. Whether the clips are high quality shorts or roughly shot vacation videos, they still give you a sense of what it was and is like to be at that destination.
Again, with the caveat that nothing beats actually being there, you can surf the Internet to visit bustling cities and isolated beaches, museums and boutiques, state fairs and theme parks -- or go on safari game drives through African game preserves or on a cruise in the ice-y waters of Antarctica.
Virtual adventures serve as escapes for those who cannot journey far from home, or may spire those who can to venture further when they travel, or boost the travel appetite of loved ones who tend to lag behind. Set out on your journey solo, or invite family and friends to join in the trip.
Bon voyage into the virtual world.