Travel May Still Be Tricky, but Technology Is Opening Virtual Doors

Digital tours are next best thing besides physically being there.

Jul 16, 2021 | By Joseph Low
car on the road, rocks
Credit: Dino Reichmuth / Unsplash

While the world continues to develop ways to cope with the ongoing pandemic, travel is difficult, to say the least. Restrictions, vaccination passports, and the closure of long-established flight paths all create a situation where jetting off to another country for the weekend isn’t as simple as before. Optimistic commentators note that travel won’t return to normal before 2023, and plenty of conservative estimates put the date much later.

It’s as yet uncertain when we’ll be able to dust off our passports, but thanks to technology, there are a few virtual travel tickets available. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of four of the best digital travel experiences in 2021.

Wander the Prado’s halls

Although it’s often looked over in favour of the Louvre and other European galleries, Madrid’s Prado holds its own in terms of the number of masterpieces on display and contemporary offerings. From Goya’s black series through to Picasso’s Guernica and many more in between, the Prado is rich in cultural treasures. 

Digital travellers can wander the halls and immerse themselves in centuries of Spanish and European art through Google Arts & Culture, a digital platform created in tandem with more than 2000 museums and galleries worldwide. Find the Museo Nacional del Prado’s key pieces and commentary online. 

Stream worldwide travel content

Credit: Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash

While it may come a poor second to actual travel, watching travel programs is an excellent way to gain insight into new destinations and inspiration for upcoming travel plans. Those who have exhausted their home countries’ Netflix travel catalogue can tap into a world of programming by changing countries (virtually, of course).

Geo-blocking restrictions mean certain content is only available in certain locations, but these restrictions can be skirted by using a VPN and changing the server location. 

Take an interactive trip to Dracula’s hometown

Dracula's castle
Credit: Dorothea Oldani / Unsplash

Secret Romania is a virtual travel company offering intriguing online adventures, including a Vlad the Impaler’s hometown trip. In this one-of-a-kind virtual tour, guests are tasked with solving riddles and tackling a few vampire myths while they navigate the digital escape room. Combining quiz, escape room, and tour, the novel experience can be found online here

Or, if voyagers would like to avoid the quizzical element, plenty of local tour guides are offering digital tours of Sighisoara, the Count’s once home in Transylvania.

Take a hike from the sofa

man hiking
Credit: Patrick Schneider / Unsplash

If Canada’s Banff or New Zealand’s Abel Tasman national parks aren’t on the intrepid travellers’ to-do list, they should be. Considered by many as some of the best hikes in the world, each by-foot journey offers some serious scenic rewards.

Granted, hiking virtually isn’t quite the same as physically putting one foot in front of the other, but virtual hikes have taken off in 2021. Plenty of free content on YouTube worldwide places travellers in the hiker’s shoes while other platforms offer paid digital trips. It’s a fun way to explore nature from the comfort of one’s sofa.

Ready to travel? With a laptop and an internet connection, the world is our oyster, albeit virtually, in 2021.

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