How to travel the world without leaving your house

Kristine Tarbert
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

It’s been many weeks of self-isolation now, and whether your long weekend plans were ruined, or you’ve had to postpone that summer trip to Europe, you don’t have to give up on your travel plans all together.

At least not the ‘Where do we go first’ bucket list plans many are no doubt busy compiling.

While it may yet be some time before we can start to officially explore again, the best way to get inspired right now is to travel the world virtually, from the comfort of your lounge room.

We might be stuck at home but we can still dream of travel. Photo: Getty

Take a moment to dream a little and imagine where your next adventure could take you when this is all over.

A moment of escapism at a time like this is vital. So we’ve rounded up some of the best virtual experiences in Australia and around the globe that you can check out rain, hail or shine.

Australia

Queensland

Art and culture enthusiasts are invited to take a virtual tour or check out a virtual exhibition at some of Queensland’s best cultural hubs such as The Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern ArtQueensland Museum or Queensland Air Museum. The Queensland Ballet has also announced they will be offering free online ballet classes while Camerata, Queensland's Chamber Orchestra, are running a 5@5 initiative on their Facebook page which sees artists perform live for five minutes each day at 5pm.

For wildlife-lovers SeaLife Sunshine Coast are live streaming from their Facebook page to introduce viewers to the different animals and creatures that live at the aquarium and provide educational talks, while Cockatours in Cairns are streaming free ecology talks, also from their Facebook page. Splitters Farm in Bundaberg is offering a real-life learning experience for the family, bringing rescued farm animals into living rooms in a Facebook Live video stream each weekday at 10am. People can tune in to watch the crocodiles feed at Koorana Crocodile Farm, and educational videos featuring different animals are being posted to the Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook page. And for an ‘anytime’ animal-fix, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary website hosts a range of webcams where people can watch koalas snacking on Eucalyptus leaves, dingo puppies playing and platypus swimming.

You can also dive in to Queensland’s most iconic destination, The Great Barrier Reef, from above and below the water with this video. Queensland’s YouTube channel also provides a range of informative and inspiring videos, including incredible 360-degree views of some Queensland’s other amazing destinations.

Dive in to Queensland’s most iconic destination, The Great Barrier Reef virtually. Photo: Getty

New South Wales

The Red Book and Sydney Opera House: Inspirations at Sydney Opera House. It’s one of the most iconic buildings in the world. Where did Jorn Utzon’s inspiration come from? What did his early sketches look like? Go back to the beginning of the design process with these two fascinating exhibitions. 

The Evolution of Swan Lake at The Australian Ballet Company. The most famous ballet in the world was first performed by The Australian Ballet Company in the 1960s and has since been performed a number of times, reflecting the vision of the current director and trends in fashion at the time. A must for lovers of dance. 

THEN at White Rabbit: If you missed out on the fantastic exhibition that was shown earlier this year, of the first ten years at White Rabbit Gallery, this is a great opportunity to catch up. The 360 virtual tour lets you walk around each room in the exhibition. 

America

Texas

The Lone Star State is a diverse hub of experiences, culture and nature and its virtual experiences can give you a little taste of it all.

Austin is now bringing its legendary Fusebox festival online. The weekend-long virtual broadcast takes place 24-26 April – featuring live-streamed performances, conversations, and studio visits.

Experience some of Texas’ fascinating history through a virtual tour of the Alamo, located in downtown San Antonio. Founded in 1718 as the first mission in San Antonio, the Alamo served as a way station between east Texas and Mexico. Now, visitors can virtually explore the 4.2-acre complex, including the beautiful grounds and hidden chambers nestled throughout the mission. 

The Lone Star State is a diverse hub of experiences, culture and nature. Photo: Getty

Seattle

The Emerald City is pulling out all the stops to bring a little of it’s culture and top attractions to you. 

Home to music legends Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain, it’s no surprise Seattle is renowned for its incredibly diverse range of live music. With musicians now unable to perform in their usual haunts, local Seattle acts have begun livestream their home concerts online. Housed on a Virtual Concert Calendar which has been curated by a Pacific Northwest company, Artist Home,  people can tune into a new show almost every day of the week.

For a little adventure, the Museum of Flight allows users to take a virtual, 3D tour through some of its iconic aircrafts. Users can take a self-guided stroll through the sleek interiors of Air Force One where presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon met face-to-face with world leaders; take a peek into the cockpit of the world’s largest single-engine biplane, Antonov An-2; and experience what it was like inside the NASA Space Shuttle, with a full-scale mockup of the space shuttle orbiter used for astronaut training and systems familiarisation.   

Las Vegas

Wishing you were experiencing Vegas’ epic nightlife right now? Park MGM has just announced they will be bringing their legendary Wednesday night festivities online (Thursdays for us). ‘The Wednesday Spin’ will go live on Park MGM’s Instagram account here, featuring three hours of tunes from the Strip’s best DJs.

With six residencies, the Entertainment Capital of the World is renowned as one of the best places to catch a Cirque show, and now the company is bringing a little of its acrobatic magic to the virtual world. CirqueConnect, a new digital content hub housed on the Cirque du Soleil website, features tutorials from amazing Cirque artists, virtual reality experiences and an incredible hour-long compilation of highlights from its iconic shows.

Las Vegas may be shut down in real life, but online the party doesn't stop. Photo: Getty

Explore one of Vegas’ coolest Downtown museums - at the touch of a button - with the Neon Museum app (password: NEON) now allowing users to virtually experience vintage Vegas through its neon signs and bright lights.

The Mob Museum has also released an app allowing users to take an interactive, in-depth history lesson as they journey through some of the museum’s most popular organised crime and law enforcement exhibits.

Grand Canyon

There are plenty of pictures of the famed canyon online, but get a little deeper with a VR archaeological tour. This allows armchair travellers to explore and learn more about the history behind the canyon’s formation by clicking on different geological features.

If the Grand Canyon isn't on your bucket list yet, add it now. Photo: Getty

Joshua Tree National Park

With nearly 800,000 acres of mystical beauty, Joshua Tree National Park is undoubtedly one of the world’s most incredible natural desert treasures. Sweeping, grand in scale and populated by granite monoliths and voluptuous rock and boulder formations, the park offers wonder to eco-travellers, outdoor adventurists and naturalists. Explore Joshua Tree from your couch and then add it to you bucket list for your next Palm Springs visit.

New York

Just because you can’t visit in person right now, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the sights.

New York State is brimming with world-class museums, striking natural landscapes and cultural sites. Visit iloveny.com for videos and virtual tours.

Explore the Griffis Sculpture Park in Chautauqua-Allegheny via this drone video. Or check out NYC’s green centrepiece Central Park which is also available to tour online. Not only does it show you the sites, it also comes with a guide who talks you through significant events in Central Park’s history as you “travel” from the West 72nd entrance.

Central Park as we want to remember it. Photo: Getty

One of the state’s most famous natural wonders is Niagara Falls and its surrounding State Park. This YouTube video allows an up close view of the Falls, the famed Maid of the Mist boat visit, the Cave of the Winds (which takes visitors within metres of the crashing Falls) and a helicopter ride over the Falls.

Europe

Paris

Visit the famous Le Musee du Louvre, and explore the world’s largest art and antiques museum. You might not be able to walk around its famous glass exterior, but you can learn about the collections via a number of virtual tours, including on the Egyptian antiquities and the Galerie d’Apollon.

The Meudon Observatory Solar Tower also offers a live webcam that gives a full view of Paris, including some unmissable sunrise and sunsets.

Check out the sunset over Paris via webcam. Photo: Getty

England

Always wanted to visit Stonehenge? Take an interactive tour with the English Heritage 360-degree view from inside the monument, or switch to Skyscape to see a live view from within the stones.

And if it’s a taste of the royal life you’re after you can also explore Buckingham Palace virtually, a privilege given that it is normally only open for tours for two months each year. Google Arts & Culture has created a thorough virtual tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, complete with dozens of beautiful gowns from famous designers - from a reception originally held during London Fashion Week in 2018.

Ireland

Fancy watching the sun set over the famous Cliffs of Moher in Ireland? You can take a virtual tour of the famous Irish geological landmark, which captures 360-degree views and even has virtual reality headset capability for a fully immersive experience.

Asia

Japan

Check out this 360-degree VR movie from the Japan National Tourism Organization, which takes you on a wide-ranging tour of the country. There is a live feed of Shibuya Crossing, in Tokyo, or for something a little less hectic try the live feed of a Kyoto cat cafe, or a live feed of white storks during hatching season.

And of course no Japan bucket list is complete without checking out this Cherry blossom live feed. Or this one. Or this one.

There are so many Cherry Blossom live feeds online. Photo: Getty

Mount Everest, Nepal

Known in Nepali as Sagarmatha and Tibetan as Chomolungma, the world’s highest peak sits on the border between Nepal and China. Explore Everest’s south base camp in Nepal, at an altitude of 5,380 metres, with interactive 360-degree views of snowy peaks and colourful prayer flags.

Via an interactive map you can gaze at the 8,848-metre summit, plus other Himalayan peaks stretching west into Pakistan and east to Bhutan.

Views from other peaks, including over the Imja River and mountain villages, are visible in these 360 degree images.

The Maldives

Enjoy the calming waters around The Maldives from the sunbeds at the Kuredu Island Resort or stream live underwater images from the Innahura seabed.

South Pacific

New Caledonia

New Caledonia Tourism and its partners have a collection of videos available via YouTube and online that are perfect for exploring the South Pacific destination from home.

Take a helicopter flight over the Heart of Voh, a natural, heart-shaped formations in the mangroves of New Caledonia’s West Coast, made famous by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand in the 90s

Kayak the lagoons of New Caledonia’s north – six parts of New Caledonia’s lagoons were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. This video takes you out on the water, and shows off views of one of the north’s landmarks – La Poule, a hen-shaped rock formation.

Visit capital city Noumea, including its beaches, market, main square and other nearby attractions – a perfect way to familiarise yourself before you visit.

Vanuatu

The Vanuatu Tourism Office will share a range of #VanuatuMoments featuring locals helping to keep Vanuatu beautiful, on its Facebook and Instagram channels.

The campaign message and promise “we’ll keep it beautiful for you.”

You can also check out the Ambrym volcano via this virtual tour that ventures down into one of the world’s most active volcanoes, just a few metres from a churning 1,200C lava lake.

The short interactive film joins the team as they prepare for the expedition, travel to base camp, up to the rim beyond the jungle, into the ash plain, and abseil down into the crevice, sitting just 60m away from the lava.

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