If you’ve been planning a trip that’s fallen afoul of travel restrictions, you can keep your social distance and still see the sights. Thanks to a range of online technologies, you can call up a close-up view of anything from international landmarks and world-renowned artwork to sites that played a central role in your life’s journey. Instead of abandoning your plans, expand them with a digital view of the world: one that’s always ready to immerse you in global wonder.
Visit virtually: Google Maps Street View
When you track down a destination in Google Maps, you gain access to an on-the-ground panorama of the location you specify, one that you can scroll in a 360-degree view. Car-mounted cameras capture many of these Street View scenes, and with multiple years of images on file, you can travel back in time to see trees grow, landscapes change, and storefronts gain new owners.
Whether you want to visit a family landmark or a national treasure, you can take in all these vistas on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Along the way, you’ll see unexpected moments that typify the hidden life of cities, towns, and even unoccupied spaces, as well as breathtaking tours of famous museums and other cultural sights. And if you’re an avid photographer of panoramas, you can contribute your images to the wealth of virtual international destinations.
Pick a view: Live-streaming world webcams
The first webcam monitored a coffee maker in the main computer laboratory of the University of Cambridge so students and faculty could avoid arriving to find an empty carafe. What started as a networked view became an internet sensation that garnered millions of hits.
Since then, webcams have increased exponentially in resolution and fidelity, and the scenes they present offer more interest along with additional pixels. If you know where to look, you can find high-resolution live streams that show you a world of bucket-list destinations. Do a quick web search for “live streaming webcams,” and you’ll find thousands of sources from around the world. Take a stroll through ancient Roman ruins, New York City’s Times Square, New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, or a wealth of other culturally important destinations.
Tour great museums: Google Arts and Culture
No ticket required: For an intimate digital tour of some of the world’s greatest museums and cultural sites, take a virtual trip through Google Arts and Culture. Examine works of art more closely than any in-person tour would allow. Walk through famous buildings or across the rooftops of architectural landmarks. From Montmartre in Paris to the Sydney Opera House, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and street art in U.S. cities, take the art-inspired trip of your dreams—or explore nature in all its weird and wonderful forms through natural history and famous zoos. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the decorative arts in Prague or investigate the insect kingdom in West China, you can see it all without packing a bag.
Civic views: Drone footage
As stay-at-home orders and quarantines empty the streets of some of the world’s biggest and most famous cities, their eerie quiet makes for some fascinating exploration, and drone operators are capturing footage to share. Search YouTube and other video sites for footage that shows you the architecture minus its inhabitants, in scenes that reveal landscapes that even locals rarely see. Given how drones maneuver, you’ll watch from vantage points that no other form of flight can capture, with a bird’s eye view you can replay to your heart’s content.
Enrich your perspective whenever you choose
Exceptional times call for innovative ways to expand your horizons. Just because you can’t buy a ticket and board a plane doesn’t mean you can go anywhere. With a wide range of digital assets at your disposal, now’s a great time to look beyond your living room and take your entire family along for an educational, entertaining experience.