Lifestyle article

Destination: armchair

28 February, 2021

While international borders remain closed, the possibility of jetting off around the world is unlikely in the near future. Still, there are plenty of ways to satisfy the travel-bug and fill that globetrotting void – so sit down, log-on, and explore the world!

It’s over a year since our international borders were locked and, while this wonderful country of ours offers some stunning tourist destinations, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of overseas travel. So, to whet your appetite for the sights and sounds that are still waiting for you around the world, we’ve picked five of our favourite online international travel experiences to keep you content for a little longer.

The Louvre, Paris

While The Louvre’s doors remain closed, the museum has put a whole host of virtual tours, of both its permanent and temporary exhibits, online. Tap through a walkthrough tour, or, if you have an augmented reality headset, grab your phone, slot it into your headset, and you’ll be transported to the city of love in an instant.

Harry Potter’s Edinburgh

One for the kids, big kids and adults alike, this online travel experience takes you deep into the heart of Edinburgh while riding on the Hogwarts Express. Edinburgh was where JK Rowling wrote the masterpiece series of books, and many of the locations – including ‘Diagon Alley’ – were inspired by Edinburgh’s historic buildings and streets.

Take a trip to Niagara Falls

Canada’s Niagara Falls is on many peoples’ bucket list – and while a trip to Ontario is unlikely any time soon, the good people at Niagara Falls Tourism have produced a series of online Niagara Falls experiences. From a 360 degree virtual reality helicopter trip which enables you to look in any direction, a walk behind the falls and experience the world’s most famous falls from the comfort of your living room. You’d almost believe you were there – the only thing missing is the spray from the cascading water.

Barcelona! Such a beautiful horizon

The capital of Catalonia is a spectacular place to visit, and while it faces some stiff competition from Las Ramblas and the Camp Nou among other attractions, Gaudi’s masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia is certainly top of the Barcelona charts. The online virtual tour, with audio commentary, takes in the Passion and Nativity facades, and ventures inside to, among others, the Cloister of the Rosary, the Crypt, and Gaudi’s tomb. It’s a stunning place, and despite work starting in 1882 is still, famously, ‘unfinished’.

Yoga retreat in your living room

While your idea of a break in ‘normal’ times may be a wellness trip to Bali or a retreat in a Thailand spa resort, they’re hard-pressed to translate virtually.

You can, however, plug this gap a little with some yoga into your living room – direct from India, Tibet, Bali or almost anywhere around the world. Embrace the cultural aspect as well as the mental and physical benefits, and sign up for anything up to a four-day online retreat. Many options come with self-care and healthy eating rituals too, if you want to get the full home-away-from-home experience.

Climb Machu Picchu

If a perfect combination of adventure, history, exercise and stunning scenery is more your thing, then why not beam Machu Picchu back into your home? This guided tour with running commentary enables you to delve deep into Inca civilisation and explore the historic site in 360 degrees virtual reality.

By staying at home you save the exertion of hiking the 40 kilometres – missing out on the 4200m altitude – making this UNESCO World Heritage Site far more accessible in the virtual world than it is in the real one!

International travel in a post-COVID world

The borders here in Australia are closed at least until mid-2021, with the Government warning they may remain closed until 2022.

When we can travel, however, things will naturally be different to how they were before. ‘Vaccination passports’ could become a key item to carry with us, with many countries and airlines reportedly considering mandatory vaccination requirements. Apps holding your vaccination status, could also be used for contact tracing – as well as ensuring travellers are complying with any quarantine requirement.

Airport disinfection booths could become commonplace as we travel, while when we reach our destination, it’s rumoured that sewerage testing could take place on inbound flights before passengers can disembark.

There’s a serious economic aspect to this too, with Australia seeing its tourism revenue decline by $35 billion in the first ten months of 2020, the opening of international borders will almost certainly boost the economy.1

1 World Travel and Tourism Council