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One of my favourite activities in the past months was virtual traveling. Like everyone else, I miss traveling, and visiting a country, even on a screen, satisfies this need a bit, right? There are quite a few virtual experiences that one can undertake from the safety of the couch: you can virtually visit well-known landmarks from all over the world, virtually attend concerts, visit museums, dive among coral reefs or watch animals at a zoo. But that’s not the kind of experiences I’m going to talk about today.

Alessund Norway

I am virtually visiting the world one country at a time, getting to know a bit of the geography, history and culture of that country during my online exploration.

One reason I’m doing this is because I miss traveling, indeed, but there is a second reason: I feel I lack variety in my media consumption. I live in a too tight bubble, where everyone seems to like the same things, create the same things. Everyone looks the same, talks the same, thinks the same. So I decided to explore the world, searching for different approaches, fresh ideas, looking to expose myself to different cultures, different ways of living. Every week or so I pick a country; sometimes one that I know about, other times one I can’t even locate on a map.

And then I dive in.

Portugal beach

I developed a process for my virtual travelling, and it’s working wonderfully for me. First, I identify the country where I will travel virtually on the map. After that I read about it on Wikipedia, which can take a while, since you can go deeper with any of the ideas presented there. The next step is to check the main tourist websites, identifying the places and things that are representative for the country. This is supplemented with checking Google Maps, street views, YouTube videos about those areas. If the country is not in the mainstream tourism circuit, is more difficult to find enough visual information, but not impossible. During this step I also learn about traditions and food.

­It’s interesting to check the museums as well; even if only a few offer virtual visits, I can read about their collections and learn so much about a country from this! It fascinates me what each nation deems worthy of being proud of, what they choose to put on display for the visitors.

I listen to music from that country, modern and traditional. I look for local and expat bloggers and read their articles. I translate the local blogs so some information gets lost in translation, but it still gives me a good idea about the subject.

Another important step is to find out about the most important writers, artists and actors. This can easily become a lengthy process, and you can imagine why. I try to find a book and a movie from the country to read and watch. Or at least read a few reviews of them (because time is limited, books are not always translated, movies are not always available).

I also research everything I can about the country on Instagram; I want to see what people share, how they dress, what they eat, how they live. Or at least what they consider fit to be shared on the curated social media profiles. I look for tags in the country’s language – when I started I was looking only for tags in English and I realised how limited my approach was, when I couldn’t find much information for some places.

Dubai skyline

Instagram concludes my search, and then I’m ready for a new country. Some countries get a lot of my time, I resonate with them, and then I keep going back to songs, images, books. Other times I read, I learn, and move on, but every country I discover is interesting for various reasons. After having researched a few countries, I realised my wanderlust was only growing, instead of being diminished. So many places to see, cultures to learn about, and things to explore! I know it won’t be possible to see and experience all of them live, so I am grateful that I can at least do these virtual visits.

Hopefully you will be inspired by my virtual travel project and start your own. You don’t need to learn about the whole world, just pick a few countries you’ve always wanted to visit or to know more about. Let me know if you’ve discovered something breathtaking!

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1 Comment

  1. Michał

    You can do Article about #geocaching 🙂 “How to do local traveling if everything is closed” 🙂

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