If you are still leery about jumping on a plane and going somewhere, or you can’t afford a whirlwind trip to the far corners of the world, try these out and see the world from the safety and comfort of your home. Though nothing beats actually going to these places, the virtual way can either curb those feelings of wanderlust or give you a scorching case of it. Either way, keep your tray table in whatever position you’d like, and enjoy your trip!

Virtual tours

While many museums, art galleries and zoos have opted for a virtual tour option since the start of the pandemic, sometimes bulking up online offerings they already had, there are also many virtual hikes out there that use 360-degree photos and videos with audio or written commentary describing what you’re looking at and the significance of it.

If you’re still not quite ready for winter weather, take a journey through the ancient city of Petra with a Google Street View walk through complete with an audio track explaining the historical significance of the places you see. Once you’re done living out your Indiana Jones fantasies, head to the other side of the world to Machu Picchu through youvisit.com and roam virtually around the stunning Incan ruins, again with an audio commentary to fully immerse yourself in the historic significance of the place high in the mountains of Peru.

Closer to home, there is a huge virtual hiking site of Yosemite National Park that you can easily spend hours wandering around. With more than just a few 360 degree views of outlooks, virtualyosemite.org takes online visitors on a journey through not only the highlights of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley but also out other areas of the Sierras like Mono Lake, Chilnualna Falls, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, fall colors along Mill Creek, the historic mining town of Brodie and much more.

Amazon explore

If you want something a bit more personal, the online juggernaut has paid experiences where you can take part in livestreamed, interactive private and semi-private tours led by locals. Besides just walking around a particular city or town, you can also take a lesson in cooking or cocktails from experts based in the region you’re interested in. You can even shop virtually for souvenirs.

Prices vary depending on experiences, duration and location, but there is a whole range of $10 deals to try out. Just click on where you want to go, pick a day and a time, and you’ll be on your way to learning about the place of your choice, conversing with the locals and experiencing more than you thought you could from a recliner.

You will need an Amazon account and a computer — the experience won’t work on a phone or tablet — as well as a high-speed internet connection of 5 mbps or higher. Also make sure you have a microphone that works or headphones with a mic on them so you can chat with your host.

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You can even become a host yourself and take other virtual visitors on a tour of your favorite spot or teach them something new.

From the historic streets of Rome to learning about Zen in Kyoto, the sky, or at least your internet connection, is the limit.

Webcams

Maybe you just want some ambient views to take a look at while you toil away at your work-from-home setup.

There are thousands of webcams out there depending on where you want to “go” that you can easily pop on in the background.

Check out Sydney Harbor with webcamsydney.com. Just remember that there is a substantial time difference and they’re already in tomorrow. When you think about it, it’s kind of like time travel. Regardless of the time you catch the feed, the harbor is stunning.

Many National Parks right here in the good ol’ US of A also have webcams. They refresh every minute or so, so it’s not quite like watching a livestream, but you can get glimpses at the majesty of places like Crater Lake, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon The cams are run through the NPS websites so they’re easy to find as well.

For more variety, the website earthcam.com has a massive collection of webcams from around the globe, so depending on where you’d like to go, you can find a live feed whether it’s bustling Times Square in New York, the Western Wall in Jerusalem or a white sandy beach of the Caribbean, you can find pretty much anything. Explore.org also has a variety of webcams to check out that go beyond your basic tourist destinations. Here you can also catch feeds from animal sanctuaries, underwater cams, watch for the Northern Lights and more. Many of these also have sound meaning you can feel even more immersed.

And if you’ve been envious of all the billionaires going to space, you can get a more out of this world experience and check out the live feeds from the International Space Station through nasa.gov.

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Reporter: 541-383-0304, mwhittle@bendbulletin.com

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