Reality Check: Is Virtual Travel the New Normal?

Depending on your location, you’re likely beginning to notice shelter in place restrictions being lifted and businesses cautiously reopening their doors to the public. One of the hardest hit industries is travel and tourism. There are still several ongoing international travel bans applying to those trying to enter the US, and many will only be able to fly into predetermined points of entry. Airlines are feeling the squeeze and will likely operate at a limited capacity for the rest of 2020, or until it’s deemed safer to allow for additional flight bookings while maintaining social distance.

We know adventurers like you are itching to get back out there and do what you do best: checking coveted destinations off your list. For some, it may require halting or rescheduling upcoming travel plans due to the ongoing pandemic, which can be disheartening for travel enthusiasts. But fear not, there are some alternatives that allow you to explore distant lands from the comfort of your own couch.

The concept of virtual travel has been around for years, but it has increased in popularity since the beginning of 2020, likely due to tourists who had to forego their travel plans for the foreseeable future. Travel destinations can be made into an immersive experience by means of a virtual reality headset, but there are some caveats involved in this method of travel. The headset can be heavy and uncomfortable for a prolonged period of wear, or cause dizziness and nausea in some.

Virtual Reality (VR) researchers are working to create special body suits that can mimic at least some of the sensations you’d get from an in-person travel experience, but the technology falls a bit short and doesn’t currently allow for the immersive smell and taste sensations like you’d get in person. If it were us, we’d miss the droolworthy food experiences that usually go along with traveling to a new destination. Also, VR doesn’t always allow users to personalize their own itineraries or go off the beaten path. One option that may allow for a longer, more tourist-like experience is to take a virtual walking tour (many are free on YouTube) that allows for a longer, more realistic experience so you can get your travel fix without any extra equipment.

On the upside, virtual travel does allow for a more eco-friendly experience and gives access to new and exciting destinations for those who may not physically be able to hop on a plane. One additional positive to checking out your desired destination through videos or VR experiences is that you get to ‘try before you buy.’ For extended walking tours, you can also take note of additional places you see along the way and add them to your itinerary for when you’re able to make the in-person trip in the future. Think of it as pre-planning, and you’ll be ahead of the game!

Lively Co. Travel is now booking cruise vacations for 2021, and we’d love to help you plan your next great adventure! Give us a call or shoot us an email for more details.

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