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Everyday Enviro with Elise - Zero footprint travel

Date: 20-Apr-20
Author: Elise Catterall

Elise's foray into virtual travel began with a Facebook group devoted to virtually walking the Camino de Santiago. Image: Unsplash

Elise's foray into virtual travel began with a Facebook group devoted to virtually walking the Camino de Santiago. Image: Unsplash

During our Covid-19 isolation, I have been actively seeking silver linings to this challenging situation we all find ourselves in. One way I have found to lift my spirits is through travel. Now we all know that international travel – especially flights and cruises – takes a heavy toll on the environment, but I have found the perfect, environmentally friendly – and Covid-19 – friendly alternative: virtual travel.

I love to travel, and it is the one part of my ‘lifestyle’ that I am most saddened to pull back from for the sake of the environment. I have had no trouble making changes like cooking at home and walking more, adopting a plant-based diet, avoiding eco-unfriendly things like balloons, chewing gums and single use plastics, but limiting my air travel, I must admit, I’ve struggled with. I guess Covid-19 has taken that dilemma out of my hands for the time being.

So, I was very happy to discover a whole world of virtual travel options at my disposal. It started for me with a Facebook group devoted to virtually walking the Camino de Santiago, a bucket list item of mine. Every day, past walkers post their images of the respective virtual stage of walk. We virtual walkers follow along, and are encouraged to do our own local walks, but to let the posted images transport us to Spain. ¡Muy bien!

The Virtual Camino group led me to another lovely Facebook group called What do you see from your window? #Stayathome. This group spans 300,000 members from 143 countries and has everyone sending in images of the view from their window. Initially intended as a means of connection, it has become a virtual travel group, and has spawned country-specific travel advice subgroups. The lovely part of this is that you aren’t just seeing or learning about the tourist attractions and landmarks of these, you’re seeing how people really live.

If landmarks are more your thing, there are plenty of options for you. Timeout magazine recently published this collection of virtual tours of sites like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and Versailles, among others. But perhaps even topping those tours, National Geographic’s virtual collection, includes a gorgeous 360-degree tour of Hang Son Doong cave – complete with birdsong and wildlife noises; it’s sublime. The UK’s National Trust has a collection of virtual tours of its own sites that are definitely worth ‘visiting’ Then there is this list of museums and art galleries offering free virtual tours of their collections.

Earthcam is another website perfect for a bit of international sticky-beaking - a collection of live webcams around the world. You can pop in on the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Times Square in New York or the Abbey Road crossing in London. This is a lot of fun, and will be even more so once life returns to normal as there will be more to see. 

Less virtual and immersive, but still satisfying, are the numerous visual travel guides published by Expedia that you can enjoy via YouTube. Then, particularly noteworthy is the spectacular TV series, Travel Man with Richard Ayoade, in which you accompany him on a number city stays, made even more enjoyable by his brilliantly deadpan sense of humour. 

So that is how I’ll be travelling for the near future – immersing myself visually and aurally in other worlds from the comfort of my living room. Of course, they aren’t exact substitutes for the enriching, life-affirming and mind-broadening qualities of actual travel, but they definitely scratch that itch.

See you next time! - Elise

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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Elise                                             Catterall
Author: Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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