These virtual travel rooms come with a view - and plenty of everyday comforts.
If winter-haters had the opportunity to soak in the snow-clad streets outside Helpi's house in Hämeenlinna, Finland, they might just find themselves converted to the season. Tall, lacy trees shrug under the weight of ice, each branch individually painted a soft, silvery white. A thick, fluffy layer of snow muffles sounds and erases footprints. Meanwhile, the soft glow of the streetlights provides a timeless quality. Disney itself couldn't come up with a better backdrop if they were imagining their ideal winter wonderland.
Now Helpi, along with thousands of other travel lovers, are welcoming virtual guests into their homes, just to take in the view. It's all thanks to a super-cozy travel site called Window-Swap.com
If you can't go around the world, it's time to bring to world over to you. These virtual travel gifts are perfect for everyone on your Christmas wish list.
Have you ever had one of those crazy travel days where you wake up in one country, have lunch in a second, and go to bed in a third? I've been there, and more than once. What these days offer in exhilaration, they take away in exhaustion! However, ever since the advent of COVID-19, these multi-jurisdictional travel adventures are more accessible - and rejuvenating - than ever, thanks to virtual tourism activities.
There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of virtual activities and the travel world is the better for it. Alas, it would be impossible to list every possible remote adventure here but, with Christmas around the corner, I've rounded up some of my favourite selections to help you find the perfect cozy travel-inspired gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.
Gifting virtual travel experiences isn't just a great way to get your shopping done without stepping foot into a mall. Virtual gifts have a very low carbon footprint, they don't require standing in line at the post office, and they're a creative way to support small businesses. Plus, when you do get to travel again, you'll have a fun story to share if you meet up with these companies in person.
Connect with llamas over Zoom
Fatigued by endless online meetings and Zoom social hours? Maybe you'd feel differently if you were joined by a cheery llama, or perhaps an alpaca or another barnyard companion.
Many petting zoos, farms, and animal sanctuaries now offer you the option of adding one of their furry friends to your next online meeting for a small fee. They receive valuable funds and you get invaluable FUN, the kind that only comes when you're hanging out with a llama. Online. During work.
Perfect for: The office Christmas gift exchange.
One place to try: Sweet Farm animal sanctuary in California.
A new book highlights Canadian craft spirits - and the cozy distilleries that make them, just in time for the pandemic.
What’s your lockdown libation of choice?
In my pre-pandemic life, I often kept things simple -- and alcohol free. My tipple of choice was a mix of cranberry juice and ginger ale. A pretty, refreshing blend, it never failed to remind me of travel. After all, ginger ale is this queasy girl’s best friend! But these days, there’s just something about, well, EVERYTHING that has me reaching for a stronger beverage to imbibe. Drowning sorrows and remembering simpler times? I can get behind that.
I’m craving something tangy, herbaceous, and travel-y. The mix of gin, lemon, and elderflower I had at Sydney’s New South Wales Art Gallery the night I heard Rolling Stone writer Toby Creswell speak about the origins of American rock and roll comes to mind. Or perhaps I’m really hankering after a generic frothy blender concoction like the one I sipped in a Bangkok infinity pool, where the overpriced slush diluted my fears of ice and waterborne diseases. Heck, maybe a classic Sex And The City-style cosmopolitan would do the trick, so long as I call it a quaran-tini. Ginger ale just doesn’t cut it anymore. And I’m not the only one who feels this way!
When planes and plans are grounded, it's time for travel lovers to help others - and themselves.
On March 12, 2020, I told friends that it felt like a tiny part of me had died.
After weeks of distressing reports about the spread of COVID-19 - and an equal amount of time whereby I stoutly resolved to keep calm and carry on - the writing was on the wall. There was clearly no way that I would be able to take a long-hoped for trip to Paris in April.
This wasn't just any trip. This was THE trip. I was turning 40 and I was moving to Paris - solo! - for a month, to write and eat and dream. Bookended by a layover in London and a trip to the United States, it was due to be my longest solo adventure since I was 24 years old. Until, of course, it wasn't. I say I made the decision not to go, but in reality the decision was made for me. Within 24 hours of my choice to withdraw, borders were closing, the news cycle went into overdrive, and I hunkered down into my home, happily choosing social distancing for everyone's benefit.
I felt like a tiny part of me had died. And I was filled with shame.
What right did I have to be crying (and let me tell you, there was crying) over missed macarons and museums when people were dying, when people's entire livelihoods were evaporating in front of them? I thought of the people of Italy, an entire nation quarantined, finding solace in community song, joining their voices together from the safe distance of apartment balconies to comfort one another in their grief. What right did I have to feel sad?
But my online community disagreed. Several people reached out to say that it's both normal and expected to feel sorrow for those in need and to also be sad that someone you really wanted did not work out. That it's okay to feel blue when your dream dies, even if it was a dream built on pretty, dainty, cozy things, and you can still have tremendous empathy for those who are also suffering in their own way. Pandemic self-care for travel lovers can acknowledge and incorporate both.
On the banks of the Chobe River, an elephant mourning ritual shows that the cycle of life and death has never been so raw.
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