Window-Swap's virtual travel rooms are the best way to experience travel at home.
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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
I first heard of Window-Swap from a friend (and, to be clear, they've never heard of me - this isn't an advertorial.) Window-Swap is a free website that's steadily gaining buzz for a decidedly simple yet brilliant idea. It invites you to gaze out someone's window. People from all over the world submit short videos of the view. Window-Swap's staff screen them for quality. And curious, nosy, and just plain bored people from around the world watch them at their leisure. One minute, you might be looking out over a busy street in Athens, the next you might be taking in a quiet country scene in Montana. Or, like me, you might be checking out a frost covered city street in Finland.
It's free, it couldn't be easier, and it may just be the coziest travel website I've ever seen. In case you want to add a bit of WindowSwap's travel magic to your social media feed, they also feature still images on their Instagram account. That's where I discovered Helpi's nordic winter landscape all for myself.
While many of the video views Window-Swap offers are indeed breathtaking, some of the best are scenes from ordinary life. While working on this blog post, I paused to watch someone try to parallel park in Jersey City, saw laundry dancing on a clotheslines in a Los Angeles backyard, and followed shoppers as they made their way home on the residential streets of Berlin. In addition to enjoying a virtual gaze out someone's window, you often get treated to a glimpse of their house as well. Window ledge knick-knacks, light-loving plants, and curious pets are all part of the fun.
Participants in more than 175 countries have submitted videos, which really does make this the perfect site for people who love cozy travel (uh, that's you and me!) Today alone, I saw a fluffy white cat try to figure out its owner's camera while the sun rose in Verona, Italy. I listened to the birds sing in a thorny acacia tree as the sun went down in Roodepoort, South Africa. And I checked out the sites and sounds of Mumbai from a snug high-rise balcony. It's all a far cry from my grey, overcast view in Ottawa and, best of all, this kind of travel is completely COVID-compliant.
I should mention that, despite having the word "Swap" in its name, no one is under any obligation to swap views or submit their own video. There are plenty of folks, like me, who are happy to just sit and watch. If you're missing travel and feeling a bit of cabin-fever (or, post-pandemic, you'd just like to take a bit of a breather and enjoy the sites and sounds of another country), Window-Swap is the nicest way to do so. For a website that's all about just taking in the ordinary, everyday, unremarkable views from people's homes, there sure is a lot of travel magic to be found.
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