Virtual Travel

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Virtual Travel:

Exploring the World from the Comfort of your Home

By Ronni Kenoian, Manager of Marketing and Ecommerce for InsureMyTrip

As we practice social distancing, opportunities for travel and new experiences can feel limited. However, with a little creativity and help from technology, you can travel almost anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.

According to Google Keyword Planner data, the rise in searches for ‘Virtual Tour’ increased 7x to almost 10,000 in March      – when governments around the world began implementing country and city lockdowns – compared to only 1,300 in February.

Some of the tours which saw the greatest number of Google search increases included:

Top ten most popular virtual tours
Virtual tourIncrease in Google searches
The Louvre3560
San Diego Zoo710
Disney World470
Great Wall of China470
The Guggenheim380
Google Arts Project: Street Art330
The Eiffel Tower310
The Metropolitan Museum of Art100
Georgia Aquarium100
The London National Gallery90

Considering these findings, InsureMyTrip created a list of the top virtual tours based on factors like realism, uniqueness and which are seeing the biggest increases in Google searches since the beginning of March.

Here are some of its top recommendations below:

For the Art Enthusiast

Feel like spending a day at the museum? Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to bring priceless art and experiences into your living room.

From the Guggenheim (380 search increases) in New York City to London’s National Gallery (100 search increases), the possibilities are nearly endless. Most museums allow you to walk the halls of the institution using “street view,” making for a more realistic experience. If you are feeling overwhelmed by choices, Google offers a quick link to their top 10 virtual museums.

For those wanting to dive deeper into the art, some museums, like the Louvre (3,560 search increases), offer more detailed virtual tours on their websites. And others, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art (310 search increases), further enhance what visitors would see in person with additional interactive offerings.

For art lovers who prefer an urban adventure, Google Arts Project: Street Art (330 search increases) explores the world’s greatest graffiti and the stories behind it. Viewers can take virtual walking tours, view online exhibitions, and learn about the artists themselves through interactive features.

For the Adventurer

Nature lovers can tour five of the world’s most incredible National Parks thanks to Google Arts & Culture and the National Park Service. Virtual visitors can have experiences ranging from a descent into an icy crevasse at Kenai Fjords in Alaska to snorkeling the third largest coral reef in the world at the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys.

Google’s Heritage on the Edge is a unique virtual experience that showcases a handful of UNESCO World Heritage sites using 3D maps. This is particularly special because the featured sites are currently threatened by climate change and the goal of this interactive experience is to digitally preserve them. Not only are the sites beautiful to see but the entire experience provides education about the history, heritage, protection, and conservation efforts for these landmarks.

Explore life under the sea thanks to the National Marine Sanctuaries offering virtual dives of the blue depths of the American Samoas, the Florida Keys, Monterey Bay, and more.

For the Animal Lover

Enjoy visiting with adorable animals? Many zoos across the United States are live-streaming their animal areas, allowing viewers to virtually visit their favorites anytime. Some favorites include the San Diego Zoo (710 search increases)and Houston Zoo, each offer multiple animal cameras focused on different habitats.

For an extra dose of adorable, the Atlanta Zoo even features a PandaCam, showcasing the rolly polly adventures of their giant pandas. For a trip under the sea, aquariums like the Georgia Aquarium (100 search increases) and Monterey Aquarium are offering live streams for an array of creatures, from sea otters to jellyfish to beluga whales. The New England Aquarium offers virtual visits for special live presentations and activities to try at home.

For the Thrill-seeker

If a theme park vacation is more your speed, virtual travel experiences are available to thrill and entertain. Tour through the Disney Parks (470 search increase) and Universal Studios, hop on the Mako roller coaster at SeaWorld, or pretend to check into the Legoland Hotel. The number of theme parks offering virtual versions of their in-park experiences continues to grow so riders of all ages (and heights) can enjoy the exciting offerings.

For the Explorer

Virtual tours of popular tourist destinations like the Great Wall of China (470 search increases), the Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Eiffel Tower (310 search increases) let you visit without the concerns of crowds or jetlag.

China, Hebei, Simatai, Thin section of the Great wall near Beijing disappearing into the distant hills. (Photo by: Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images)

For those who want to travel even further from home, consider a trip literally out of this world – to Mars! While actual travel to the red planet may not yet be possible for our travelers, NASA has partnered with Google to offer a tour of a 3D replica of the Martian surface as recorded by the Curiosity rover.

With travel, your possibilities for adventure are endless, and with technology, there truly is no limit to where you can go in your pajamas.

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