“Travel” Around the Globe Straight From Your Couch

The travel bug is hitting us hard right about now. We’re all trying to remain safe indoors and traveling and changes of scenery are not on the calendar for the foreseeable future. Fret not! There are unique ways you can travel the world and fulfill your wanderlust right from the comfort of your own home. Getting dressed isn’t even required.

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Flavors of the World: 

Traveling Spoon, a travel company dedicated to connecting travelers to local hosts who share a homemade meal in their home, has launched online cooking classes with their hosts all over the world. All of their cooking classes are private and can be scheduled at times convenient to you. For the insanely affordable price of $25, you can learn from an introductory class for up to four guests in your household. It’s a great way to support locals in other countries. Classes range from empanada making in Buenos Aires to cooking Moroccan tajine in Casablanca.

Naya Traveler, a bespoke travel planning service that curates individual itineraries and experiences, has created an immense online recipe book that includes their favorite recipes collected over years of traveling. The easy-to-access book features easy recipes that are full of flavor. From Cambodian Khmer Chicken Mango Salad to Moroccan Mint Tea to Gazpacho Andaluz from Spain, there are plenty of recipes to choose from, no matter what your tastebuds find appealing.

Those craving fresh Italian cuisine can delight in virtual cooking classes from luxury hotel Il Salviatino‘s (located in Firenze, Italy) Executive Chef Silvia Grossi. She’s already led classes helping viewers to make multigrain pici pasta with onion, spices and bergamot, and is hosting twice weekly classes in English on the hotel’s Instagram.

The iconic London lodging Brown’s Hotel, is sharing cocktail tutorials on their Instagram page featuring maestro Salvatore Calabrese. He recently taught viewers how to make his Breakfast Martini — something I think we could all use right about now. Similarly, their Michelin-starred chef director Adam Byatt hosted an IGTV recipe for a scrumptious rack of lamb. Make sure to give them a follow as they dish out more recipes.

Transport yourself straight to Ireland by making one of the country’s most beloved items: bread. It’s tantamount to the culture of the country and now while you’re home, it’s the perfect time to experiment in the kitchen. Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen, located in Strangford Lough, can help you make traditional Irish Soda Bread. Check out this quick video, which gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make the infamous bread in just 12 minutes.

Did someone say happy hour?! The New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA) is hosting virtual happy hours on Facebook Live every night at 6:30pm. Each night features a different brewery and has a different topic to keep things interesting. One evening may feature virtual games while another may talk about favorite beers. You can check out the schedule here.

International Sounds:
Hotels around the world are creating curated playlists to transport people to new destinations. Inspired by unique views, beaches, mountains and more, each playlist is a culmination of the country it represents. Here’s where you can go:
Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico – Caliente Caribe playlist 
Wymara Resort & Villas, Grace Bay Beach, Turks & Caicos – Grace Bay Beach Vibes playlist

Virtual Tours:

In sunny Sonoma, California, animal lovers can tune in to Charlie’s Acres farm animal sanctuary on Facebook and Instagram Live tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-2:30pm. Their mission is to provide lifelong care for rescued farm animals and educate people on the humane treatment of animals. It’s a heartwarming thing to see (especially after Tiger King). Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the farm if you tune in!

The QAGOMA, otherwise known as the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, has partnered up with Google to bring both galleries to your home screens. Thanks to the partnership, you can tour the exhibits virtually and see works of art from artists like Kalam Patua, Sharon Chin, Risham Syed and many more. You can explore the Queensland Art Gallery here and the Gallery of Modern Art here.

Since everyone seems to be drinking a little more than usual during quarantine, it seems fitting to tour a distillery and pretend you’re watching masters craft your favorite beverages. Four Roses Bourbon has created a virtual distillery tour for fans to learn about the beloved craft of whiskey-making without the need to travel to Kentucky. Here, you can learn about the history, the grains, the distilling process and the bottling, preferably with a rocks glass in hand.

Richmond, Virginia is home to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, a stunning nature landscape that is usually open year-round with beautiful blooms and flowing fountains. While you can’t head there now, you can transport yourself right into the garden via a virtual tour, where you can explore the rose garden, cherry blossoms, the conservatory and more peaceful sights. The sounds are almost as appealing as the views.

Croatia is a beautiful country, and one of its most popular coastal cities is now accessible right from your home. Tour Dubrovnik, the beautiful walled city, with 360 degree views. Here you’ll see its tiled orange roofs, boats by the harbor and its archetypal stone walls. If that’s not enough to satisfy your Croatian dreams, head to their capital city’s travel page, where you can find suggestions on how to appease the travel bug from home.

Witches and wizards can unite at the most magical place of all — the Wizarding World of Harry Potter  at Universal Orlando Resort. Here you can experience the park with 360-degree videos and views, peep behind the scenes videos of the rides, and pretend you’re practicing your patronus. If you want, you can even make your way to the other parks and try race car driving at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, ride a roller coaster and more.

Explore the cities of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Israel thanks to Sygic Travel VR, which gives a narrated tour, and allows you to view the cities in 360 degrees. Here you can explore the beaches, local markets, street performers, the Tel Aviv port and more. After watching and learning a bit about the area, you’re going to want to book a trip asap.

If you’ve ever wanted to explore the tombs and catacombs of Egypt, now it’s easier than ever! Explore the magnificent grave of Ramses VI, complete with a tunnel full of hieroglyphics, or the beautiful Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq. These stunning sights have never been more accessible. And there’s no crowds!

Travel to and learn all about Queensland, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough. The virtual journey explores research vessels, the history of the reef, the creatures of the reef, and so much more. Through videos, articles and maps, you can use it as a tool for learning and exploring.

Live Webcams:

It’s something that is likely on everyone’s bucket list — seeing the Northern Lights! Now you can check them out right from your couch thanks to Iceland’s Hotel Rangá, one of the best places in the country to spot them. Located in a secluded area of the countryside, the hotel has ideal conditions for seeing the beautiful aurora borealis; dark skies, minimal lights and an advanced observatory with astronomical telescopes make it popular for tourists. Now, however, you can tune in to their live webcam to see it for yourself.

No matter the time of day, you can tune into a number of Lone Pine Sanctuary‘s web cams, which live stream koalas, dingos, reptiles and platypus. Located in Brisbane, Australia, this animal sanctuary began as a safe haven for injured, sick and abandoned koalas back in the 1920s. Now you can witness the thriving animals it continues to serve as they eat and play.

If you’ve got a hankering to watch more big cats (and kittens), luckily for you, both Explore.org and Africam are providing live webcam streams of wildlife hotspots in South Africa. Game reserves such as Sabi Sands, Balule Nature Reserve and Kruger National Park all live stream an array of animals, including hippos, elephants, lions and more, around the savannah.  Additionally, WildEarth TV is hosting live-streamed safaris at sunrise and sunset every day. 

Witness Wonder:
Las Vegas, Nevada is known for its over-the-top theatrics, non-stop party atmosphere and travel-worthy performances. While you might not be able to head there currently to lose all your money at blackjack, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Cirque du Soleil is showcasing 60-minute specials online, as well as virtual reality experiences, tutorials from Cirque performers, music, workouts and much more.
Mark your calendars for April 22nd at 5pm (EDT) for a interactive livestream by CultureNet. The free livestream, BELLA GAIA, will debut on Facebook Live, and combines immersive dance, musical performances and NASA-powered technology and satellite imagery to create a one-of-a-kind view of the world. Part entertainment, part educational, it will also feature a Q+A with founder Kenji Williams and astronaut Ron Garan.
Zen Out:
North Carolina’s Art of Living Retreat Center is bringing their classic Happiness Retreat online through the month of April. The retreat, which is typically designed to help people with mental health and wellbeing, couldn’t be more needed during times like these. The two-night experience is now tailored to occur in your home, and will help you learn how to reduce stress and anxiety and experience more happiness and enthusiasm. Details can be found here.
Six Senses Hotels & Resorts, which have locations through Asia, Europe and the Middle East, have adapted their wellness experiences to things you can do right at home. Choose from a plethora of videos, articles and tutorials from their experts and learn how to grow your own food, create your own beauty products, get a free consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor, sleep more peacefully and so much more.
And Then Some:
Many places are running the gamut with ways to travel virtually. Santa Barbara, California’s Belmond El Encanto is one of those places. Their new “Belmond Invites” series on their IGTV takes place every Monday afternoon (PST) and differs from week to week. Spa specialist Danielle McCombs teaches viewers how to make the hotel’s signature body scrubs, fitness instructor Ray Camacho will lead you through a relaxing morning yoga flow, and executive chef Johan Denizot instructs viewers who to make delicious ricotta ravioli.
Situated conveniently in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, El Dorado Spa Resorts is shifting gears to provide wanderlusters ways to experience their award-winning service straight from home. Thanks to their #ExperienceElDoradoAtHome campaign, you can amp up your skincare routine with spa manager Xóchitl Ramírez, sweat your way through a dance fitness class, whip up cocktails with some Mexican flavors, and zen out listening to the crashing waves and wind from the beach.

“Escape to Jamaica” is a new Instagram Live series that is regularly bringing followers inspiration from the island. Weekly series feature live cooking demonstrations, wellness sessions, DJ dance parties, and more. Past recipes have included Pepper Shrimp Pasta and Jamaican Mule cocktails. Head to their Instagram to see what they have coming up!

Massanutten Resort, located in Shenandoah Valley, Virgina, has created virtual experiences, or “Massanutten Moments” to bring the resort to you. 15-2o minute videos guide you through an array of experiences, from crafts and cooking to yoga and cardio. All of the videos can be viewed here.

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