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Santarem in Brazil was one of the first places I traveled internationally using 'Virtual Travel'.

Travel the world--virtually--for free

 Living on a tight budget? Have health problems?  Or concerns about health risks or other dangers around the planet?  Now none of these stand in the way of a worldwide travel adventure for you.

This new way of visiting popular destinations as well as exotic locales is called Virtual Travel.  Virtual travel is done from the ease of your own home. Just turn on your computer and go! Better yet, you can start and stop you trip at any time and pick up where you left off later.  It is a digital version of armchair traveling--but instead of reading a book about some place, you take a trip and see the sights using your computer. (And since you are reading this, I know you have one of those!)

Three  types of Virtual Travel:

1) To visit popular destinations, like London or Paris or China, you can start by taking video trips.  The ones sponsored by travel agents are very professional. (And you don't have to book a trip with them to see the videos!)

2) To discover exotic towns and cities off the tourist track use Google Maps and their street view feature to 'drive' through the streets and town, stopping to look whenever you want. (My favorite way!)

3) Drone videos are a brand new way to travel and some are amazing.

Use online video tours for the most popular destinations.

For many people destination videos with 360° views of a famed location is what they want from a virtual travel experience.  You can find some great destination videos at this site. It is a travel agency site, but you can take their virtual tours for free.

YouTube also has tons of travel videos, many done by amateurs and, unfortunately, they are often hit-and-miss. Because they have quality standards, Vimeo has outstanding videos.  Here is one example of a time-lapse Virtual Tour of London.

Travel with Google's Street View

I had traveled a lot earlier in my life so for me virtual travel began with Google's street view. I'd plug in an address on Google Maps to see a friend's home or a restaurant I was going to and get directions on how to go there. No doubt you have done the same thing. 

Then I read 'Visit Sunny Chernobyl', a book about the seven most polluted places on the planet. In a chapter entitled 'Soymageddon' I read of a city named Santarem in Brazil.  I'd never heard of it so I checked it out on Google maps. What a surprise! I discovered that I could actually 'tour' the streets of Santarem as well as see dozens of photos of the city from all sorts of angles. The photos include not only attractive locales, but streets off the beaten track, places where everyday people in Santarem live and shop. You can jump around this city--and every other locale on Google Maps--going from slum street to riverfronts to main plazas by clicking on the little map in the lower left corner of the image.

Google's street view has gone much further than I realized!  (More about travel via Google here, including trips to the World Seed [more...]

NOTE:  All names on this site have been changed to protect individual privacy.  
The stories are real, the names are not. 

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