During this ongoing pandemic, many virtual travel experiences popped up to tide people over and provide socially distant travel alternatives. I myself tried out 3 virtual options – visiting the MET, touring a national park, and cooking with a French chef. Being 100% honest, virtual travel was not for me and it fell painfully flat in comparison to real travel. That said, of the options I tried, virtual travel cooking was the best and I would recommend other people give it a try.
1) Virtual Museum Visits
Earlier this year I recommended visiting museums as part of any travel experience. Now that (some) museums are closed, I gave virtual museum tours a try. I specifically went with the MET because it’s one of my favorite museums. The first issue I came across was virtual visits have fewer exhibitions available online. My second issue, there’s no sense of scale and texture online. What does 17 1/2 x 15 3/4 in. (44.5 x 39.8 cm) mean? I personally can’t visualize the size of an object or painting. I need to see it. Additionally, the photographs of the material don’t capture all the brush strokes or the cravings in the frames or many of the other finer points of detail. That said, I do think you can use these online resources to help plan your in-person visits when/as these spaces reopen.
2) Virtual Tours of U.S. National Parks
As was the case with the museums, the virtual tours of places like Yosemite park don’t do the actual parks justice. From the photos, you can clearly tell these national parks are stunning. But the depth of that beauty is something you just have see in person. In the meantime, these virtual tour photos would be great for vision boards. You could make vision boards for a pandemic roundtrip, post-COVID travel, or travel bucket lists. For more on how to make your own vision board, or general inspiration, check out this post.
3) Virtual Cooking Classes
This was by far my favorite virtual activity. Both because it had a real world component and a rewarding result. Back in April I attended a virtual cooking class with a French chef and made pear almond tarts. The recipe was provided via email beforehand. I purchased the ingredients myself from my local grocery store and though I struggled to keep up during the class, ultimately I made a delicious tart. What I didn’t like about the virtual cooking class was the fact that I had to get the ingredients myself. In an actual in-person cooking session, like the one I did in Antigua, all the ingredients and tools were provided. Now at home, I did have to buy a few things that I had never seen or used before. (And may never use again.) Like pie weights. (Usually I get store bought pie crusts instead of making them from scratch.) Recently, I have seen a few other virtual cooking classes that offer the option of picking up boxes of prepackaged ingredients and if I could find one of those in my neighborhood I would give them a try. Or, I would try a virtual cooking class that doesn’t require buying a lot of things I may not use again. Overall I think virtual cooking is worth trying, with a little caution.
As my prospects for safe travel remain limited, I will continue exploring safer alternatives until further notice. Stay tuned for whatever that it.