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You’re stuck at home, wishing you were on that trip to wherever you had to cancel. Here are ways to tour destinations throughout the world from the safety of your own home. Some of the videos offer 360-degree views, music and narration and all but one are free.
"Rick Steves’ Europe"
The most-watched PBS travel show since 2000 offers every episode for free on RickSteves.com. Steves is an engaging host who discusses history and culture as he takes viewers on insightful tours of destinations as diverse as Spain's Andalucía and the Holy Land.
Visitors to his website can also listen to his radio shows and delve into Steves’ new "Classroom," which includes short videos on serious subjects such as empowering women in poor countries.
“Hunger and Hope,” his newest TV program, follows him through Ethiopia and Guatemala to examine extreme poverty. After spending many months every year on the road, Steves, like us, is now housebound, he said in an email. “My ‘Hunger and Hope’ special focuses on the strides we’ve made in helping the poor around the world to improve their lives,” he said. “You’ll be inspired to see how people can pull together to overcome crisis.”
Google Arts & Culture
Since 2011, Google’s arts and culture platform has been building an impressive collection of interactive photo tours of the world’s greatest museums and monuments. Viewers click around on the screen to get different views, zoom in and out and read descriptions. It’s a good way to take a dive deep into works of art; it’s best accessed on the free Arts & Culture app (available for IOS and Android) while you're wearing headphones.
The Google platform has upped audience appeal with “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks,” its latest offering. Through 360-degree video and interactive photos, visitors explore Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico; Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah; and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. Each program is enlivened with dramatic music to match the scenery and narration by the park’s rangers.
This Russian company films throughout the world, capturing iconic cities, parks and historic monuments in 360-degree photos and 360-degree high-def videos designed for virtual-reality headsets. The AirPano website sells its inventory to download for VR viewing, but visitors are welcome to watch clips of more than 140 videos online for free.
They run as long as seven minutes; most have gorgeous scenery and atmospheric music and some include narration. No surprise that clips of destinations with the most views are bucket list favorites: the Grand Canyon in Arizona; Antarctica; the pyramids in Egypt.
Other popular videos include action adventures such as diving with a great white shark. There also are clips from film shoots in Russia: Frolic with bears in the Kamchatka, celebrate New Year’s Eve in Moscow (it’s a lot tamer than you may think) and fly scarily close to the eruption of the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano. After perusing AirPano’s video clips, you may decide to splurge on a VR headset.
Touropia loves “best of” lists. Watch free videos such as “15 Best Places to Visit in Asia” and “17 Most Beautiful Islands in the World,” then read photo and fact-filled travel articles for more information — and links to hotel reservation sites. This is the website for those who want to travel the entire world while sitting at home.
You may have seen a Geobeats video clip on TripAdvisor.com. This global network of local filmmakers makes short travel films to sell to tour operators, destinations and other travel-related businesses. It’s fun to browse the website’s one- to three-minute video clips. It favors the fun, young and quirky, with lots of GoPro and drone shots.
Check out “The World’s Scariest Hike” or “Here’s What It’s Like to Experience the World’s Highest Cliff Jump.” Brett Olsen is the energetic on-camera host for slightly longer videos such as “Five Ancient Sites People Believe Were Built by Aliens.”
The Great Courses Plus
Great Courses, which offers hundreds of online classes from English literature to statistics, has a travel category that includes Great Tours: England, Scotland, Wales taught by British-born historian Patrick N. Allitt.
The 36 lively and informative 30-minute video lessons focus on subjects such as Britain’s medieval castles, London museums and estates and gardens. If you watch one a day, you’ll be traveling in Britain for more than a month.
Access to all courses costs $19.99 a month for a year. You also can sign up for a $10-a-month plan that includes a 14-day trial and no-fee cancellation at any time.