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hp-reTop 10 Virtual Travel Experiences with the HP Reverb G2 VRverb-g2-travel.jpg

Top 10 Virtual Travel Experiences with the HP Reverb G2 VR

Jolene Dobbin
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As travel restrictions around the world compel many of us to join the ranks of the armchair traveler, virtual travel experiences have become an essential escape – and often a downright captivating alternative.
Read on to learn about the top 10 virtual travel experiences that you can enjoy with a virtual reality (VR) headset, like the HP Reverb G2, without leaving your home.

Introduction

There is no doubt that travel broadens our horizons. As Mark Twain said,

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

When you’re unable to experience the real thing in person, virtual travel is the next best thing. And, often, it can be a perfect complement to that actual travel experience when you’re ready to go. Scoping out a virtual reality place or experience beforehand can let you know how best to prepare.

1. Virtually visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites

mehrangharh-Mehrangharh Fort and Jaswant Thada Mausoleum in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Indiafort-and-jaswant-thada-mausoleum-in-jodhpur,-rajasthan,-india.jpg
The World Heritage Sites have been designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as landmarks with cultural, historical, scientific, or other forms of significance. At last count, there are 1,121 of them worldwide. While even the most intrepid of prolific world travelers would be hard-pressed to see all of them in person, you can easily visit a few dozen virtually. A sampling to see:
  • The remotely located island abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel and one of Normandy, France’s most iconic landmarks.
  • The Pompeii ruins of a city preserved in ash, resulting from the tragic eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 BCE.
  • The site of the first hominid fossil and an important place for understanding human evolution at the Sangiran Early Man Site in Java, Indonesia.
  • Petra, Jordan, the city of stone built more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans.
  • The Slovakia-based Domica Cave, shaped by limestone from the Middle Triassic era and an underground river (actually) named Styx.
  • The limestone statue of the half-lion, half-human mythical creature known as the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt.
  • The Genbaku Dome, otherwise known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the only structure left standing after the August 6, 1945 explosion of the first atomic bomb during WWII -- preserved in the same state as it was immediately following the explosion.

2. Take in online exhibits

the-mThe Metropolitan Museum of Artetropolitan-museum-of-art.jpg
There is nothing like seeing a piece of art up close and personal. But that’s not always possible even when travel restrictions aren’t in place. Luckily there are several museums that have made parts of their exhibits and collections available online. Here are just a few:
  • Peruse rooms and galleries of the rightfully world-famous Louvre in Paris, the world’s largest art museum, and even visit with the Mona Lisa from home in the Louvre’s first virtual reality project applying the latest scientific research on Leonardo da Vinci’s creative processes and painting techniques.
  • Virtually visit the iconic spaces of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art such as the Cloisters, the Temple of Dendur, the gilded sculpture of Diana in the Charles Engelhard Court, and more – all without the pressing crowds.
  • Explore Saint Petersburg, Russia’s State Hermitage Museum – second only to the Louvre in size -- through this truly comprehensive VR experience that includes many of the museum’s renowned works of art from Catherine the Great’s expansive collections as well as special exhibitions.
  • Experience the world’s first entirely virtual art museum (including the building itself), the Virtual Online Museum of Art (VOMA), launched in September 2020, featuring galleries of works by dozens of artists such as Matisse, Manet, Li Wei, Bosch, and many more including newer and lesser-known artists from the around the world.

3. Partake in cross-cultural virtual experiences steeped in literary and art history

festiFestival of San Fermin Pamplonaval-of-san-fermin-pamplona.jpg
Have a favorite author, artist, or historical figure? Literary, art, and history aficionados as well as armchair travelers alike can partake in these virtual experiences.
  • Virtually run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain at the annual Festival of San Fermin and be like Hemingway, who immortalized this event in his acclaimed novel The Sun Also Rises.
  • Take an interactive, virtual tour of the Jane Austen House in Chawton, Hampshire, UK, to explore some of the rooms where she wrote her renowned novels.
  • Immerse yourself in the Immersive van Gogh Experience, which places you inside several of his paintings such as “The Starry Night.”
  • Join in on Dublin-based Bloomsday activities with other super-fans of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which celebrates the central character of Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904, the specific day depicted in the novel.
  • Step into the Anne Frank House and rooms of the secret annex, where the brave 13-year-old diarist, her family, and friends hid for more than two years from the Nazis during WWII.

4. Join in virtual castle tours in the UK

Edinburgh Castle Scotlandurgh-castle-scotland.jpg
Some of the world’s oldest castles can be found in the United Kingdom. A few of them even offer virtual tours for when you can’t get to see the real thing in person.
  • Edinburgh Castle, one of Scotland’s most impressive landmarks built in 1103 on top of 350-million-year-old volcanic rock. It’s an ancient stronghold with a long and rich history as a fortress, prison, and military garrison, as well as the royal residence of several kings and queens.
  • Blair Castle, a 750-plus-year old Scottish castle in Perthshire in the central Scottish Highlands, ancestral home of the Clan Murray and historic seat of the Duke of Atholl.
  • Malahide Castle, one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles dating from 1185, in the picturesque seaside town of Malahide about 20 miles north of Dublin.

5. Take virtual tours of national parks

Yellowstone Park
Our glorious national park system encompasses 423 national park sites, 63 of them designated as national parks in the United States, spanning more than 84 million acres. Now you can see a few of these beauteous treasures virtually.
  • Yellowstone Park, established in 1872 and America’s first national park, spans approximately 3,500 miles of breathtaking views across Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. It has numerous hiking trails, hot springs, and geysers like Old Faithful, which shoots water 100 feet into the air.
  • The Grand Canyon National Park, a true wonder of the world and one of this planet’s geological spectacles, was carved out by the Colorado River. It’s nearly one mile deep, and covers over 1.2 million acres.
  • National Mall and Memorial Parks Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC features almost 3,800 cherry trees, 3,020 of which were gifted by Japan in 1910, and represent 12 different varieties.
  • Redwood National Park is home to the world’s tallest trees, some of which are taller than the Statue of Liberty. With specimens up to 2,000 years old, this spectacular biosphere located in northern California contains almost half of the world’s old-growth redwoods.

6. Visit theme parks

Universal Studios
Visit for the first time or skip the lines at some of your favorite theme parks and entertainment venues by experiencing them virtually. Here are two to check out.
  • Dollywood VR roller coaster rides, some of the best and fastest roller coasters in the world, located in Dolly Parton’s eponymous Dollywood theme park in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
  • Universal Orlando in Florida, walk through and experience some of the rides of this theme park completely on your own in this truly immersive virtual experience, including Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

7. Take a virtual cooking class

For those who haven’t experienced the privilege of cooking in real life (IRL) with an authentic Italian or Italian-American grandma, now is your opportunity to head to Italy. Take a virtual cooking class and learn how to make pasta from scratch with an actual Italian grandma in this fun experience from Airbnb. You’ll learn traditional and authentic pasta techniques while listening to stories along the way.

8. Share in a virtual wine tasting

Participate in virtual wine tasting in Italy, France, the Pacific Northwest, or California from the comfort of your own home with winemakers, celebrity vintners, and other experts who will share their knowledge with you via live streams. Learn about specific wines, vineyards, the winemaking process, tasting notes, pairings, and more.

9. Swim with the sharks on a deep-sea dive

Sharks Underwater in Ocean
Go on a virtual dive with marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey as your guide. You’ll be swimming off the coral reefs of Palau along with manta rays, sea turtles, and sharks while you explore and learn about the magnificent, yet threatened, coral ecosystems.

10. Visit out-of-this-world places with NASA

Explore our solar system and beyond with these virtual tours and experiences from NASA. Take a virtual tour of the Moon, explore Earth-sized exoplanets, view spacecraft, and walk through the laboratories, mission and operations control centers themselves, and more.

Bonus: Experience the travel experience itself

Sometimes the trip itself can be the ultimate travel experience. As the famous philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.”
Virgin Atlantic airlines has created a virtual traveling experience with its Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) video to capture the sights and sounds of air travel. Some of these include the rip of a boarding pass, the click of the seatbelt, the pop of a champagne cork, the in-flight meal experience, and the voice of the pilot.

Experience virtual travel with the HP Reverb G2 VR headset

Now you can enjoy these virtual travel experiences with the HP Reverb G2 VR headset. Developed in collaboration with Valve and Microsoft, this breakthrough headset delivers an immersive experience, realistic visuals, pleasing soundscapes, and superb tracking and performance. It features:
  • Industry-leading, Valve-designed lenses, which can be adjusted for each user’s unique eye distances and face shape
  • Four cameras and internal sensors for detecting position to track more of your arm movement and jump right into VR without additional peripherals
  • Ultra-sharp visuals with 2160 x 2160 LCD panels per eye
  • An ergonomic design with controllers that are comfortable to hold onto

Summary

When the conditions for IRL travel are not ideal, virtual travel is often an appealing alternative in the near term. And, for some, it can actually be a preferred way to travel whatever the restriction circumstances.
No matter your partiality, virtual travel experiences can help travelers expand their figurative world by learning new skills, exploring this planet’s wonders, and discovering other cultures and histories.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.
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