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The Unreliable Guide to…Virtual Travel

By Nat Shepherd on November 2, 2020 in Satire

I miss this place. Photo: Blake Reynolds

The Unreliable Guide loves to travel, so the restrictions caused by the pandemic have been depressing. I know we shouldn’t complain; at the time of writing, poor Melburnians can’t even leave the house, while we are still free to roam the length and breadth of New South Wales, one of the most amazing places on earth. This is a beautiful country, but sometimes we just want to be elsewhere, smelling foreign scents, eating strange foods, hearing exotic languages, experiencing new cultures…
Travel might not be possible for some time, but fear not, The Unreliable Guide has decided that vacations are just a state of mind. Here are some tips and tricks to recreate that feeling of holiday happiness.

Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam describe the platform they’ve co-created as “a way to travel without moving” during isolation. It’s a bold idea and its gone viral. You can enjoy video views, with or without natural background sounds and often fascinatingly framed by the owner’s personal bits and pieces, from windows all over the world. Move from Henrique’s view of rooftops in São Paulo, Brazil, to Isabel’s serene view of green fields in Lütetsberg in Germany, to Twisha’s monsoon soaked garden in Delhi – there are thousands of views to enjoy. Plus, you can share your own view: just upload a 10-minute HD video of your window and frame and join the fun.

Read travel writing
When you can’t travel yourself, armchair travel is the next best thing – maybe even better, as you’re unlikely to get a dose of Bali belly or get robbed. You want to visit India? Check out William Dalrymple’s award winning City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi. Feel like paddling around the Pacific Islands? Hop on board Paul Theroux’s kayak in The Happy Islands of Oceania. Feeling really adventurous and want to know what travel was like before mobile phones and the internet? Try Eight Feet in the Andes by Dervla Murphy – all she had with her was a notebook, her nine-year-old daughter and a grumpy donkey.

Watch a travel show
There are so many travel shows, you won’t have time to watch them all. Try No Reservations, featuring the anarchic and much missed Anthony Bourdain who relished in giving so many places a whole new spin. Prefer a weekender? Watch Travel man: 48 Hours in… and the deadpan Richard Ayoade will take you on whirlwind trips through a variety of cities. For those of you who travel to eat, Street Food on Netflix gives a real flavour of life in cities like Yogyakarta or Buenos Aires. If you just want to mooch about, check out YouTube channels like Prowalk Tours and virtually walk around everywhere from the Colosseum to Cairo.

Revisit your past adventures
If, like The Unreliable Guide, you used to travel a lot, you probably have heaps of photographs and souvenirs. Missing Bali? Put on that sarong you bought on the beach, set up the laptop with a slide show of your old photos, play Balinese music, light incense, cook nasi goreng and drink a Bintang. I guarantee that you’ll get a little bit of that holiday happiness back into your heart.

Remember, this is not forever. We will get back out there again one day and we’ll appreciate the privilege of travel all the more. Bon voyage!