A Complete Guide to Virtual Travel with Kids to Help you Travel the World from Home
With the wonders of modern technology, there are so many resources out there that allow you to experience virtual travel with kids. We’ve been overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of these virtual-travel resources that allow us to visit the world (and beyond) from our armchair.
We have been using these online resources along with some more traditional homeschooling methods such as exploring maps, learning basic greetings in different languages and making different food from various countries. We’ll also be re-visiting some of the countries we’ve travelled to with an A-Z challenge on our FlashpackingFamily Instagram account. We’ve travelled to over 90 countries between us but while writing this, I don’t even know if we’ll manage the challenge!
These great resources will enable you to enjoy virtual reality travel in a really fun and, in some cases, interactive way too. We decided to pull together a selection of the best websites in one easy list that you can refer back to whenever you want to travel virtually. Expect to take virtual field trips to museums, national parks and even outer space – all without leaving the comfort of your home.
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Virtual Museum Tours
There are a number of world-class museums to visit virtually through a combination of Livestream videos and 360-degree virtual tours.
British Museum in London
Natural History Museum in London
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
Guggenheim Museum in New York
Musée d’Orsay in Paris
Louvre Museum in Paris
Roman Baths in Bath
Virtual Zoo Tours
Keep up to date with animal antics from London Zoo with webcams and live streams.
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo has a great kids section on their site with live footage of their animals and some lovely animal themed educational resources and activities.
Some more live streaming of animals from Melbourne Zoo and if you miss them, you can catch up on their YouTube channel.
National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth
Watch live feeding sessions from the National Marine Aquarium via their Facebook page. These 30-minute sessions are aimed at kids and during the session the marine expert gives a really informative talk about the animals. As it is a live session, you can ask and answer questions. Our kids love this and it really helps them retain the information.
Virtual Wildlife Tours
Watching animals in zoos not your thing? We get that. We much prefer to see animals in their natural habitat, especially on a family-friendly safari in Africa, but, of course, that is not possible right now. Here are the next best ways to see animals in their natural environment from the comfort of your armchair.
AndBeyond have some incredible safari lodges throughout Africa and they regularly host live sessions on their andbeyondtravel social media channels. You can also check out Explore for more live footage of African animals.
Fancy something a little closer to home? You can check out the Longleat virtual safari.
Explore, a philanthropic live nature cam website, also has live webcam footage for a whole range of other animals across the world, although mostly US-based, including manatees in Florida, Osprey in Maine and Polar Bears in Manitoba. They have an enormous selection of webcams around the world and we also love their short global documentary films which give fantastic insights into life around the world, including stories from Tibetan nuns or footage of the Navajo Fire Dance.
While not virtual, we’ve also been enjoying the fantastic Seven Worlds, One Planet on bbc iPlayer.
Virtual Travel in the Great Outdoors
US National Parks
Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with five US National Parks to provide amazing footage of the breathtaking scenery in these parks. With all National Parks in the US and UK currently closed, you can immerse yourself in these extraordinary videos and really feel like you’re out in the great outdoors. The kids had a fantastic experience in Banff National Park in Canada and are now keen to visit some US ones.
Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii
Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida
You can also check the National Park Service website for a seemingly unending list of webcam shots from the US National Parks.
Watch footage of the Northern lights streamed from Churchill, Manitoba in Canada. We were so lucky to see the Northern Lights in Iceland and the kids were fascinated with this natural light display. Even if you travel to a specific destination to see the Northern Lights, a sighting cannot be guaranteed so this virtual livestream is a brilliant idea, especially if you have already tried to see the Northern Lights in person and not been able to.
NatGeo also has some wonderful educational 360 footage of natural wonders around the world on their YouTube channel. Some of our favourites are:
- Victoria Falls
- Glow Worm Caves of New Zealand
- Deep Sea Exploration
- Kamchatka Volcano Eruption
Stay Tuned Earth
Stay Tuned Earth is a great resource because it gathers together a lot of virtual videos and you can search using their interactive map. We were meant to be visiting Cappadocia in Turkey this summer so we’ll enjoy sharing this virtual tour with the kids.
Keukenhof Gardens in The Netherlands
OK, not the great outdoors but Keukenhof is famous for its absolutely stunning tulip fields. They have a virtual tour of their tulip fields which are in bloom right now after planting 7 million bulbs. We’ve included this because we thought everyone can do with a bit of colour right now!
David Attenborough will be giving Geography lessons on BBC Bitesize from 20th April for 14 weeks. His lessons will take us around the world. This is bound to be informative and entertaining. I would have loved to have had David Attenborough teaching me geography when I was a kid!
Pyramids of Egypt
How about visiting Discovering Egypt first to read up on the Egyptians before heading off to take a virtual tour of the 5000-year-old tomb of Queen Meresankh III. You take an incredibly realistic walking tour of the tomb, to the point that you might actually feel a little claustrophobic as you descend into the depths! Move on to a virtual tour of the ancient monuments of Egypt or the Pyramids with Google Streetview.
New Seven Wonders of the World
Explore the New Seven Wonders of the World courtesy of 360-degree tours pulled together by the New York Times. Some also have their own separate virtual tours.
- Great Wall of China
- Take a virtual trek through Petra in Jordan with Google Streetview. Here’s some further reading on visiting Petra with Kids.
- Enjoy a bucket list travel moment by exploring Machu Picchu virtually with Youvisit or with Google Streetview.
- Take a 360-degree virtual tour of Chichen Itza with Google Earth.
- Visit Christ the Redeemer with Google Streetview
- The Colosseum
- Visit The Taj Mahal with Google Streetview
Explore the official London residence of the Queen virtually with a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace. There are 775 rooms in the palace but you’ll only be able to explore 3 of them virtually, the Throne Room, the Grand Staircase and the White Drawing Room.
There are 7 virtual tours through the Vatican city, including the spectacular Sistine Chapel.
Palace of Versailles
Take a virtual tour of Versailles with Google Streetview
Learn more about the mysterious Stonehenge in Salisbury, UK with a 360-degree virtual tour and accompanying educational resources.
Virtual City Tours
Live cam footage of major cities is incredible to see at the moment as the streets are all but deserted. It’s a phenomenon that we may (and hope not to) see again. Check out the famously busy Tokyo Shibuya Crossing. It’s also interesting to see usually busy holiday destinations with no crowds such as Copacabana Beach in Brazil, the Trevi Fountain in Rome or the waterways of Venice.
You can also take virtual tours of major cities.
- New York (including tours of Central Park and the Statue of Liberty)
- Paris (make sure to wait for dark and watch the Eiffel Tower shimmer and sparkle in this live cam view)
Virtual Tour of Space
It’s not just every corner of the earth that is covered by Webcams though. We can also explore space virtually thanks to footage from space stations and other space exploration tools.
Explore the real surface of Mars with images from NASA’s Curiosity Rover.
Tha main NASA website is incredibly informative if you have a space enthusiast in the family.
Want to see what the Hubble Space Telescope saw on your birthday? Check out the Nasa website and enter your date of birth. You can also watch Nasa astronauts take spacewalks on YouTube or watch live streams of the Earth from space. Check here for interactive Q&A sessions with astronauts from space and other educational resources.
You can also have a virtual tour of the International Space Station Columbus to see how the astronauts live for many months at a time. They live the ultimate stay at home life!
Virtual Amusement Parks
Nobody does amusement parks like Disney so how about checking out all the Virtual Disney World rides on their YouTube channel. If you can put them on a widescreen TV, you can get a very realistic experience! Here are a couple of their most popular rides and you can find more than 20 virtual Disney rides here.
Frozen Ever After at Epcot
Ride Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
Rise of the Resistance
We’re pulling together a post on the best travel movies for kids but some of our favourites are:
- The Lion King (Africa)
- Madagascar (Africa)
- The Sound of Music (Austria)
- Paddington (London)
- Brave (Scotland)
- National Lampoon’s European Vacation (Europe)
- Johnny English (London)
- Mulan (China)
- Kung Fu Panda (China)
- The Jungle Book (India)
- Anne of Green Gables (Canada)
- Coco (Mexico)
- Rio (Brazil)
- Moana (South Pacific)
- Up (South America)
- Happy Feet (Antarctica)
- Finding Nemo (Round the World)
- A Turtle’s Tale (Round the World)
When the kids are in bed, why not have a little well-deserved downtime and catch up on some of the best travel movies for adults.
Traditional Home Learning
If you want to move away from technology, here are a few things we like to do with the kids at home to help:
- Use a children’s Atlas for reference
- Draw the flag of the country you are learning about
- Learn a few simple words about the country you are learning about (Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, Yes and No)
- Try out recipes from the country you’re learning about like pizza and pasta from Italy, curry from India, noodle dishes from China, burgers from the US and fajitas from Mexico. All very child-friendly!
Until it is safe to travel again, we hope this has given you some great resources to help fuel wanderlust in your kids. If you have any ideas you think we should add, please leave us a comment. Happy ‘virtual’ travels!
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