As summer approaches and we brace ourselves for the prospect of perhaps not going on the holiday we originally planned, you’d be forgiven for feeling a pang of FOMO when you think about the big, wide world, and having one less chance to see somewhere new.

Travel, as we mentioned before, is important for wellbeing. Being somewhere else is a true pick-me-up, away from the stresses of daily life.

So if you can’t go there in reality, why not be there virtually?

VR headsets are simpler to use and cheaper than ever – if you can use a smartphone, you can use an Oculus Quest. You don’t need a VR headset to be immersed in your digital adventures, but it is a revolutionary experience: as close to being there as you can get without being there. Oh – and “there” doesn’t necessarily mean a place – it could be a time too…

 

Travel like a superhero or try a new life on for size

Something as deceptively functional as Google Earth grants the user superhero-like powers when you use it in VR. In one sense, it’s simply cool and fun: with the headset on, a slowly rotating globe hovers before you, and you can choose where you want to go. (Tip: zooming in from space to Easter Island is a particularly spooky experience

But the real joy is swooping over highly-detailed cities like New York, and as you spin and reposition in mid-air like Spider-man while exploring from above, you’ll realise that you’re not just taking a geographic vacation, but a vacation from normal life itself.

All that swooping around can feel a bit frenetic – aren’t vacations also about relaxing though? Why not take a VR-vacation to a new life on a remote farm in central Montana.

Experience the gentle joys of a day of corn-cropping: a tractor motor refusing to start, the thresher slowly crunching its way through endless golden fields, standing by the farmer as he connects large oily pieces of machinery: it’s all rather calming in its slow, enjoyable uneventfulness – the complete opposite of the frantic world most of us live in.

 

Travel across Earth and through space


Of course, the beauty of VR is that the concept of “travel” is stretched dramatically. You can visit places you probably will never go to, like scaling the world’s tallest mountain in Everest VR (where you can enjoy the thrills of a tricky ascent, or just throw food at seagulls in the basecamp) or travel in ways that are impossible, like dashing around the solar system and gawping at the beauty of Saturn’s rings in the staggeringly detailed Titans Of Space.

 

Travelling through… time

After travelling across Earth, and then through space, why not take a leap through the fourth dimension and take a trip back in time for a vacation that puts our world into historical context? VR apps like Lithodmos let you skip back to see Stonehenge when the stones were polished and newly-standing, or to Ancient Jerusalem during the early spread of civilization.

Not all historical experiences need to be in the distant past: Grover’s home city of Berlin is soaked in recent history, and we worked with some pioneers in VR-time-travel in the past who are recreating key moments of during the Berlin wall era in VR. 

 

Travelling… into art

Finally: if you are still not convinced by VR, here’s one way to travel somewhere hitherto impossible – deep into one of the world’s most famous paintings. Amsterdam’s  Rijksmuseum has removed Rembrandt van Rijn’s masterpiece The Night Watch from display to restore it. But before they did, the museum took hundreds of photographs and created a huge 44.8 gigapixel image. Even if it was hanging (which it isn’t), and even if you could travel to the Netherlands (which you probably can’t), and even if you could push your way to the front of the crowds (you need sharp elbows) – you still couldn’t luxuriate in the beauty of each brushstroke as remarkably as this. 

Take some time to travel around a masterpiece, millimetre by millimetre – and if you’re still in need of artistic escape, a few of the world’s most beautiful art galleries are like the Vatican Museum, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and The Museu de Arte de São Paulo.