No need to shell out for flight tickets, hotels or travel insurance as you traverse these beloved lands (and space) via a 14-inch screen—or VR goggles if you’re feeling fancy.
Even though Circuit Breaker is breaking and restrictions are being lifted in phases, travelling for leisure is nowhere near becoming a reality in the foreseeable future.
Sure, there are still some flights happening and airline companies offering travel credit. You might believe that it is safe to make year-end travel plans, but with 14-day quarantine measures in place for almost all destinations on the planet, vacationing responsibly is just not a viable option for now.
So the wanderlusters among us will just have to make do with virtual destinations to assuage the hunger for globe-trotting. Luckily, there has been no lack of high-quality resources for virtual tours and travel experiences available.
Check out the top picks below.
#1: Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagasaki, Japan
Like many fellow Singaporeans, we definitely have an on-again, off-again love affair with Japan. Sure, we might stray over to Korea and Taiwan every once in a while, but nothing beats the Japanese aesthetic, culture and food that captures our imagination.
While the bright lights of Tokyo’s Shibuya will always be a go-to hotspot in your mind, use your quarantine time wisely to also check out exotic spaces like the sultry vermillion gates of Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine, or marvel at the traditional architecture of Nagasaki’s port city in Kyushu.
And if you’ve always wanted to see cherry blossoms in Japan but never timed it right, now’s your chance to witness them all in 360-degree splendour, from the comfort of your home.
When you do visit Japan for real:
If you’ve chanced upon that rumour that Japan will pay for half of your holiday, we’re sorry to be the bearer of some not-so-happy news: turns out it’s only true for their domestic holiday-makers.
The rest of us will have to make do with a well-planned itinerary that takes into consideration health safety and also travel protection against sudden closures – which may happen if you book Airbnbs in Japan – a common choice of accommodation for travellers there.
#2: Paris, the City of Love (and museums)
It might sound like a cliché, but Paris is a storybook destination that many are choosing to visit from their living rooms during these COVID-19 times. And why not? What better way to escape one’s humdrum existence than by imagining yourself at the top of the Eiffel Tower, cruising the corridors of the famous Louvre museum to view the Mona Lisa without fighting with crowds.
Or how about the Musée d’Orsay for distinguished works by the likes of Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin, without surviving an hour-long queue to enter? And while you’re ‘there’, why not take a trip out of town to the Palace of Versailles to virtually stroll the gorgeous gardens and witness the fabled Hall of Mirrors?
When you do visit Paris for real:
There’s no doubt that when border closures lift for real, many travellers would be making a beeline for European destinations, not just for leisure travel but for business reasons as well.
Paris, being so accessible to/from London, is an easy target for holiday-makers. While urban cities have many conveniences for health and safety, France is well known for railroad strikes, the most recent of which occurred just before COVID-19 and lasted for almost a full month, making it the country’s longest strike in decades.
For those touring neighbouring cities in Central Europe, theft and pickpocketing are scarily common occurrences. Singaporean travellers should ensure that they have a good general travel insurance plan that allows claims for such events.
#3: Machu Picchu, Cuzco
Every Singaporean traveller worth their frequent flyer miles reserves has a not-so-secret bucket list, as well as Gram-worthy destinations to conquer.
Some are easy to fulfill, others not so much; among the latter is the legendary Machu Picchu site in Cuzco, Peru. It takes a full 24 hours of air travel from Singapore to even get to the capital city of Lima, and then you’d have to make your way to Cusco and spend some time acclimating to the altitude.
Next, you’d hop on the train to the closet town of Aguas Calientes. Luckily, the virtual journey is much easier, with arguably better views in HD.
When you do visit Machu Picchu for real:
Any kind of far-flung destination such as this requires Mach-u planning. In addition to your general travel insurance which covers flight cancellations, consider also taking up any kind of insurance offered on tickets, especially on domestic transfers which might be cancelled due to strikes or inclement weather.
Also look into the specific travel activity you might be engaged in. So if you are trekking in Machu Picchu, a specific trekking coverage might be wise.
#4: Amusement Parks galore: Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios
Show us a Singaporean traveller who doesn’t enjoy amusement parks and we’ll show you a vaccine for COVID-19! Amusement parks are to holidays what comfort food are to tummies. You’d be a mighty miserable person not to break out a smile in Disney World, which is showcasing their all their rides and park sites in panoramic glory for deprived Disney fans on lockdown.
If Disney is not quite your cup of tea, there’s also Orlando’s Sea World (check out the Mako roller coaster!) and Universal Studios Hollywood and its Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
When you do go on a trip with an amusement park focus for real:
It’s not uncommon for travellers to build a trip around their amusement park of choice and then pivot to other activities. If your amusement park is the main reason for your trip, make sure your entrance tickets and any other VIP passes and experiences you’ve paid are fully covered by your insurance plan, if your visit is compromised for some reason.
Look out for plans that include pre-booked activities and excursions under their list of items covered.
#5: Out of this world - Mars
This one is perhaps a destination that’s closer to wishful thinking than an actual holiday. But being on lockdown is the perfect time to take yourself far, far away – even if it’s only by virtual means.
When you do go on a trip in outer space for real:
2020 is a crazy year. Who knows if space tourism might actually become reality by the time our lockdown is finally lifted? Maybe the ‘new normal’ includes travel to other planets now that every inch of our own is virus-ridden.
But seriously, space tourism is nothing new, and has been in the works since 18 years ago. These days, Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures tout their special space experiences; one thing that is new and undiscovered, however, are travel protection coverages for space-bound odysseys.
If you’re a Crazy Rich Asian and the sky is (literally) the limit for you, your Universal Life plan could possibly take care of things during your ultimate post-pandemic trip.
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