How to Tour the Hidden Treasures of the World… Right Now

Culture

September 10, 2020

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i'm cassandra marcella


In this day and age of the COVID-19 pandemic, mandated physical distancing has precluded most of us from traveling to different places, whether it be another U.S. state or another continent―and rightfully so.

But just because we can’t travel now does not mean you should put your travel planning process on hold! There are many smart reasons why you should start planning for 2021 now.

In the meantime, while you are safely tucked away in your home’s comforts, I offer you these different websites that you can explore.

Acknowledge your wanderlust, satiate your thirst for cultural knowledge, and vicariously travel online:

1 | Context Travel

Based on the idea that travel is the ultimate form of education, Context Travel’s mission is to invite people “off the tourist track” and into the whole life of a location’s people, history, and culture. They host various Conversations (seminars and classes) that pertain to specific genres and regions, like history in Africa or gastronomy in Latin America. A network filled with scholars and specialists across the world are responsible for creating the content, so you can be confident that what you’ll discover is reliable and accurate.

This is the tour guide company that Premier Wellness Travel engages for clients abroad because their guides are not only uber-knowledgeable, they’re all also great storytellers.

Examples of unique seminars include ::

You can explore more seminars and courses at the Context Travel website.

Full disclosure :: if you purchase one of these unique seminars, I get some wine money (not enough for a pony). Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you a thing. You’ll also be supporting the most scholarly, smartest, best storytelling tour guides that I use to spice up adventures abroad for my clients. Thanks so much!

2 | The Great Tours

The Great Courses is a global media brand that offers on-demand streaming for lessons on a plethora of topics, one of which is The Great Tours series on travel. The Great Courses divide their lectures into roughly a half-hour each, each focusing on a specific aspect of that subject. Furthermore, PhD-certified professors teach the majority of these classes, so you can expect high-caliber lessons to stimulate your brain.

Editor’s Note :: Cassandra’s been a huge fan of this company since they offered their courses on cassette tape! That would be 1992. She owns, ahem, over 80 of their courses.

Intriguing courses offered include ::

You can access the offered courses à la carte or as part of a membership-based subscription at The Great Courses Plus website.

3 | &Beyond

&Beyond is one of our favorite tour operators. They offer fantastic, truly astonishing, experiences, and now they’ve brought their innovative spirit to offer rich game drives to you at home live from Africa. They’ve teamed up with WildEarth to bring “the wilderness to you,” with twice-daily long game drives from &BEYOND Ngala Private Game Reserve, &BEYOND Phinda Private Game ReserveDjuma Private Game ReserveTswalu and Pridelands Conservancy.

Anybody can join the streaming at these times::

  • 06:30am – 10:30am Central Africa Time (sunrise dependent) That’s 12:30 am – 4:30 am ET.

  • 15:00pm – 18:00pm Central Africa Time (sunset dependent) That’s 9 am – 12 noon ET.

Guests can ask questions via the chat function, but they can not guarantee answers due to the volume. For a fee, you can also set up a WILDwatch and speak with a ranger to learn everything you can think to ask about. Or you can book a WILDchild session which offers young ones (ages 6 to 10), and the young at heart, the opportunity to learn some of the important skills their rangers use every day in the field along with a Q&A session and “to-do at home” mission challenges.

See the WILDwatch Live stream here. Or book some one on one time with an expert &Beyond guide who will take you on a 1hr 30min virtual safari drive, in the privacy of your own home. Learn more here.

4 | National Geographic

All of us have watched an episode of, or at least heard of, National Geographic. This American television channel has aired numerous series and documentaries about our world through nature, history, and culture.

So, if you’re looking for something with a little less long-term commitment, National Geographic’s Travel site is for you! They provide really rich free content, including but not limited to quick-read articles, slideshows of beautiful destinations, and enticing videos of obscure cultural topics. 

Out-of-the-ordinary content includes ::

You can read more articles and view more galleries on National Geographic’s travel website. And why not satisfy your wanderlust and subscribe or gift a subscription? It’s only 12$ a year.

5 | Atlas Obscura

An online travel magazine and tour operator, Atlas Obscura, as suggested by its name, catalogs and provides tours on obscure and unusual travel destinations via user-generated content. With a database full of rich content in the form of articles and videos, all of the fascinating material is a community-based effort, with participants submitting content from across the globe.

If you want a more interactive and live experience, you can register for one of their Zoom experiences, during which a travel host streams the tour directly from their device. These online tours are in addition to in-person experiences and tours that will resume once travel restrictions alleviate.

(Editor’s Note :: Cassandra has enjoyed several Atlas Obscura tours in the DC area; Atlas Obscure also is a tour operator offering really neat and unique experiences!)

Some of their obscure travel experiences include ::

You can explore more of our world’s obscure and unusual places at Atlas Obscura’s website.

6 | Smithsonian Associates Program

Smithsonian Associates is the most extensive museum-based education program in the world and produces educational and cultural programs rooted in the Smithsonian’s vast network of knowledge. Members of the Associates Program can attend various events and courses, ranging from studio art workshops hosted by professional artists to virtual tours of new exhibits at their museums. Currently, the Associates host all of their programmings via their streaming program, a free, online initiative to promote historical and cultural exploration from the safety of your own home.

Examples of their online programming events include ::

You can stream upcoming online workshops at the Smithsonian Associates Program’s website.

7 | PBS

An addition from Cassandra

PBS was the original producer of educational, cultural and historical content. Primarily broadcast on television free over the air, many of their offerings are now also available online. With a membership to support your local public television station, called PBS Passport, you can access a wealth of top-notch program. I worked there for over four years after law school and loved everything about it (especially borrowing screening tapes on the weekends!)

Here are just a very few of my favorites ::

Explore PBS Passport here. And PBS free offerings here.


Our world is so vast and broad that it is virtually impossible to travel everywhere in a single person’s lifetime physically.

That is why these websites are so valuable: you can go anywhere and everywhere online, and at a more efficient pace.

Then, perhaps, one of these destinations will spark enough interest that you are inspired to go in person when the right time comes.

And if that destination sparks an interest in you, then Premier Wellness Travel is here to manifest your travel dreams, and we are always happy to chat.

Enjoy these unique learning experiences in the meantime! Which are you going to check out first?

Additional Resources

Celebrate What’s Right with the World – a Ted Talk by Dewitt Jones, a National Geographic photographer, on perspective.

Unique Trips for Every Interest – from Atlas Obscura. Premier Wellness Travel can get you special opportunities and in for rare experiences. Explore the line up for 2021.

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