The world is a big place with lots to see, learn and discover. For most people, it is understandable that they may not get many chances to visit faraway lands or discover and explore exotic or historic places. However, there are more ways than ever to bring those places closer than you might think. Couch traveling offers a very relaxing trip without leaving home. I love to do it in my spare time. One of the greatest gifts, that we as humans have, is imagination, dreams and visions. Most of us are able to close our eyes and see ourselves in that special place. There are lots of very interesting websites, magazines and tools that can really help you get a feel for that dream destination!
Wikipedia and WikiTravel are two incredible sites to search out information about a specific country; you will find everything from the name of the Capital city, population, GDP, climate, electricity type, etc. Some of this may sound useless, but when you start globe-trotting these types of things are extremely useful to know and really determine what goes into your luggage. Also on Wiki, you will find the key attractions, things that are a must do, as well as what to buy!
Another great site is TripAdvisor. Whether you are on your couch or on a trip, to see pictures of some famous sites can help give some guidance and a general over-view of what to expect. TripAdvisor is my absolute favorite. You can find out reviews of specific attractions, hotels, restaurants, as well as information on tour-guides, etc. There is so much to explore on this website. The best thing about it is reading the feedback reviews compiled by real travelers! Often times, you will find that if you give a review of a hotel or resort that shines negatively on their operations or maybe even to compliment them on their quality of service, their management may respond to you and try to rectify a perspective problem or just thank you for the positive feedback! Last but not least, you can always check out LonelyPlanet & Frommers. Your local library may also have Travel Guides to access and read.
Bar none, the absolute best way to get familiar with a country or city is to read their local newspaper. The website PressDisplay.com and their companion app, allow you to access full replica newspapers from around the world. Their collection consists of more than 2000 Newspapers from 95 countries in more than 50 languages. Some of the newspapers also allow you to translate (ie. Italian newspaper translated into English), and can be shared by email or social networking.
There is also an incredible magazine available that offers culture and the inside scoop on international relevant matters called Monocle. The review is a “briefing on global affairs, business, culture & design”. Monocle is more than a captivating magazine with interesting reporting; it literally draws you in. A little expensive at the cost of $10 but well worth the knowledge gained. It can be purchased locally in Regina at The Book End, Chapters and Coles Northgate. Annual subscriptions are 90GBP ($140); you can do so on their website (Monocle.com).
At the end of the day, if you can’t travel for whatever reason, travel on your couch as much as you can. Read, read and read some more… Learning about the world may unfold new opportunities and possibly challenge you!
Oh, the places you’ll go!