I just discovered a wonderful new way to experience a faraway destination while not actually traveling there. Discover Live is an “Un-Travel” service that offers exclusive live tours with live guides to take you around a city using Zoom-based technology. It is not pre-recorded; it is a live, virtual tour. One gets to see what the guide sees and to be in direct conversation as they guide you through the sights and secret places of your destination. It is the closest thing I have ever experienced to actually being on location.
Re-Discovering Paris With a Virtual Tour
The Discover Live experience I chose was Paris, a place I lived many years ago. Joining me on my trip was my good friend Jacqueline who had visited there just a year ago. I connected from Los Angeles, while she joined from Houston. We were both expecting something similar to a YouTube travel video, but what we experienced was something much more impactful.
“I have memories from the experience as if I had actually been there”
“I was so surprised,” says Jacqueline. “It was not at all what I was expecting. I have memories from the experience as if I had actually been there. We have all watched travel on TV or YouTube, but this is completely different. Those are passive experiences. Discover Live is fully active and participatory. It created memories for me that are similar to being there in person. It was really impactful. I had a great time and, even better, I clearly remember the entire time as if I had been there.”
Our trip started on the Île de la Cité, an island in the Seine. From there we walked north, passing Notre Dame and into one of my old neighborhoods, the Marais, which I was very much looking forward to seeing again. Notre Dame recently had a horrific fire that nearly destroyed it, and I was fearful of what we would see. It now is surprisingly cleaned up, in much better shape than I had imagined. Our guide Ed explained exactly what was going on there and the political controversies around the re-building process. It was the sort of information I would not have know the details of, even had I been there in person.
We were able to see and explore everything and anything that caught our attention
Because it was a live tour, we were able to see and explore everything and anything that caught our attention. For Jacqueline, it was the preponderance of hippopotamus renderings in the art galleries. Who knew Parisians had a thing for hippos? For me, what was most interesting was that the day-to-day life on the streets of Paris were as if COVID had never happened. There were almost no masks being worn, the cafes were full of people and, although there were fewer tourists on the street than in other years, the streets were vibrant with activity. With all the COVID issues in the world today, it was so hopeful seeing life going on normally.
With Discover Live, it was as if we had our own travel party — just the two of us and the guide. It was a delightful way to spend an hour with a friend in a city we were both familiar with, but wanted to explore once again. As we strolled the streets, we would ask our guide Ed to move closer to the things we wanted to know more about, or to look up at the sky for us, or explain some detail that caught our eye. Ed being a local and enthusiastically informed about his city, he was able to show us places that I had never seen before, even though I had lived there.
Want to be entered into a free giveaway of a virtual Discover Live trip to gorgeous Florence, Italy? AGEIST is doing a travel survey to find out where you most want to travel! Just click this link. The survey will take about a minute, and you will be entered to win this wonderful experience. It will be a sunset tour of Florence starting over the Arno River heading towards the famous Palazzo Pitti. As a special treat, a segment of the virtual Discover Live Florence trip will be done by bicycle so you and your friends can zip around the city, seeing all the sights. Super fun. Just fill out the quick 3-question survey and you are in.
Who would have thought that Zoom could be so much fun? If you are in America, your international travel options are just about zero this summer. Wouldn’t it be great fun to get together with some friends and have a Zoom tour party in a city you most want to visit? I am thinking I would love to do a tour with my mom and show her some of the places I have been that she has always wanted to visit.
Discover Live has been specializing in real-time virtual travel since 2018, but this genius innovation that COVID made even more relevant will stay with us for a long time after. I am thinking that I most definitely want to use it not only for a virtual travel experience, but also as a trip-planning tool. Getting a live tour of a place with a great guide before I go will help me have a good idea of the faux pas to avoid, and arm with me inside intel one can only get from a local. This would prove tremendously helpful, especially for cultures that can be entirely opaque to us westerners.
How great that I can now have a live travel experience from my living room. With all of us stuck in Groundhog Day, every-day-is-the-same sort of existences, it was a wonderfully enjoyable experience. I fully recommend you try an Un-Travel experience with Discover Live.