When the world realised that travel was on hold for the foreseeable future, lots of museums and zoos started to open themselves up on camera. I can’t resist a penguin walking through an aquarium, but I wanted something more interactive than that. These are the best free virtual travel events that I found!
They have all taken place over Zoom. Each even tends to stick to a particular theme, but I’ve found that all the speakers have been open to interacting with people on the Chat and Q&A function.
WanderWorld – from Wanderlust Magazine
I went to the first Wanderlust virtual event on the 27th May and it was an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the magazine’s May/June issue. Lyn Hughes, co-founder and editor, hosted the event with five travel writers who had written pieces for the issue.
Lyn was fantastic at engaging with the chat and picking up on the Zoom Q&A section as we went along.
She wanted the atmosphere to be as close as possible to all of us sat around a table in a pub or cafe, and I think she achieved it! This atmosphere was what made me think they’re one of the best free virtual travel events.
It was a unique opportunity to ask experts on destination advice and get a personal response for the best time of year to visit the Galapagos, what lockdown in Morocco is like, and how much there is to see around Cape Town.
Carolyn Boyd told a hilarious story about how the birth of the English stereotype of French people with onions round their necks wearing a beret and a striped t shirt. Even better that the French seemingly have no idea that this is our stereotype of them!
National Geographic Traveller Magazine
This magazine had an in depth talk on Deconstructing Spanish Food. The Contributing Editor, Jo Fletcher Cross hosted the talk with panellists including Jose Pizarro, chef and author with three restaurants in London and Lauren Aloise from Devour Tours amongst others.
They talked about what makes Spanish food so special, concluding that it’s the simplicity of the dishes and freshness of the ingredients. There were a lot of fans of fresh Spanish tomatoes!
They also talked about the variety of cuisine across the country, and what could be uniquely experienced in different regions.
Their next event is about Japan, so they appear to be taking deep looks at different countries for their events. Their in-depth approach makes them one of the best free virtual travel events.
If you are heading to Spain, learn more about the amazing Batalla del Vino and What to Do in Madrid (including eating the world’s best steak).
This is Nomadic Matt’s online network. They’ve held lots of events during the lockdown period. They’re hosted in America, so the timezone can sometimes be an issue for me watching from the UK, but a lot of them have been during UK evening time.
Matt Kepnes hosted a book talk and chatted quite openly with everyone watching about the experience of travelling so intensely and his process for writing and blogging.
I also watched Steve Brock discuss How to Travel When You’re Not Travelling which discussed conducting better research and connecting with your environment whilst you’re away.
One reason why I think they’re among the best free virtual travel events is because of the diversity of their events. They’ve also been pretty small which means they’re interactive and friendly.
If you’re not already part of the Nomadic Network, I’d recommend that you join (it’s free!). It’s the friendliest group of travellers I’ve met so far!
Traverse mainly host their events for content creators, including bloggers and photographers. They have been doing weekly pub quizzes, followed by some kind of entertainment/music and then a relaxed pub chat if you stay awake that late.
They’ve had cocktail making demonstrations as well.
Traverse normally run face-to-face conferences for travel content creators, so a lot of the people involved already know each other. This is great for creating a friendly atmosphere, but it depends how you feel in terms of trying to fit into a new group.
You’ll need to sign up to their newsletter to stay up to date with the virtual events as they don’t list them on their website. They’re an energetic group of people so I fully expect them to keep innovating and engaging people with different events.
Impact Travel Alliance
Impact Travel Alliance want you to “travel in a way that empowers local communities and protect our earth.”
They’ve had several virtual events in May along this theme, and a cocktail making workshop thrown in as well.
I haven’t met someone that doesn’t want to learn more about how to travel in a more sustainable way that benefits the local community, so it’s great that they have this format to engage with more people. The first event I went to was a series of five different experts talking about a different sustainability topic, simply named: food, buy, wear, work and think.
Benita Robledo told us that “the more you pack, the more carbon emissions there will be,” and gave tips on how to minimise what you take on holiday but still stay stylish.
It was really interesting to hear from such a diverse group, and they all gave individual presentations rather than a panel format where one or two people can easily dominate.
If you’re heading to Costa Rica, here are my tips on choosing a more sustainable hotel.
Have you been to any virtual travel events yet? Let me know your favourites in the comments!