WV Travel Team: Take a virtual vacation without ever leaving your home

Essential reporting in volatile times.

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After the pandemic struck and travel restrictions were initiated, my travel plans for the foreseeable future were put on hold or canceled altogether.

As a travel writer, this is my livelihood and my passion. Whether traveling domestically or internationally, I love sharing my experiences with anyone who will listen. And while the proverbial plane has been both literally and figuratively grounded and I don’t envision collecting any passport stamps anytime soon, it hasn’t curtailed my wanderlust.

As I sit here in the safety of my basecamp (also referred to as my home) in Charleston, I’m using this downtime to prepare for the moment that restrictions are lifted and I can once again take off for another adventure.

Don’t get me wrong — nothing beats staring across the open chasm along the rim of the Grand Canyon or watching the sunrise from the Sun Gate high in the Andes overlooking Machu Picchu.

However, our travel itineraries have been temporarily derailed due to the pandemic. Therefore, we can only daydream about far-flung locations and bucket list trips that will just have to wait.

On a positive note, this unprecedented time can be an opportunity to virtually explore some of the great natural and man-made treasures in the world and across our nation.

Whether you plan to virtually travel solo or as a family, here are few ways to explore our national parks, famous world sites and museums from the comfort and safety of our own homes. And as a bonus, one site is offering free language lessons for students.

National parks

James Bryce called national parks “the best idea America ever had.” The first national park was created in 1872; there are now more than 60 that carry that designation. Most, if not all, are currently closed to the public. However, you can still explore 31 of them via Google Earth. From Yellowstone to Acadia, you can visit a new park each day for a month.

So, don’t bother lacing up your boots, or leaving the sofa for that matter. Your adventure can begin with a simple click of the mouse.

World heritage sites

There are sites around the world that have long captured the imagination of archaeologists and history enthusiasts alike. Google Earth can transport you to 30 such locations that have been deemed culturally, historically or scientifically significant. Kick off your tour at the Pyramid of Khufu (Egypt), the Taj Mahal (India), Stonehenge (England) or the Archaeological Areas of Pompeii (Italy).

Though not a tour offered by Google Earth, Machu Picchu is perhaps one of my favorites. The mystical citadel wasn’t re-discovered until the early 20th century and is now one of the most visited sites in the world. While its actual purpose remains a mystery, the ruins attract multitudes each year looking to walk in the footsteps of the Inca.


Strolling the great museums of the world is likely at the top of the list for the intrepid traveler. While their doors remain closed, it’s still possible to peruse collections like those found in the Louvre in Paris and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. While some offer a glimpse of unique collections, others offer multi-hour tours.

Don’t limit yourself to just the two listed above. With a quick search of the web, you can explore an array of collections ranging from art to natural history.

Visit: hermitagemuseum.org; louvre.fr/en

Learn a language

Rosetta Stone is offering three months of free access to its language platform for students. While it’s a great opportunity for students, it can also be a great family activity. With more than 20 languages to choose from, this immersive experience might just be the catalyst that inspires your next vacation destination.

Clay Abney is a Charleston-based travel writer who loves bouncing around the globe and exploring new adventures in the Mountain State. Reach him by email at clayabney@gmail.com.

Funerals for Saturday, july 11, 2020

Bias, Mary - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Bsharah, Mary - 11 a.m., St. George Orthodox Cathedral.

Burkhart, Charlotte - 11 a.m., Kanawha Valley Memorial Gardens, Glasgow.

Cain, Dennis - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Grantsville.

Holcomb, William - 10 a.m., Sunset Cemetery, Bickmore.

King, Ruth - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home, Nitro.

McLeod, Julius - 3 p.m., streaming live, see obituary.

Null,  Virginia -11 a.m., Haven of Rest Memorial Gardens, Red House.

Parsons, Olivia - 5 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Pauley, William - 2 p.m., Kelly's Creek Community Church, Sissonville.

Surratt, Carol - 11 a.m.,  Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Webb, Betty - 3 p.m., Loudendale Freewill Baptist Church.