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(*All you need to pay is your monthly internet bill).

As the rain slaloms down my front room window on this gloomy October morning, I’m on an early morning summer stroll around Tokyo. The throngs of early morning commuters seem oblivious to the giant electronic boards displaying all sorts of products and famous faces overhead. All the while, I march on the spot next to my sofa. Soon, as I’m hiking through the affluent Ginza shopping district, I hear the kettle begin to reach the boil. I hit pause on the screen and nip into the kitchen to make my coffee, then don my headphones once more and continue on my journey around the Japanese capital.

This has become a very common event for me in 2020: like a lot of people in these times of pandemic, I’ve had to become creative about how I travel. I still love to go outside and explore the countryside. However, having been through the gruelling national lockdown earlier in the year in the UK and with an uncertain winter looming, I’ve had to take the outside indoors.

I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts that one way to achieve this has been to watch virtual hiking videos on YouTube of other places around the world. I’ve explored the Icelandic wilderness, traversed heavenly Hawaiian beaches and reached dizzying heights in Swiss mountains.

Although I’m not in these places for real, I’ve journeyed the world on a more intimate level than before.

This whole experience seems to be evolving and becoming a hobby in its own right.

Then, earlier this week, I watched videos by a YouTuber called Drew Binsky. He has been fortunate enough to visit every country in the world; it seems that he’s managed to captured a staggering amount of his trips on film. One feature of certain trips he undertakes is to challenge himself to see how far he can go on ten dollars in a day in capital cities across the world.

This made me think: maybe I could visit every capital city in the world! Okay, as I’ve highlighted, travelling afar isn’t a realistic option for me at present. Plus, I can only really afford a small holiday each year. But visiting every country is doable via YouTube. Every single 195 of them.

I’ve set myself a few rules for the challenge:
• I have a year to do this.
• I have to walk in at least each capital city for forty minutes a time.
• I have to learn five amazing facts about that country.
• If I can’t find a virtual walk of a country’s capital, then I must watch another video or two on that country and walk on the spot during that.

I started in Tokyo as Japan is the number one country I’d love to visit. I think I’ll tackle this challenge continent by continent, but it’s fine if I chose to tackle another area of the world for a bit too. If I think I’d like to stay in a country for a while and escape the city vibe, then that’s a good reason to read more widely and visit another part of that land via YouTube. I’m going to make a list of all the countries and capitals and write a few brief memories of each.

From previous searches on YouTube, I know it’s also possible to do tours of certain landmarks or museums in various cities. This will help me to explore the culture in various destinations a little more.

Also, I’ve found that by typing ‘Virtual World Tours’ into Google, there are other websites that open the world before my eyes.

Although this health and budget friendly way of travelling doesn’t beat immersing myself in the real world, I’m looking forward to gaining a flavour of what each country has to offer.

I hope this inspires anybody reading this to take up the challenge or even just to try a few virtual hikes. Who knows where it may take you once we’re more free to travel?

I’d be interested to hear what you think. Or it’d be great to hear from you if you’ve come up with any novel ways in being creative with your travel bug during these crazy times.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I truly hope that you and your loved ones are safe and have a good week.

Peace and love for now 🙂