As we age, some things become more difficult. We can no longer travel as easily as we used to. Or, there could be a pandemic going on..such as COVID-19 that may be keeping you from family vacations, or your favorite spot to just getaway. But what if there was a way to travel without leaving your home? That’s where virtual reality comes in.
Virtual reality can take you anywhere in the world, and it’s a great way for not only seniors to explore new places but anyone. The great thing is, you can do this all without having to worry about catching planes, spending a fortune on excursions, or getting around in general.
Whether you’re looking to tour ancient ruins or visit exotic locations, virtual reality is the perfect way to do it. And best of all, you can do it from the comfort of your own home! So, if you’re looking for a new way to travel, consider virtual reality. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss.
As a senior lifestyle magazine, we want to focus on some things you can do for yourself, with the family, or with friends so, let’s take a look at some things you might want to know first.
What Virtual Reality Is and How It Works
Virtual reality is an artificial three-dimensional environment that is created with software and displayed through a headset or special goggles. When you put on the headset, you are completely immersed in the virtual world. You can look and walk around, and the experience feels very real.
So, how does it work? Virtual reality works by taking pictures of a real location and then stitching them together to create a virtual world. So, you could be walking down the streets of Paris or standing in front of the Great Wall of China. It’s really amazing how realistic it can be.
Another great thing is that many applications that can be used within VR are socially enabled. This means that in some applications you could interact with other people. This could include talking, dancing, or even playing games.
The Benefits of Virtual Reality for Seniors
There are many benefits to using virtual reality for seniors. The main areas that get a lot of attention are that it can help to reduce loneliness. With new advancements being created and integrated with virtual reality, seniors could even benefit from an improvement in their medical care. Aside from that, you can get a realistic feeling of being just about anywhere, all from your home.
This means endless adventure and entertainment. Keep in mind though, while VR is exciting and fun to explore, it’s recommended to only keep a VR headset on for about an hour. After the first hour, you should give yourself a minimum of a 15-minute break before continuing.
Let’s take a close look at a few more benefits:
You can travel without leaving your home
You can visit family and friends who live far away without having to travel (VR experiences can often be connected with other users)
You can stay active and engaged
Virtual reality is a great way to socialize and meet new people
Allows you to do something different
VR stimulates the brain and promotes movement
While you can move around in VR, if you are going to be doing a lot of movement, we suggest making sure you have enough space before starting. This will help to ensure you don’t have any falls or other injuries from bumping into or tripping over anything. You may want to consider sitting down until you get the hang of it. Don’t worry, you can still move around in VR without actually using your legs.
Another great benefit is how it can help your health. VR can help with chronic pain relief and management, helps to combat stress, and it can help with social isolation due to the pandemic.
How to Get Started With VR Travel
Now that we’ve answered some common questions and talked about some of the benefits, let’s get started with VR travel. The first thing you’ll need is a headset. While VR goggles can be pretty expensive, you don’t have to go with those options to start out. The great thing is, you can often get a pair of VR goggles from any online marketplace like Amazon for less than $20.
Then you would take advantage of the app store on your smartphone and take your pick of multiple VR apps. That’s right, both the apple and android app stores have various VR-compatible apps for interactive experiences, traveling, etc. What’s even better is that many of them are free.
So, as we mentioned, all you really need is a smartphone to get started. After downloading a VR app you would simply place your phone into a Google Cardboard viewer. Google Cardboard viewers are very affordable and often start at around $15. Once you have your headset, it’s time to choose your destination.
There are many virtual reality apps that offer travel experiences. Some examples could be, Google Earth VR, Virtual Tourist 360, and Within VR. These apps will allow you to explore different locations from all over the world.
Here are a few additional tips to help you get the most out of your virtual reality travel experiences:
- Make sure you have enough space to move around safely
- Take physical precautions
- Always read the safety warnings on the goggles you get
- Start with shorter experiences and work your way up to longer ones
- Take breaks often to give yourself a break from the immersion
- Have fun and simply explore
Give These Popular Destinations for VR Travel a Try
The thing with VR is that you can travel just about anywhere, from anywhere. However, there are some destinations that have been popular when it comes to virtual visits. A few of those places are:
- Machu Picchu
The Grand Canyon
A Cell In Alcatraz
While there are multiple destinations, you could easily turn a VR experience into a fun outing with friends or families. Many businesses including museums, stores, and sometimes restaurants, offer virtual reality experiences.
Who Shouldn’t Use VR?
Keep in mind that there is a way to use and not to use VR. If you have never used it before you should give yourself time to get used to it and not fully immerse yourself all at once for prolonged periods. What’s important news for seniors is that VR in some cases can disrupt your sensory systems. This is with anything that could affect the senses. However, VR can lead to things like nausea, dizziness, and even loss of balance. These symptoms together are called virtual reality sickness.
Give It a try
As a senior living resource magazine, we like to provide Our Seniors with fun ways to approach things. While virtual reality is popular for gaming, and remote work, it’s just as popular for traveling, connecting with others, and it’s even becoming more used in telehealth methods. If you’re looking for a way to escape to the tropics, or see the pyramids, consider VR travel.