So much of the experience of travel is based on prior knowledge. You travel to the country you know to enjoy the activity you have heard of or seen on TV. But what if you want to blaze a completely new trail? What if you want to visit the destinations that are not advertised, that are not commercially recognized? How do you find those treasures?
MapCrunch provides you with random access to Google Maps’ collection of street view images. You can pick a country to explore, or just click the “go” button to be transported to a random destination. This is a particularly effective method of exploration if you are particular to those destinations that are paved. These images were collected by a specially adapted fleet of Google vehicles (in some cases tricycles) that were fitted with 9 way directional cameras to collect the raw image of every few feet of roadside. (More information)
Flickr Related Tag Browser allows you to search their worldwide database of images with a series of tags. So, if you have discovered from wandering the streets of MapCrunch that you really like the looks of the east coast of South Africa and you know you particularly enjoy bird watching while on vacation, type in “South Africa, birds”.
Microsoft’s Photosynth is a free app available on various smartphone platforms. People are able to take 360 pictures of anywhere in the world and upload them to the website for others to view and enjoy. These images are not edited in photoshop and are taken by everyday locals and travelers (as opposed to professional photographers). You get the real deal with these images.
If you have any other suggestions for armchair travelers, please add your comments below.