Travel by Drone: The Latest in Armchair Travel

by  Tommy Burson | Aug 13, 2014
iPad / grinvalds/iStock

Every so often the world of armchair travel shakes up with a new revelation. Last time we covered this, we explored North Korea’s Tourism app, and before that we reviewed Google’s travel updates. Now, we have something else that's taking remote wanderlusting to a whole new level: drones. While much of the media associates drones with militaristic projects, these machines can also capture beautiful panoramas from stuning vantage points most of us don't have the privilege of enjoying -- outside of airplanes and the occasional Planet Earth episode, rarely do we see a bird's-eye view of the world.

So how exactly do you “travel by drone"?

You'll find plenty of videos shot by drones on sites like YouTube, but a new site is making this type of armchair travel experience easier and even more satisfying. Travel By Drone, launched by Jan Hierzement this spring, has become a platform for sharing and discovering drone videos of landscapes all over the world. Created specifically with armchair travelers in mind, the site takes user submissions that other visitors can then find via a huge map, with pins indicating where films have been shot. Scroll through the map and virtually travel anywhere from the Swiss Alps to Thai beaches to Detroit’s modern day ruins. Alternatively, you can browse the Editor's Picks for curated selections, or see the newest additions to the site.

And that’s not even the best part. These videos go from awesome to epic thanks to the Hans Zimmer-like soundtracks that accompany each video. Imagine traveling above ancient Roman sites, or watching a sunset amidst the Serengeti, with the tunes of “Now We Are Free” from Gladiator swelling in the background.

We can only expect more of these videos to transport us to worlds we haven't (yet) experienced. In fact, the FAA estimates that there could be as many as 7,500 civilian hobbyist drones in a mere five years. If you want in on the action, the good news is that camera-equipped zones can be had at just a few hundred dollars, about the typical price as a point-and-shoot. Just make sure you stay up to date on the official rules, in addition to general environmental and privacy considerations. The National Park Service, for one, has suspended the use of unmanned aircraft in its parks after a series of disturbances and, unfortunately, some damages. 

But enough talk. For now, sit back, watch, and enjoy.

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