YouTube videos are an invaluable travel resource. They can give you a sneak peak of a future destination, help you plan activities for your next trip, and even offer a reflection of past experiences you may want to relive or share with others. If it can be done or seen somewhere in the world, chances are someone has done it, seen it, recorded it, and posted it on YouTube.
I started viewing YouTube videos in Tokyo, Japan. Staying in a hotel near Narita Airport, I wanted to venture out and explore the area. There was a free shuttle from the hotel that made a stop at the train station, and I had heard of a temple nearby. I went to YouTube and typed in Narita Temple and sure enough there were several videos of the Temple. The two most informative ones showed how to walk to it and what to see along the way. I was hooked; I visited the temple and my experience was enhanced because I had viewed the YouTube videos. A new resource had been discovered and I have used it ever since.
Another time the videos helped out was when my friend wanted to take the train from Sydney to Melbourne, Australia but only if it was scenic and worth the extra time, versus taking a short flight. After viewing several YouTube videos, she was convinced that she was better off taking the short flight.
In another instance, I knew I was going to be flying in a suite on the Emirates A380 so I went on YouTube to get an idea of what I was in for. That was a preview that rocked.
If you’ve ever tried to describe an area of the world or an experience to someone, you know it can be difficult even when you have photos. YouTube can help you with that. I have shared the videos of the Bird Market in Hong Kong, where the elderly men walked their birds, and of the diverse offerings of Green Market in Almaty, Kazakhstan as well as the chaos in the ancient Durbar square in Kathmandu, Nepal. After trying unsuccessfully to describe the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas to a friend, I only got a “wow” reaction after the YouTube video.
Reliving an experience has value as well. I was able to watch the Thai dancers I saw at the night market in Chang Mai, and relive the elephant ride I took earlier that same day. I watched the video of the Whirling Dervishes performing at the Istanbul train station just as I had seen them in person years ago.
It’s like having a library of travel videos in your pocket. The quality varies widely of course, ranging from very amateur to the professional videos posted by tourism boards, but it is an invaluable travel resource for a glimpse of what you may see at your destination, ideas on what to do when you get there, and a remembrance of what you may have already experienced and would like to share.
Have you used YouTube videos for travel planning or for sharing your travel experiences?