6 Google Daydream Travel Experiences You Need to Try RN
Google Daydream View is your ticket to highly-creative travel experiences—and you don’t even have to leave the couch
There is no shortage of reasons why the Google Daydream View—Google’s sleek mobile VR headset—is the best in its class. For starters, it comes with an easy-to-use controller (think Nintendo Wii) that allows you to navigate and interact with content. The headset is designed to fit over most eyeglasses, and the fabric around the lenses can be removed and washed (so no more funky smells). Plus, the image quality is top of the line since the Daydream View is only compatible with Pixel smartphones—and the Pixel XL offers a rather sexy 1,440 x 2,560 resolution. All of these factors and so many more make the Daydream View the most comfortable way to browse mobile VR content today.
As a content creator who is obsessed with travel, I spent hours—many many hours—searching for new and engaging travel-related content in the Daydream View. What I discovered is that there is a lot of content (both good and bad) available in the Google Play Store but no real centralized way to browse or search by subject. So, I downloaded just about every relevant VR app that I could and skimmed through its programming one by one. I narrowed my quest for the best by looking for content that was 1) free and 2) related to travel in some shape or form, whether a news report or comedy sketch. What follows, in no particular order, are some of my favorite travel experiences currently available in the Google Daydream View.
Comedy in the Skies
This flight in coach is the stuff of nightmares—don’t worry, United Airlines isn’t dragging you out of your seat in this experience. However, you will be forced to sit between two of the most hilariously obnoxious passengers and self-proclaimed “sex-hibitionists” as they invade your personal space, make out, barbecue sausages and do their sex stretches. In the “Airplane” episode of “Virtually Mike and Nora,” prepare to laugh and cringe in equal parts.
“Virtually Mike and Nora” debuted on the Google Daydream View and is currently in its second season. The scripted comedy series, starring former SNL writer Mike O’Brien and Nora Kirkpatrick of “The Office,” explores bizarre situations in 360 degrees.
How to Find it: Download the Hulu app (and opt for the free trail)
Boiler Room in Berlin
Full stop, “VR Dancefloors: Techno in Berlin” is one of my favorite mobile VR experiences yet. A collaboration between the uber-hip Boiler Room and Google Pixel, this Berlin clubbing experience gives you the flexibility to choose your own adventure. Boiler Room throws you in a dark, industrial nightclub, surrounded by Berlin electronic trio FJAAK as they perform a live set. But if you look upward and turn around, you’ll spot glowing orbs that act as portals. When you hover your controller over them and press select, you’ll be transported to different scenes from within the club.
I loved transporting myself to the middle of the dance floor and watching clubbers try out dance moves of all styles as well as flirt with each other—some opting to leave the club for what looked like to be a steamy threesome. I also got a kick out of the chill-out room where scenesters either zoned out or chatted each other up among flickering candles, empty beer bottles and some guy dressed like a puppy dog.
How to Find it: Download the Inception VR app
Space Out, Man
Travel to space via beautiful 3-D simulations designed by Donny Ortiz of Virtual Escapes, a VR company whose mission is to provide simulated trips through solar systems and extraterrestrial planets while the space travel industry is still in its infancy. In the “Travel to Helix Nebula” experience, you’ll ride in a futuristic spaceship through an interstellar cloud, located some 700 light years away. In the “Return to Trappist-1” simulation, you’re part of a fleet of spaceships that fly by the seven earth-like planets of Trappist-1, a sister solar system that scientists discovered in February of this year.
How to Find it: Download the VeeR VR app
North Korea, WTF
One of the greatest aspects of VR and 360 video is that it can take you to places you wouldn’t normally visit, or in this case specifically, aren’t even allowed to visit. I’m talking about the enigma that is North Korea.
In “Enter North Korea,” CNN correspondent Will Ripley, takes you on an informative journey through several areas where his crew is permitted including the Grand Monument on Mansu Hill, the birthplace of Kim Il-sung, the Pyongyang Marathon and Kim Il-sung Square.
We visit Kim Il-sung Square during the day of Day of the Sun, a tribute to North Korea’s founding father Kim Il-sung and what is considered to be the most important celebration in the land. Here, thousands gather in the square to perform choreographed songs and marches that praise three generations of the ruling family. Our narrator, who has made a dozen reporting trips to North Korea, pointedly describes Kim Il-sung Square as a “giant open space” that “personifies a society in which the individual is just a small part of the collective.” According to Ripley, “this sweeping plaza is designed to make the individual feel small and the society feel huge.” Yep. CNN’s North Korea experience gives you a taste of this mindfuck of a nation—from the safety of your Daydream View.
How to Find it: Download the CNN VR app
Each Thursday, USA Today releases an episode of “VRtually There,” a 360-degree show that incorporates three short adventure experiences. While there doesn’t seem to be much of a common thread among the clips, the company describes them as “one just for the thrill of it, one epic adventure and one dream destination.”
Co-produced with YouTube, the videos cover everything from canyoneering in Arizona and swimming with sharks off the coast of Oahu to exploring Joshua Tree National Park. Personally, I liked visiting Black Rock City at Burning Man the best because we hear the personal reflections of a festival-goer while watching Burning Man’s famous Temple Burn ritual. My complaint about this style of programming, however, is that some of the experiences aren’t that engaging, so there’s no true consistency as you go from one episode to the next.
London Like a Ninja Turtle
The Guardian—the U.K.’s premiere news agency and newspaper—is killing it with its VR and 360-degree videos. While there are only four experiences available at the moment, they are each pretty special.
In “Underworld,” you explore London’s Victorian sewer system from the Smithfield Market to the floodgates for the River Thames. Did you know that there are more than 1,100 miles of sewage tunnels running underneath London? That’s a lot of poop!
In this unusual exploration of London, use your controller as a flashlight and move by facing the direction you want to go and holding the select button on the controller. You will learn more than you ever wanted to know about London’s sewers while finding your way out of this dark, cavernous underbelly.
How to Find it: Download The Guardian VR app