Long, unbearable flights? Virtual reality might be the answer…

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Photo by Freddy Duarte. Insta @freddy_duarte. Victoria Robertson in VR Glasses.

When you are a frequent flier like I am, the sky becomes a second home. I actually really love flying: the busy airports, the interesting strangers, the mystery of where everyone is voyaging off to, and the fact that in a certain number of hours I will be somewhere completely different.

I love it when we take off and I see the houses and cars get smaller and smaller until they disappear. It gives me sense of freedom. Like I have finally achieved some ultimate form of escape.

Hopper flights like the one I am on right now from San Diego to San Francisco are actually quite pleasant. Once I pass through the sometimes-tedious security line, put my hands in the air for a laser-style frisk, grab an overpriced coffee, and pray for no unpredictable delay, I find myself sitting comfortably in my aisle seat, sipping my free apple juice and then, as if no time has passed at all, I am preparing for landing!

Short flights equal happy times. When I take an international flight…. Now THAT is a different story.

There are those times when being on an airplane feels like some form of cruel and unusual punishment that my slightly ADD brain can hardly bare. Especially when I do not have the luxury of a “lie flat” first class seat. One particular journey, I was sitting in a middle seat, completely exhausted from jet lag as I take a ten-hour flight across the Pacific, trying desperately to tune out the annoying neighbors talking way too loudly and the rocking of the seat in front of me as it practically lands in my lap.

I was squished, it was crowded, I had a headache and I developed a severe case of claustrophobia. I wanted to get to where I am going, but the flight seemed unbearable. And that is when I discovered an amazing use for virtual reality.

I had in my bag the latest Oculus Go VR headset and a bunch of content that my business partner and I uploaded to show to potential clients. I remembered him telling me about some cool new 360 videos that he wanted to me check out, and it was the opportune time.

It was the most ideal scenario to my current anxious situation for as soon as I popped on that headset, my claustrophobia disappeared and I was no longer trapped on an airplane at all…I was floating down the Colorado River!

If you have not yet experienced 360 video or “Virtual Reality” content on an Oculus Go VR headset, you must. Full stop. It transports your brain to another location. Of course I promote this technology, because my company, World Travel VR, creates 360 VR video of worldwide destinations for the tourism industry. But little did I realize how much I would have needed it as a consumer.

As soon as I popped on the headset, everything opened up. I could look above me and see the rocks climbing up to the sunset sky. I could look behind me and see some virtual friends in the boat with me. Below me, the moving water was reflecting the colors of the sky and the river stretched before me as if it would never end. I was there. I was really there.

I sensed that people in the airplane were staring at me as they walked down the aisle. I mean, the headset did resemble large ski goggles, and I was smiling as I turned my head all around engaged in my environment. An unusual sight to be sure. I bet secretly they wanted to have a peak to see what engaged me so completely. Perhaps they were jealous that they were trapped and I was free.

Technology is very exciting. Anything that distracts me from being trapped in a flying bus for over 10 hours is a Godsend. I remember the first time I saw a woman on the plane with an iPad. Now, an iPad screen can be seen glowing from at least every other aisle. If companies like World Travel VR keep producing such amazing 360 content and the Oculus Go VR headsets catch on, I imagine, pretty soon, we shall all be sitting on our ten-hour flights with smiles on our faces.

While flying to Europe together, we could be transported independently to completely different worlds: like the Colorado River, the Congo, the top of the Matterhorn, or even the moon! With Virtual travel, the sky is no longer our limit.

We may not need even to fly anywhere anymore. Just experience the world from the comfort of our homes.

But where’s the fun in that?

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