Travel overseas without leaving your lounge room with Academy Travel

Academy Travel
📷 Academy Travel

Academy Travel, Australia’s leading provider of small group cultural tours, launched Live on Site to make international travel possible by hosting virtual visits at popular tourist locations. With hundreds of people looking for a dose of vicarious travel, enrolments are booming. Cultural travellers who are home-bound during the COVID-19 pandemic are now visiting Florence, Rome, Venice, Tallinn and Santiago de Compostela from the comfort of their lounge roomwith more locations in the pipeline.

Live on Site virtual visits last 90 minutes and combine the talents of an expert lecturer and a top local guide. In each visit,the lecturer provides background historical context, route maps and in-depth information about specific aspects of the tour.

“We are uniquely placed among travel companies to offer these Live on Site visits, as well as short courses and one-off lectures,” says Academy Travel Director Robert Veel.

Doing what they do best, local guides take their group of virtual travellers on a walking route that highlights the most significant cultural features of a city or site. The sessions, which take place on the Zoom platform, are moderated and participants can ask questions of either the lecturer or the local guide using the Zoom chat function.

The program has blossomed under the curatorship of Dr Kathleen Olive, who was already a popular tour leader and lecturer before COVID-19, and the virtual visits have continued to highlight her talents. “It’s no exaggeration to say they provide a unique experience,” says Dr Olive.

The local guides have just as impressive of a background as the expert lecturers, providing virtual tourists with an academically enriching tourist experience. Amongst the team of guides is Florence guide Freya Middleton, who has a Masters in Renaissance Studies from prestigious Warwick University, while others have Master degrees from institutions like Stanford University.

In an era when companies like Academy seek to implement environmentally sustainable strategies, online visits and courses have delivered an unexpected bonus. “You get a lot of the value from one of our virtual tours – expert leadership, local flavour and fabulous vistas –without stepping out of your lounge room,” says Mr Veel. “There’s no need for carbon credits or to worry about questionable claims of ‘low impact’ tourism. Clearly your online carbon footprint is miniscule compared to hopping on a plane and flying halfway around the world.”

Global reach is another benefit. “We’ve got expert tour leaders stretching from Copenhagen to Florida and clients not just all over Australia, but in the US, South Africa and the UK,” says Veel. “As long as we schedule sessions at the right time, we’re uniting a community of experts and learners from across the globe. You wonder why we didn’t think of it sooner. Sometimes it takes a crisis.”

Virtual travellers are able to pre-book sessions from the Live on Site series and choose from a variety of real-time journeys to some of the world’s most beautiful and historic destinations. Academy Travel is excited to be providing those who are travel-deprived the opportunity to make the most of their time spent at home and leave them with unique memories to look back on fondly during such a difficult year.

Luxor Temple in Egypt
Join Egyptologist Lucia Gahlin and local guide Galal Alsenusy as we explore magnificent Luxor Temple in the heart of ancient Thebes.
Lecturer: Lucia Gahlin | Local Guide: Galal Alsenusy
Wednesday 7 October 2020
5.00pm AEST or 7.00pm AEST

Charleston and the Old South
Discover the stately antebellum architecture and complex history of the Old South, on this walking tour with Dr Matthew Laing.
Lecturer: Stuart Barrie | Local Guide: Dr Matthew Laing
Wednesday 14 October 2020
9.00am AEST

In Vicenza with Palladio
Join Robert Veel, Elisabetta Amadi and Nick Gordon as we follow the footsteps of architect Andrea Palladio in elegant Vicenza.
Lecturer: Dr Nick Gordon | Local Guide: Robert Veel & Elisabetta Amadi
Wednesday 21 October 2020
6.00pm AEST

In Florence with the medici
Discover the impact of the Medici on Florence, from the celebrated baptistery and Brunelleschi’s dome to Michelangelo and Donatello’s sculptures.
Lecturer: Dr Nick Gordon | Local Guide: Freya Middleton
Wednesday 28 October 2020
6.00pm AEST

Egypt’s Temple of Karnak
Join Egyptologist Lucia Gahlin and local guide Galal Alsenusy as we explore the vast Karnak Temple, the largest temple complex in Egypt.
Lecturer: Lucia Gahlin | Local Guide: Galal Alsenusy
Wednesday 18 November 2020
5.00pm AEST or 7.00pm AEST