We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.
While we're living in uncertain times, it seems as though there's at least one constant: Zoom. Whether it's for work meetings or happy hours with friends and family, most of us are spending a lot more time on the video conferencing app. But just because you’re in a virtual gathering – and not out in the world – doesn’t mean you should settle for a boring Zoom background. Instead, let your background inspire your (and your fellow conference goers') next bucket-list trip. Here are 12 incredible travel-related virtual backgrounds from around the world you haven’t seen before.
Park Avenue Trail, Utah
Surprise your co-workers with a Zoom background of Park Avenue ... Utah? Located in the show-stopping Arches National Park in southern Utah, this particular crop of rock formations are named after the famed New York City thoroughfare. Whether you’re there via Zoom or in person, squint your eyes and see how the desert canyon resembles the concrete jungle – but we'll admit, a much more idyllic version.
If your spring ski vacation was canceled due to coronavirus, using snow-covered mountains as a backdrop should be right in your wheelhouse. Located atop the Grimentz ski resort in the Swiss Alps, this background will make you feel like you’re about to ski off-piste down the mountain. If we’re daydreaming, you may as well stop for an aprés-ski of fondue and champagne at the base chalet.
Cape Blanco, Oregon
Tropical beaches make a natural go-to for virtual backgrounds – because who wouldn't want to be sitting by the ocean with a cocktail in hand right now? But if you love the ocean and want a background that’s perhaps a bit more inspired, try this spectacular photo of Cape Blanco on the Oregon coast. This state park is home to the oldest standing lighthouse in Oregon, miles of walking trails and cabins available to rent. (Hello, future road trip!)
Hudson Yards, New York
Opened in 2019, this eye-catching structure is the centerpiece of one of New York City's newest developments, Hudson Yards. (And, yes, you can climb those 2,500 steps to the top for an amazing view of the Hudson River.) Both eye-catching and uplifting, this photo serves a reminder of the city's endless possibility, even during challenging times. Set it as your Zoom background and put on your favorite “I Love New York” T-shirt to complete the theme.
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
If you’re missing faraway places, this photo of the Boh Tea Plantation in Malaysia may temporarily quench your thirst for travel. Located in the gorgeous Cameron Highlands, this particular site is one of the most popular in Malaysia. Use it as a Zoom background during work meetings to impress your co-workers with the next spot on your bucket list. Maybe it will motivate you to finally schedule that trip to Southeast Asia trip you’ve been dreaming of.
Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan
This striking background is sure to be a conversation starter. Located in Kyoto, Japan, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its rows of vermilion torii gates – nearly 5,000 in total. The architecture of this remarkable walkway is indicative of the Shinto religion, and this particular shrine honors of the gods of rice and sake. And now that you know all of this, you can use it to break the ice at the start of your next Zoom meeting.
Elephant Island, Antarctica
This photo of Antarctica’s rugged beauty is not only dazzling, but it’s also a good reminder to look on the bright side of quarantine. How so? With so many people stuck at home due to the coronavirus, carbon emissions are expected to drop more than 7% in 2020. That's good news for the southernmost continent – with lower emissions, Antarctica’s spectacular icebergs might stick around longer than previously expected.
Looking for a fun quarantine game? Pick an architectural photo from around the world, set it as your Zoom background, and see if anyone can guess the city. This particular photo of the sprawling Indonesian capital of Jakarta is a great place to start. You can even add bonus points if someone can identify the featured statue. (Psst — it’s the Selamat Datang Monument, which translates to “the welcoming statue” in Indonesian.)
Shrine Pass, Colorado
At this point during quarantine, a mountain sunset in a field of wildflowers sounds like something out of a dream. Whether you’re using Zoom during the workday or to connect with your meditation group, this photo of the Shrine Pass in Colorado might be just what you need to relax. Set it as your as your virtual background and take a second to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that this too shall pass.
This one is certainly appropriate for your next Zoom happy hour. Since beer flows in the streets of Bruges, why not pretend you’re grabbing a pint (or two) with some friends in Belgium? Before you set this as your background, find your fanciest glass, grab a beer (preferably a Dubbel, Tripel, or Quadrupel), and get ready to toast your friends from afar. Proost!
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
If you miss going to museums, then this Zoom background is for you. Van Gogh’s 1889 self-portrait, which hangs in the Musée d’Orsay, will give you a dose of much-needed culture – even when working in your pajamas. With this background, you can pretend you’re spending the afternoon perusing world-famous works of art in the Parisian museum. Next up? A french baguette and a nice bottle of burgundy – after working hours, of course.
What’s more idyllic than a rushing waterfall cascading over a lush, green mountainside? How about a rainbow smack-dab in the middle of the photo? Instead of another Zoom meeting, it’s safe to say most of us would like to be transported to this scene, as soon as possible. Regardless of whether or not Iceland is on your bucket list, this photo of the Skógafoss waterfall will bring some cheer to your next virtual call.