"Agoraphobic Traveller" Shows That Travel Is Possible Without Leaving Home

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Credit photos:
@streetview.portraits on Instagram.

As the COVID-19 pandemic grounds travel and fuels us to satisfy our wanderlust cravings digitally, Jacqui Kenny has been travelling the virtual world for years. 

Kenny, based in London, UK, runs the popular Instagram account @streetview.portraits -- under the pseudonym "The Agoraphobic Traveller" – documenting the travel experiences she enjoys right from her own home.

Kenny suffers from agoraphobia – an anxiety condition that causes fears of being in crowded places or leaving one's own home. It makes travelling a little difficult. 

But Kenny, after feeling like she was stuck in a rut back in 2016, found a way to reconnect with her creative spark and discover the world by using Google Street View. 

"I thought it was a little bit magic, Google Street View, it feels like a parallel universe, frozen in time," Kenny told CNN Travel.

"It ended up being a real life saver for me and gave me an entirely new perspective. My world was feeling very small, and it was so nice to have it expand again, despite the lack of physical travel. There really is no place quite like the imagination and you can use it to take you anywhere."

Kenny's Good Street View adventures show snapshots of pastel colored houses amid desert landscapes in Arizona, a row of colourful single-story townhouses in Mexico, and a man in a red jacket followed by a cow in Kyrgyzstan. 

"I love Google Street View," she says. "Just the scale of it and the ambition to map every street in the world is mind boggling. The fact you can jump from one side of the world to another in seconds and travel through a parallel world that is essentially billions of images stitched together, is just extraordinary."

Now, Kenny's project has grown beyond what she ever imagined. And she says it provides the perfect lens for examining our current situation as we follow social distancing – and no leisure travel – orders. With our health, livelihoods and day-to-day life all under threat and compromised, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

"It's such a scary time and it's no surprise that people are anxious and fearful," says Kenny. "My situation was different but I completely understand the frustration of not being able to travel far from home and the feeling of isolation."

She encourages anyone suffering right now to reach out via the digital world and find their own purpose.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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