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Explore before you go with travel video

Get it on film (courtesy Dom Dada on Flickr's Creative Commons)

Online video is a great concept, but I rarely have time to sift through the thousands of clips to find the good stuff, and then spend time watching the clips.

(You will never get me to confess my addiction to finding old 1980s Van Halen music videos and watching David Lee Roth jump around, no matter how many pointy objects you stick under my fingernails!)

Still, the idea of exploring a place through video before you travel there (or nostalgically looking at stuff after you return) has a lot of appeal.  I thought I’d try a little experiment from our family trip to Virginia and see what sorts of videos I could find to highlight some of the places that we visited.

My inspiration was a post at Brave New Traveler called 5 Places To Watch Free Travel Video Guides.

**  At GeoBeats, they feature non-US destinations, but they’re still in beta so I’m sure the offerings will expand.   I was immediately distracted by their numerous videos for Hong Kong, which as you know is probably my favorite city in the world.  There is plenty to see for London, Paris, India, Italy….go check them out.

**  Zoom And Go has a ton of clips, submitted by members called “Travel Reporters” (membership is free.)  That means that quality will vary greatly, but I was impressed with the level of professionalism of many of the videos; people really seemed at ease in front of the camera and they did a nice job splicing together scenes and music.  Some videos were rather jerky, but not intolerably so.  I was excited to find Shellseeker‘s gallery of photos and a few videos from Colonial Williamsburg, one of the places we visited in Virginia.  The little thumbnail boxes with a “play” arrow are the videos, and the rest are still photos.  She made a video of a lady singing and playing the pianoforte at the Peyton Randolph house.

**   I cannot recommend the Traveler Videos site, which basically aggregates video content from a variety of other sites. It was too slow and clunky, my computer froze up a few times, and many of the linked sites seemed very commercial.  I’d rather watch a regular person’s humble efforts to capture a place than deal with pop-ups and ad-packed sites.

**  The Travelistic video site was fun, and I found some unique twists on places we’d just visited, like this more urbanish/hip-hop video about Virginia Beach, made with a local guy who’s a poet.  Older kids would like it — he talks to skateboarders and surfers, and the video is made in the winter so you see the Virginia Beach oceanfront when it’s devoid of tourists. 

**  Obviously the granddaddy of online video is YouTube, and when I searched the YouTube travel section for Virginia I did find some good items among the weird, dumb ones like “Girls with Guns.”  There was art and culture in Norfolk VA, a nice long one with music about Jamestown, and when I searched for “Colonial Williamsburg” I got a long group of video links.  How about a short clip of the costumed Fifes and Drums as they march down Duke of Gloucester Street

More and more tourist Web sites and CVB (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) Web sites are featuring podcast and video, and this part of Virginia is no exception. 

I found this page of Colonial Williamsburg-related audio and video, including a high-bandwidth video about Revolutionary City, which is sort of an ongoing living history play about the Revolution that is performed out in the streets of Williamsburg where visitors can enjoy it.  

National Geographic magazine did a big article about Jamestown and I found a page of video links about it (mostly talking heads, so not that great for kids, but full of info.) 

The Jamestown Settlement site has two Flash videos, one about the 1607 voyage of the colonists from England and another about Powhatan and Pocahontas.

I will confess that I’ve never owned a video camera myself, but we had a small one-time-use digital video camera with us on this Virginia trip.  I kept forgetting that I had it until finally on the last day, I filmed a few scenes in Williamsburg and discovered that I loved making little movies.  Once I fill up the camera and have it developed I’ll try to upload a few scenes to the blog, and I plan to keep practicing by buying another one for our upcoming road trip to Chicago. 

If I really do continue to enjoy filming, then I guess it’s time to start pricing video cameras for when I hit the lottery.  Meantime, enjoy surfing for travel videos; I certainly did.

Technorati tags: travel, family travel, travel videos, Virginia