Tips for Virtual Travel From an Agoraphobic

While the coronavirus crisis has restricted most global travel, a typical day sees New Zealander Jacqui Kenny spend the morning in Arizonian desert, lunch in Kyrgyzstan and the evening wandering streets in Mongolia, Francesca Street writes for CNN.

So how does Kenny do it? Well, she’s had some practice, Street discovers.

London-based Kenny runs a popular Instagram account @streetview.portraits – under the pseudonym “The Agoraphobic Traveller” – chronicling her experiences virtually voyaging the world from her own home.

Kenny suffers from agoraphobia – an anxiety condition that makes venturing outside, let alone travelling across continents, very difficult.

Back in 2016, stuck in a rut and feeling disconnected from her creative spark, Kenny started combing through Google Street View, looking for interesting images that sparked her imagination and chimed with her aesthetic leanings.

“I thought it was a little bit magic, Google Street View, it feels like a parallel universe, frozen in time,” Kenny told CNN Travel back in 2017.

Three years on, and Kenny’s project has grown beyond what she ever imagined – and provides the perfect lens for examining our collective situation.

“When I felt my most isolated and anxious, I turned to creativity to try and help me process and express the feelings I had about my situation,” says Kenny speaking to CNN Travel from the UK, where she’s living in lock down.

Kenny showcases screenshots of scenes she comes across on her Street View wanderings: pastel coloured houses amid arid landscapes in Texas or cacti dotting the streets of Arizona and children with blurred out faces playing against a mountainous backdrop in Chile.

Her favourite countries to visit include Peru, Chile, Mongolia, Senegal and Kyrgyzstan. Often, Kenny lingers on spots that she can’t imagine ever visiting in “real” life.

“I was really drawn to the to the desert and I think it might be because it both terrifies me and fascinates at the same time,” she ponders.

“As someone with agoraphobia, the desert is quite daunting with no easy escape or exit. Perhaps I was always looking for images that represented me and my anxiety in some way and that drove me to certain places and environments.”

Original article by Francesca Street, CNN, April 8, 2020.

Photo by Jacqui Kenny.

Tags: CNN  Google Street View  Jacqui Kenny  The Agoraphobic Traveller  

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