Tips for virtual trips from Agoraphobic Travelers | Instant News


(CNN) – While the coronavirus crisis has limited most global travel, ordinary days see Jacqui Kenny spending the morning in the Arizon desert, lunching in Kyrgyzstan and nighttime wandering around Mongolia.

So how does Kenny do it? Yeah, he practiced.

Kenny suffered from agoraphobia – a condition of anxiety that made traveling outside, let alone traveling across continents, extremely difficult.

Back in 2016, stuck in the habit and feeling disconnected from his creative spark, Kenny began combing through Google Street View, looking for interesting pictures that sparked his imagination and chuckled with aesthetic tendencies.

Three years later, and Kenny’s project has expanded beyond what he imagined – and provides the perfect lens for examining our collective situation.

CNN Travel met with Kenny to get his advice to appreciate the world from your living room, and overcome the times that triggered this anxiety.

In a parallel world

Jacqui Kenny took a screenshot of this dog in Copiapo, Atacama Region, Chile.

Courtesy of Jacqui Kenny via Google Street View

“When I feel most isolated and anxious, I turn to creativity to try and help me process and express the feelings I have about my situation,” Kenny said to CNN Travel from England, where he is life is locked.

“It finally became a real life savior to me and gave me a completely new perspective. My world felt very small, and it was very exciting to expand again, despite the lack of physical travel.

There really is no place like imagination and you can use it to take you anywhere. “

Kenny shows screenshots of scenes he encountered in his Street View wandering: pastel-colored houses in the middle of a dry landscape in Texas or a cactus that adorns the streets of Arizona and children with blurry faces playing with the background of the mountains in Chile .

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Kenny took a service station shot in Winslow, Arizona, United States.

Courtesy of Jacqui Kenny via Google Street View

Kenny’s Instagram feed is very aesthetic.

He was careful about framing the pictures. He is looking for the perfect lighting conditions and colors appear.

And he embraces, not hides, the source of the picture.

Sometimes Google cars kick dust that blurs the scene. These images, veiled in a layer of dust, are some of Kenny’s favorites.

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Kenny found this scene in the Sechura District in Piura, Peru.

Courtesy of Jacqui Kenny via Google Street View

“I like Google Street View,” he said. “Just the scale and ambition to map every road in this world is confusing. The fact you can jump from one side of the world to another in a few seconds and travel through a parallel world where basically billions of images are stitched together, is just incredible.”

The more he explored the virtual world, the more Kenny noticed the common thread and themes that united the country and united the continent.

“It made me realize how similar we all are. Even though I travel from home, strangely it makes me feel more connected to the world than ever before,” he said.

His favorite countries to visit include Peru, Chile, Mongolia, Senegal and Kyrgyzstan. Often, Kenny continued to live in places he could not imagine ever visiting in “real” life.

“I was really drawn to the desert and I thought it might be because it both scared me and fascinated me,” he mused.

“As someone with agoraphobia, the desert is quite scary without easy exits or exits. Maybe I’m always looking for images that represent me and my anxiety in some way and who take me to certain places and environments.”

If anyone wants to follow in his digital footsteps, Kenny suggests starting with Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan.

“If you find something interesting, please let me know,” he said.

Live with agoraphobia

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Kenny suffered from agoraphobia and found it difficult to travel abroad.

Courtesy of Jacqui Kenny via Google Street View

Kenny’s drawings not only highlight how to explore the world virtually. They also offer a window to living with anxiety.

He said he wanted to highlight life with mental health conditions.

At first Kenny was worried about telling his followers about his situation, but being honest would only start a relationship, empathy, and further understanding.

He links this back to our current situation.

With our health, livelihoods and daily life all threatened and compromised, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

“This is a scary and not surprising time that people are anxious and scared,” Kenny said.

“My situation is different but I fully understand the frustration of not being able to travel far from home and feeling isolated.”

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This photo is from Arequipa, Peru.

Courtesy of Jacqui Kenny via Google Street View

Kenny said the Street View portrait changed his life – not just because they offered creative opportunities. Most important, the project prevented him from feeling alone.

“That has connected me with people from all over the world and I now have a truly global community. They have been a great support for me through difficult times,” he said.

Kenny encourages anyone who is suffering now to reach out through the digital world, and maybe find a destination amidst the unknown, if they can.

“For me, I found my joy through my creative work,” he said. “I want to change my limitations into something positive and satisfying and I hope that other people who are looking for can find their own path too.”

Future journey

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Since the project started, Kenny has traveled to New York for a solo exhibition.

Courtesy of Jacqui Kenny via Google Street View

Since the project started, Kenny held a solo exhibition in New York, sponsored by Google. This is an important moment in more than one way, because it involved his trip from his home in England to the United States.

Currently, Kenny is working on a photo book, titled “Many Nights,” in collaboration with poet Emily Berry.

He hopes it will be published later this year.

“We have been working on it for a very long time and I can’t wait to share it with everyone, especially because it’s very relevant to our time,” Kenny said.

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Kenny found this scene in Ulaanbaater, Mongolia.

Courtesy of Jacqui Kenny via Google Street View

There are still countries that Kenny hasn’t visited – not every country is on Street View now. He hopes Google will map more destinations in Africa and the Middle East.

After years of exploring the world through windows to unknown places, Kenny has collected a collection of around 40,000 images.

“I am not sure where all these findings will take me, but I do not feel that I have completed my Street View journey first,” he said.

Google copyright photo. Made by Jacqui Kenny.

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