One year on and we are all still either discouraged, banned or simply not in the position – financially, mentally or physically – to travel. Despite missing our friends and family spread across the world we are missing the get-away, the dive into different cultures, smells, sounds and food. Though it can’t really replace travelling, E&M‘s author Friederike Sandow shares her travelling routine with you – from her desk to your’s. 

Back in July 2020 when I felt what I thought was peak pandemic-tired (lol I wish), I discovered windowswap. It’s a website that allows you to exchange your view out of your window with a view out of someone else’s in just one click.

Photo by www.window-swap.com

You can stay for as long as you like in someone’s home, watch their video recording of their window. More than that, you are pulled out of your own four walls not just visually, but also acoustically. You can listen to their daily background noises of music, distant kitchen clatter, some murmurs, cats purring or dogs barking, rain against their window, a thunderstorm in the background, sunshine that hits the garden, ocean or river view and wind rustling in the trees. It’s white noise for your eyes and ears.

Berlin, Germany; by user Michael (www.window-swap.com)
San Francisco, USA; by user Joey (www.window-swap.com)

You can see people running by, cars driving past, a deer in the garden feasting on plants.

Kirkland, USA; by user Julia (www.window-swap.com)
Brookyln, USA; by user Melissa (www.window-swap.com)

It’s an intimate view of someone’s life albeit just for a few minutes. You can assess their dying or thriving houseplants, judge or not judge their impeccable taste or their horrible taste, you can imagine the lives they live and the one you could be living, used to live or going to live. The holidays you might have, have had, never wanted or never knew you wanted.

Oaxaca, Mexico; by user Mike and Cynthia (www.window-swap.com)
Riga, Latvia; by user Deni (www.window-swap.com)

You can see their windows being uncleaned, it leaves you wondering how many people can actually be called Michael, how many people own cats (here’s your prime cat content), how many people live by water or in the mountains? How many people are surrounded by greens and how many people just look out on highways or cement walls and houses.

Washington DC, USA; by user Wole (www.window-swap.com)
Hyogo, Japan; by user Mia (www.window-swap.com)

It takes you all around the world – to Thailand, India, Japan, Brazil, Germany, France, US, Poland, Argentina, South Korea, Canada, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy – you name it.

Sotchi, Russia; by user Vofka (www.window-swap.com)
Bangalore, India; by user sid (www.window-swap.com)

If you click long enough, you might end up in places you have been before – of course not at this particular window, but somewhere with a similar view, or maybe you have walked that street, or you know what their region smells like, feels like? And this person who is allowing you a glance into their world maybe was there already when you were visiting years ago.

It’s addictive. And calming. And for me, once I got over my jealousy for people living by the seaside, it feels hopeful. And when you hit a window twice, it feels a little like you have returned to check in on them.

New York, USA; bs user Jonathan (www.window-swap.com)

Cover Photo: by Friederike Sandow – a view outside her window in Berlin, where she sat writing this.

  • retro

    Friederike Sandow loved her studies at the University of Bath and Berlin, she would study forever if she could. Once she quit her job as a flight attendant and thus, with a heavy heart, was not constantly off travelling the world, she started to roam the streets of Neukölln, Berlin. She is now working as a consultant at a Berlin based agency and still struggles with the regular office hours. Once the morning grumpiness has been cured with a big cup of coffee, she‘ll tell you all about her undying love for cats, octopuses, Italy and Leslie Knope.

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