While it is not a website designed and populated with content by missionaries, Virtual Tourist is still a great place to get information about the mission field you will be working in. Virtual Tourist is a travel guidebook written by common travelers about the places they visit. Looking up your own home town may show you what outsiders travel to your city to see. These may be places that you have visited before, but considered common because they were in your own back yard. Getting someone else’s perspective may breathe new life into activities that you have long forgotten.
As you research the country you are going to be serving as a missionary you can use Virtual Tourist as a resource to find out what other foreigners find interesting in the area. If you already live on the foreign field, but are curious as to what attracts travelers to your country or city, Virtual Tourist can give you a little insight.
As mentioned, it is certainly not a directory compiled by missionaries. There are plenty of bars and nightclubs mentioned in the listings. However, there are also museums, coffee shops and family oriented activities that may be of interest.
I did find that it was much easier to navigate the site by typing in the exact name of the town you are looking for instead of trying to use the interactive map. The map causes you to have to dig through several layers to get to the towns in the area. When looking up my hometown on the map, there were no listings. But when I searched for the town by name, several items popped up. Using the destination search bar is faster and yields more results.
The website encourages its users to have local meetings to meet with fellow travelers from the same area. People visiting from the far away can drop in on these meetings as well. If you find yourself in need of a random meeting with someone who speaks your language and understands your culture, this may be an opportunity to meet someone from back home. There is also a forum members can participate in.
I am not interested in meeting people through face to face meetings or through the forums. Yet finding out about restaurants and family activities through Virtual Tourist is something that is a big help as we settle in to a new city.
Check out Virtual Tourist and see what kind of information you can learn about your city or area of ministry. You might even become a contributer to let others know what you have enjoyed as you minister on the foreign field.