The Website I’ve Been Using to Travel the World

A view of Giza on WindowSwap, used with permission.

Back in July, a website called Window Swap started making the rounds on social media and in news outlets. The premise is perfect in its simplicity: click a button and get a view from someone else’s window, somewhere in the world. Audio on for best results. Rinse and repeat.

Two months later, I’m still checking in on it periodically, and it never fails to refresh my day. A recent tour included visions of sailboats off Sifnos Island, Greece; a scooter zipping through the rain in Hyderabad, India; and a palm tree and high rises partially obscuring the view of a snow-capped mountain range in Ñuñoa, Chile.

And then there are moments of pure magic, where you think, How on earth does someone get to live there? I was stunned by a view from a window in Giza, Egypt: white shutters in the foreground, low-rise apartments in the middle ground, and — yes — the famous pyramids in the background. To remind you that this is indeed just a quotidian experience for someone, you hear the sounds of honking cars from the street below the window. It’s a wonder of the world, but it’s also somebody’s home, with all the mundanities that entails.

The conceit feels like a fulfillment of the original promise of the internet: instant connection with people from around the world, pure fun, no ads. In a digital world filled with noise, the dull sounds of traffic or wind outside other people’s windows feel breathtakingly transporting.

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Sarah Begley

Sarah Begley

Director at Medium working with authors and books. Formerly a staff writer and editor at Time.