Being at home can get a little mundane. After you plant a windowsill garden, breeze through that Netflix queue, and take a virtual art museum tour, you may be longing for a bit of human interaction while anticipating that next trip. No matter your reason for staying home, there is a way to scratch the proverbial travel itch from the comfort of your quarters. Taking advantage of Airbnb’s new Online Experiences can be just the ticket—and an inexpensive one at that.
With an ever-growing list of online sessions, the most challenging part is making a choice. Once you settle in on a favorite, follow through with picking an available date and time. Both the host and Airbnb will follow up with detailed instructions and a link to join in the meetup. Download Zoom and click your class link about 5 minutes before its start time. Your host will begin, and after a round of greetings, everyone will settle into a time of learning, touring, or cooking.
At a fraction of the cost of real-life travel, you can familiarize yourself with a country or learn a new skill from the comfort of your living room. It’s a small price to pay for the camaraderie you feel with the host and other participants from around the globe, or you can get a group of virtual friends together for a session. Either way, it’s a new take on a personalized, cultural encounter. Here are our picks for the best—and most interesting—experiences worldwide.
Lessons from Apartheid (Cape Town, South Africa)
Part of a country’s legacy is knowing about its past, and awareness is precisely what this apartheid familiarization experience offers. Led by a local who grew up during this dark period in history, session-goers will tour the highlights of Cape Town while learning about the area. Discussions occur on subjects such as gentrification, segregation, and discrimination. Although these topics are substantial, the host focuses on moving forward and urging the human spirit to rise above despite difficult circumstances.
Make Pasta and Listen to Live Opera (Florence, Italy)
Italy is known for both pasta and opera, and participants can virtually visit the Italian countryside to experience the two together. Ditch the pasta machine, and learn how to make a traditional pasta from scratch from a mother-daughter team. As a bonus, the duo will divulge their sauce recipe so that the pasta doesn’t have to go solo. Musical surprises accompany the culinary aspect throughout the two hours you’ll spend near Florence.
Take a Coffee Masterclass with an Expert (Mexico City)
For the price of a fancy cup of coffee, you can become a coffee connoisseur in an hour in this class led by a Mexican coffee judge and coffee shop owner. Those who choose this experience will learn how to brew the perfect cup of coffee while highlighting the flavor profiles of the bean. Your expert host will discuss mindfulness and connectivity as participants converse with coffee lovers around the globe.
Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens (Lisbon, Portugal)
Head to the kitchen and make the most delicious sangria—Portuguese style! Not only will you learn how to create a new cocktail step-by-step, but participants will view a short burlesque-style show with few surprises along the way. The drink is just as colorful and full of flavor as the drag queens that lead the session, and they open it up for questions—about sangria, Lisbon, or the life of a queen—at the end.
Secrets of Hollywood Sound Effects (Los Angeles)
Many of the sounds heard in movies are added post-production, so that crackling fire you hear could be anything but an actual flame. Head to Hollywood to explore the making of sound effects and to discover the strange objects used to mimic real-life noises, such as breaking celery for a bone crack! Attendees will determine how to layer effects that will be recorded live and set to a mini-movie during this session.
Meditation with a Japanese Buddhist Monk (Osaka, Japan)
We all need a stress-release now and then, and meditating with a Buddhist monk is sure to send anyone into a relaxing mental state. Hear about the host’s journey to becoming a monk, followed by two types of meditation techniques, which involve chanting and focusing on breathing skills. Not only is this experience relaxing, but it will instill Japanese principles to use in the future when you are feeling a bit stressed.
Zoom Around Paris on a Panoramic Tour (Paris)
Those craving a bit of romance can head to Paris for a personalized tour of the city. The first half of the session consists of a 360-degree view tour peppered with insights and history. The remainder of the time consists of participant-requested highlights. From the Eiffel Tower to a few quirky neighborhoods, experience what this popular tourist destination is like from a local’s point of view.
Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague (Czech Republic)
The Black Death was rampant during the 17th and 18th centuries in Prague, and you can encounter the setting through the eyes of a doctor who fought the plague in 1713. Those who choose this session will visit historic sites, such as Charles Bridge and the Jewish Quarter, while learning about protective garb worn during the pandemic. This experience is one part history and one part tour, all led by an unsung medical hero.
Meet the Dogs of Chernobyl (Pripyat, Ukraine)
Animal lovers will thoroughly enjoy meeting the descendants of dogs that were abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Part of this session includes feeding the canines alongside their caretaker, and afterward, you'll get to explore the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant—a site that few travelers ever get to see, virtually or otherwise! As a feel-good part of this tour, it is led by the organization Dogs of Chernobyl, who helps care for and feed the dogs, so your fee goes towards funding projects for the pups you’ll meet.
Make Swedish Pastries with a Pro Baker (Stockholm)
Feel as though you’ve been transported to a Swedish kitchen for an hour and a half to make traditional buns spiced with cinnamon and cardamom. Bake alongside new friends from around the globe as you spend time kneading and learning about Swedish traditions. The pastries are easy to make as the host checks to ensure that everyone prepares the dough adequately to guarantee delicious results!
Get Camera-Ready with a K-Beauty Class (Yongsan-gu, South Korea)
It’s no surprise that ladies all over the world look to Korean women for their beauty secrets, and you can uncover a few tricks of the trade from a TV host. Not only will you learn essential Korean skincare, but members receive a personal consultation about a natural makeup look that will enhance their natural beauty. During the session, participants are also encouraged to share their beauty tips, so you never know what you’ll learn.