The “catch flights not feelings” crew is struggling right now. Many travelers, including myself, canceled their 2020 travel plans when coronavirus hit. Thankfully, Airbnb quickly released their online experiences to keep the travel spark alive. I’ve participated in a handful of these experiences so far. In this post, I review the Airbnb online travel experiences I’ve participated in and share if I think they’re worth the money.
Please note that some affiliate links are included on this page. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission whenever you purchase through the link.
Should I Support Airbnb?
2020 was supposed to be Airbnb’s year. For example, Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, planned to take the company public this year. It was the financial talk of the year.
Then COVID-19 hit. In a matter of days, millions of Airbnb bookings were canceled. Guests demanded refunds due to the circumstances (a pandemic). Airbnb conceded to these demands without discussing it with the hosts, whom the company said were their business partners.
Partners discuss business-altering matters with each other. Airbnb hosts were not treated as a partner should be treated.
Understandably, hosts felt abandoned. Many of them lost their main source of income and scoured for other ideas.
To be honest, I’m not surprised by any of this. Airbnb has caused issues since it became mainstream.
I have empathy for the thousands of hosts struggling because I never want anyone to struggle. But, the pandemic is amplifying the company’s deeper issues that have been around for years.
I’ve previously written about Airbnb’s lack of sustainability policy. They’ve caused rental rate spikes to the point apartments are no longer affordable for locals. They’ve also allowed, due to a lack of clear policy, hosts to make racist decisions. There are numerous other business “sins.”
At its inception, Airbnb was intended to give hosts a bit of extra income for renting out a spare room and offer guests affordable accommodations with locals around the world.
Instead, investors have turned Airbnb into a luxury stay search.
My hope for Airbnb in the post-pandemic world is that it either returns to its roots, or aggressively pursues sustainable policies for the guests, hosts, locals, and environment.
So, should you support Airbnb? In my previous Airbnb post, I said no with some conditions. That answer remains true today.
It’s evident Airbnb is pivoting, as are all other travel companies, and the way in which they’ve done this with online experiences also benefits small travel businesses. It’s giving them a financial lifeline. That’s a sustainable policy I can support.
(Remember: Sustainability does not only mean ‘eco-friendly’)
Personally, I’ll participate in Airbnb online travel experiences until Airbnb gives me a reason not to, or until we can all travel again.
How to Book An Airbnb Online Travel Experience
It’s easy to book an Airbnb online travel experience.
Click here to book!
On the home page, click the tab that says ‘online experiences.’
You’ll be brought to the Airbnb online travel experiences page, with all the experiences organized by theme. They have sections for the newest online experiences to the Airbnb platform, the best history lessons, and others.
There are Airbnb online travel experiences for just about every hobby!
Meditations, yoga, workouts, city tours, history lessons, cooking lessons, DIY tutorials, farm tours, basics of beekeeping, and so much more!
If you continue scrolling to the bottom of the page, you can view every single online experience available. I highly recommend doing this so you can see all the options! You might be surprised by what interests you.
Once you click on an online experience, you can read the experience’s description, learn more about the host, read reviews, and look at the available dates.
All communication between the hosts and guests is through the Airbnb messaging platform. Booking is also strictly done through the platform. You will not and should not pay your host outside the platform ever.
As long as your Airbnb profile is updated, the “tour” times shown should be in your timezone. However, double-check this before booking.
You can sign up for text reminders before your Airbnb online travel experience starts. I highly recommend this! While we’re stuck at home, it’s easy to lose track of the day and time. Don’t lose out on your money!
All you need for your Airbnb online travel experience is a computer and stable laptop connection. Many hosts are flexible with rescheduling their guests into another tour if they’re experiencing internet issues. But, it’s best to avoid this and prepare ahead of time.
Click here to book!
Lessons from Apartheid with Richard
I looked forward to this Airbnb online travel experience the most, but was sadly left feeling indifferent.
The three reasons why are because 1) I expected more personal storytelling and 2) thought there’d be more interaction.
Every host runs their experience differently. This is true if the experience is in-person or online. Online experiences, however, require a bit more effort to ensure guests stay engaged and interested.
Richard talked through a basic slideshow for the full 90 minutes. He shared the history of South Africa, even hundreds of years before apartheid. This makes sense because what had happened in the past led up to the fierce systemic racism that was in South Africa’s apartheid society.
But, the presentation was basically a lot of facts, names, and dates. It felt as if I were sitting in a college lecture hall when I was supposed to be on summer vacation.
Don’t get me wrong–the information was valuable and I learned a lot. But I also know myself as a learner and I don’t enjoy his style of teaching. Sometimes it’s just that way and no fault to either of us!
If he had included more storytelling, which I thought was what the Airbnb online travel experience was supposed to be, I would’ve enjoyed it more.
Second, I thought there’d be more interaction. Richard was warm and welcoming to questions throughout the presentation, but otherwise, he talked at us for the 90 minutes. Again, not my learning style.
I found myself easily distracted and on my phone a lot. It’s easy to reach for your phone when you can turn off your camera and not face the social judgement of not paying complete attention to the speaker.
Overall, I think this Airbnb online travel experience is valuable. However, we’re all feeling a little Zoom-ed out. If you are already struggling to stay engaged in a Zoom meeting, then this might not be the best experience for you.
Most importantly, know what you want out of an Airbnb online travel experience and ensure the one you sign up for meets those expectations before even hitting book! I give advice on how to do this in the “How to Choose” section below.
Length: 60 minutes (our tour went on for 90 minutes)
Click here to book.
Meet A Real-Life Shark Scientist with Justin
I had the lowest expectations for this Airbnb online travel experience because I had no idea how an animal encounter could be conducted virtually. Yet, I was intrigued and signed up. What can I say? Sharks are awesome!
This was by far my favorite Airbnb online travel experience!
Justin is a very engaging speaker, but he also made an engaging presentation. I didn’t pick up my phone once!
He showed us a slideshow with photos and videos, rather than slides filled with words. Justin would show us a photo or video and describe what was happening. He’d ask us questions throughout the presentation and worked hard to keep us interested.
Personally, I loved that he interacted with us before starting his presentation to get to know our personal experiences with sharks.
I told him I’ve seen sharks while scuba diving, but my mother was terrified of sharks. Throughout the presentation, we would reference specific facts about sharks that might help her be less scared!
Justin helped me realize how intelligent sharks really are, how to think like a shark (curiosity and caution), and why sharks are disappearing around the world. He also shared his opinions on ethical shark tourism (ex. baiting or petting sharks).
Since Justin works for a nonprofit, 100% of the experience cost goes towards the work of the nonprofit–shark research and conservation. That’s something to feel good about!
These online experiences give hosts the opportunity to earn extra income while the travel industry is suffering, and also promote their in-person tours for when it’s safe to travel again. Justin succeeded! I’d love to visit his nonprofit in South Africa one day.
I highly recommend this Airbnb online travel experience to every ocean enthusiast, animal rights activist, or sustainability advocate. It was so interesting!
Length: 90 minutes
Click here to book.
Follow A Plague Doctor Through Prague with David
This Airbnb online travel experience was a no-brainer for me. We’re living through a pandemic, so why not learn how people previously lived through a pandemic?
I also visited Prague six years prior, so I wanted to know if the Airbnb online travel experiences were valuable and fun for destinations a traveler has already been to.
The answer? Heck yes!
David, the host of this experience, hired a professional video team to record him walking through Prague at night in his plague doctor costume.
He recorded the video during quarantine, so the Prague streets were practically empty! It was cool to see the empty streets because it felt more realistic to the time period. Plus, Prague’s streets are never empty. I loved having this exclusive look at Prague!
The experience felt similar to an interactive movie. David showed the movie of him walking through Prague and described in real-time the history of Prague and of the bubonic plague in Prague. Occasionally he’d pause the video to give us more information or answer our questions.
While it might sound boring to watch a video and listen to someone speak for 90 minutes, this experience was the exact opposite of boring. It was exciting for me to revisit Prague and remember the places I had been to. David’s also an excellent orator.
Ever since my horrible bus tour in London, I’ve been sensitive to private citizens sharing historical information. Most of the time, the information they share is false.
While I can’t confirm whether the information David shared was true or not, he obviously conducted extensive research on the plague in Prague. He cited some sources throughout the presentation, which any historian would do for credibility. David earned my trust!
Prague isn’t exactly a dream destination for me, nor was it such an amazing experience six years ago that I’m desperate to return. However, this Airbnb online travel experience was a satisfying treatment for my wanderlust while stuck at home.
If I visit Prague again, I would take the live tour with David or one of his other tours.
Length: 90 minutes
Click here to navigate to book.
How to Choose An Airbnb Online Travel Experience
Click here to navigate to Airbnb’s website.
- Determine what you want to do or learn. Do you want to cook something new? Learn a new skill? Whatever you want to do, there’s probably an Airbnb online travel experience for you!
- Explore some or all of the Airbnb online travel experiences. There are hundreds of experiences available, and the number increases daily. Explore the experiences by theme (ex. food + drink) if applicable to what you want to do. Otherwise, you can search for key terms (ex. workout). Feel free to view all the Airbnb online travel experiences and explore that way, too!
- Read the experience’s description and the host’s introduction. Try to get a sense of what you’ll do, how the experience will be formatted (slideshow, videos, live training, etc.), and what the host’s personality is like. If you know you’ll only survive a 90-minute Zoom call with a certain format, go ahead and message the host and ask how they run the experience.
- Read the experience’s reviews. You’re not necessarily reading the reviews to learn what’s bad about the experience. Many guests will share the emotions they had about the experience (ex. fascinating, inspiring, informative). These will help you determine if the experience invokes the feelings you want to feel!
- Book an Airbnb online travel experience that most interests you!
Spend more time than you think you should on step #4 because this specific step will most ensure you’re getting what you expect for your investment!
If I had read the reviews for the apartheid experience, I would’ve understood this experience did not meet how I wanted to feel during the experience–wanderlust, inspired, and excited to travel again.
The apartheid experience was a great history lesson, but a history lesson wasn’t the only thing I was looking for. Reading the reviews would’ve helped me realize this.
Click here to navigate to their website.
How Much Do Airbnb Online Travel Experiences Cost?
Some experiences are free and some are pricier (above $50). However, most of the experiences cost somewhere between $10-25.
Most of the experiences are 90 minutes long. They range from 60-120 minutes in length.
It’s important to note that this cost is per electronic screen. If your entire family wants to participate in an Airbnb online travel experience, and you’re all sharing one screen, then you only have to pay once! This makes these experiences a fantastic budget weekend activity for the family.
Click here to explore more experiences.
Should You Book An Airbnb Online Travel Experience?
They offer incredible value for a low cost and can satisfy your travel bug while you stay safe at home.
Travel in 2020 is basically screwed. It’s time for us travelers to start making alternative travel plans. An Airbnb online travel experience should be one part of your plan.
Click here to book an Airbnb experience!
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