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Airbnb Online Experiences Just Launched to Let You Meditate With Buddhist Monks, Make Tapas With a Portuguese Chef, and More

Kara Jillian Brown

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Photo: Getty Images / kate_sept2004

Nothing really replaces the novelty of travel. While virtual museum tours and beach walks are cute, they don’t come close to the real thing. The best part of traveling is the people you meet, and the experiences they share with you, and Airbnb’s new online experiences aims to give you a taste of just that.

Airbnb launched Online Experiences as a way for people to connect and enjoy new experiences without leaving their homes. You can take a virtual visit to Portugal and lean how to make Tapas; to Japan to meditate with a Japanese Buddhist Monk; or to Texas for happy hour and tarot card lesson.

“Human connection is at the core of what we do,” said Catherine Powell, head of Airbnb Experiences, in a press release. “With so many people needing to stay indoors to protect their health, we want to provide an opportunity for our hosts to connect with our global community of guests in the only way possible right now, online.”

Airbnb Experiences launched in 2016, connecting travelers with local people as a means to learn more deeply about a place. But since the program is suspended at least through the end of April, the virtual option allows hosts to continue earning an income without putting their health in danger.

Currently you’ve got more than 50 experiences to choose from. While some are just $2 per person, others are more in-depth with a price tag to match upward of $40. The online experiences are hosted on Zoom, meaning you can share an experience with those you live with, or virtually gather with friends to share an experience from your respective homes. With the Olympics are canceled, for example, you can tap your interests by learning what life is like for Olympic bob sledder Lauren Gibbs or hear from Xu Lijia about how it felt to win the gold medal for sailing in the 2012 Olympics.

To connect with the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to loneliness during these unusual circumstances, Airbnb has partnered with local organizations around the world, including SAGE, the National Council on Aging, Associazione Nazionale Alpini – Sezione di Milan, Amigos de los Mayores, to offer experiences free of charge.

“Millions of elders aren’t able to go outside and risk their health due to the current crisis, and need activities to help them stay connected to the world around them,” said Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, in a press release. “Through our partnership with Airbnb, SAGE is able to give older members of LGBT communities across the country an opportunity to not only meet other people, but also learn a new hobby and travel to nearly anywhere around the world, all from the safety of their home.”

With my Zoom happy hours starting to feel a bit stale, Airbnb Online Experiences couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

Staying connected is now more important than ever. While you’ll want to find safe ways to maintain family traditions, but don’t feel pressured to say yes to every Zoom happy hour invite.

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