Recreate Travel Experiences at Home With Airbnb’s New Online Platform

Now you can learn how to make pasta like an Italian nonna, meditate with sheep in Scotland, and more with the new Airbnb Online Experiences.

Recreate Travel Experiences at Home With Airbnb’s New Online Platform

Can’t go outside? You can meditate with sleepy Scottish sheep virtually through Airbnb’s new online experiences platform.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Starting Thursday, April 9, Airbnb is launching Online Experiences, moving many of its in-person classes online so that people in quarantine across the world can “travel from home” and connect with the world outside their doors—and Airbnb hosts can earn an income while staying safe.

You can now book more than 50 Airbnb Online Experiences with hosts in over 30 countries for anywhere between $1 and $40. For example, you can meditate with Buddhist monks in Japan, learn how to make pasta like an Italian nonna in Rome, or even take a virtual tour of Chernobyl. Airbnb says “thousands more” will launch in the coming weeks.

“Human connection is at the core of what we do,” Catherine Powell, head of Airbnb Experiences, said in a statement. “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.”

All classes will be hosted through the video chat program Zoom, which you can download for free to your computer or your phone on both iOS and Android platforms. Airbnb is providing hosts with free Zoom Business accounts to launch these experiences. (Because Zoom’s security has been called into question recently, follow these privacy tips from Fast Company to keep your video chats secure.)

Groups of friends and colleagues will be able to reserve a private class and organize specific dates to accommodate their schedules. To help isolated seniors, Airbnb has also partnered with local organizations like SAGE and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) in the United States, as well as the Associazione Nazionale Alpini - Sezione di Milano in Italy and Amigos de los Mayores in Spain to curate experiences that will be offered free of charge so they can learn new skills while protecting their health.

“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, the CEO of SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people. “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.”

What it’s like to take an Airbnb Online Experience

Earlier this week, I was able to get a sneak peek of the online version of the Sonoma Ricotta Cheese Making class, taught by Juli Lederhaus, a retired chef based in California wine country.

Typically, she teaches cooking classes in person at her home for small groups visiting Sonoma. But the 90-minute cheese class translates via Zoom rather well with her charming husband Walt adjusting the webcam angles as she teaches. It turns out that making ricotta is way easier than you’d think. (It only uses three ingredients—milk, vinegar, and salt—that you probably already have in your house.)

After making the cheese, Lederhaus walked our class through several recipes to put the fresh ricotta to use, including a rustic French-style tartine and a cacio e pepe pasta dish. At the end of the class, everyone sat down at their own kitchen tables with their food to chat and connect. Our host even taught us a little about which wines would pair well with our ricotta dishes (she prefers a Sonoma chardonnay from Buena Vista winery).

Register Now: Sonoma Ricotta Cheese Making Class, $10/person,

Airbnb’s Grandma’s Pasta class in Rome is now available to take online.

Airbnb’s Grandma’s Pasta class in Rome is now available to take online.

Courtesy of Airbnb

How these are different from other virtual classes

Because Airbnb Online Experiences are hosted live over a Zoom video call, Lederhaus was able to interact with me and the four other students in the class in real time, unlike in prerecorded digital classes or livestreams hosted via Instagram or Facebook. (Airbnb will cap most classes at 10 people so it doesn’t become a free-for-all.)

This is especially important for online cooking classes because the two-way video makes it easy for the teacher to check in with students to watch what they’re doing and fix any errors or mistakes made along the way. If you’re a visual learner or someone who struggles with recipes from cookbooks, you’ll find that this format offers a casual setting where it’s easy to get instant feedback if you’re unsure of anything as you follow along.

Other Airbnb Online Experiences you can book now

Curious to find other ways to travel from home via these online experiences? Here are a few highlights of classes and workshops that can be booked at right now.

Food and drink

Dance and sports


Art and design


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>> Next: Airbnb Offers Free and Subsidized Housing to Coronavirus Healthcare Workers

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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