Llama therapy and skateboarding in LA: Airbnb launches neurodiverse virtual activities

Announced ahead of World Autism Awareness Day, the new experiences are designed to make virtual travel accessible to all

In an effort to ensure travel is an inclusive experience, even when it comes to doing so virtually, Airbnb launched a series of online experiences catering for neurodiverse guests.

Hosts on the global accommodation platform have created the online sessions to ensure virtual travel is available to all.

Launched ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, Airbnb's neurodiverse activities include everything from hanging out with a bunch of therapy llamas in Portland, US to taking part in an interactive ryhthm workshop hosted live from Sydney.

“We are excited to offer online experiences designed by hosts with neurodiverse guests in mind. Our hope is these activities will help guests become more comfortable with a new activity or use them to connect with loved ones,” said Suzanne Edwards, Airbnb's head of hosting accessibility standards.

Neurodiversity refers to variations in the way brains function, process and learn information, and includes people with autism, dyslexia and attention deficit disorders, among others.

These virtual experiences can be booked by anyone, regardless of whether or not they are neurodiverse or neurotypical.

With 12 travel experiences in total, these virutal experiences are also a good way for friends and family to connect from afar during a time when real-life travel remains restricted. Several of the experiences are also geared towards social impact, with proceeds going to a non-profit organisation.

Here's five of the most interesting sessions you can book today...

1. Inclusive skateboarding in Los Angeles, US

Anyone with a basic knowledge of skateboarding who is looking to up their game might want to consider this $92 a person Airbnb session. Virtually travel to LA, one of the best-known cities for skateboarding in the world, and join the founder of The Skate Connection, a non-profit dedicated to promoting inclusion for people with disabilities through skateboarding. Sessions will guide particpants through skateboard maneuvers, with moves adapted to anyone with special needs. They'll also talk proper boarding etiquette, lingo and share tips on what to look for when getting a skateboard.

2. Street dance tips from the pros in Lancashire, UK

Geared towards those with a little bit of dancing experience rather than complete beginners, this session by DanceSyndrome sees trained professional dancers work alongside participants to coach people with and without learning disabilities in the art of street dance. Pick up some new grooves, go over technical details and see how the pros perform. Conducted via a Zoom session, you'll need to make sure you're wearing suitable stretchy clothing and have a bottle of water with you, as it's set to get sweaty.

3. A healing transformation meditation live from Sedona, US

Open to all, this guided and interactive meditation covers the following themes: clearing energy, abundance, grief, feeling energy, emotional clearing, letting go, allowing, and healing. It's a transformative workshop designed to help participants learn to listen to their inner desires, learn to use crystals and healing techniques. Gentler instructions and reduced noise will be incorporated for any neurodiverse guests and the sessions can also be tailored to focus on specific anxieties that accompany conditions such as autism or other neurological, emotional, or mental conditions.

4. Meet a herd of therapy llamas in Oregon, US

For Dh56 per person, you can get up close and personal with a herd of furry llamas and aplacas at Mountain Peaks in Portland, Oregon. Hosted by animal therapist Shannon, sessions include fun facts about the difference between llamas and aplacas, a herd meet and greet, and a question and answer session where you can ask the handlers any animal-related questions you desire.

5. Sing along with the Music Man, Southend-on-Sea, UK

This accessible music-making session is hosted by David Stanley, founder of the Music Man Project. For Dh51 per person, children and adults can make new friends and connect through music with David teaching from behind his piano. Beginning with easy-to-learn welcome songs, David will guide participants through a musical repertoire enjoyed by hundreds of people with learning-disabilities at Music Man Projects across the world. He will demonstrate all the signs, actions and dance moves needed as well as teaching guests to sing and play catchy and expressive songs.