Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Travel without leaving your home: five of Airbnb's best virtual experiences

Attend a tango concert in Argentina, meet the dogs of Chernobyl or go cycling with an Olympic gold medallist

Meet the dogs of Chernobyl with Airbnb's new virtual experiences. Courtesy Airbnb
Meet the dogs of Chernobyl with Airbnb's new virtual experiences. Courtesy Airbnb

If a lack of travel has got you down, Airbnb might have a solution. The accommodation-sharing platform has launched a series of online experiences as a way for people to explore new destinations via virtual immersion.

Described as a “new way for people to connect, travel virtually and earn income during the Covid-19 crisis", there are 50 experiences available to book on Airbnb and more expected to be added in the coming weeks.

Hosted via Zoom, travellers can take their pick from visiting a rescue goat farm in the Catskills of New York, getting on their bike with an Olympic gold medallist or getting to know the dogs living in Chernobyl, the site of the nuclear disaster in the former Ukrainian SSR.

Prices vary for each experience, starting from only Dh37. Depending on the activity, you can either sign up for one of the listed dates and times, or book to organise a session at a time of your choosing.

These experiences aim to go beyond typical sightseeing tours, and are a good way to bridge the gap between self-isolation and getting back into the world.

Meet the dogs of Chernobyl

Airbnb’s Meet the Dogs of Chernobyl experience takes you virtually to the scene of the Ukranian nuclear disaster, a place where people have not been allowed to live for over three decades but where many abadoned dogs still roam. Courtesy Airbnb
Airbnb’s Meet the Dogs of Chernobyl experience takes you virtually to the scene of the Ukrainian nuclear disaster. Courtesy Airbnb

In 1986, after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, many dogs were abandoned in the exclusion zone. Today, the descendants of these dogs face hard lives and a daily struggle to find food, water and shelter in this derelict site.

Airbnb’s virtual experience lets you meet and digitally feed some of these dogs. It also takes you virtually to the scene of the disaster at the Unit 4 reactor, a place where people have not been allowed to live for more than three decades, but where many four-legged friends still roam.

Hosted by Lucas Hixson, a radiation specialist, you will get the chance to ask questions about the dogs, the site and the Dogs of Chernobyl programme, which supports communities affected by the Ukrainian nuclear disaster. Tours last an hour and rates start from $52 (Dh191).

Meditate with a Japanese monk in Osaka

Host Kuniastu has been a Buddhist monk for almost 20 years and is an expert in Zen meditation. Having welcomed more than 4,000 Airbnb guests for in-person experiences, he is taking his skills online.

Book an hour's session to join Kuniastu virtually in the forests of Japan where you'll find out more about your host’s journey to becoming a monk and some theory behind the art of meditation. Next, let Kuniastu guide you through 20 minutes of chanting mantras designed to help deepen your mediation practice.

A 10-minute breathing out mediation will follow, and you'll be invited to ask any questions or share your thoughts with the Zen master. Sessions can also be tailored to include candle meditation, Qigong, Sutra copying and more. The experience costs from $10 (Dh37) per person.

Hang out with rescue goats in New York

Digitally get to know rescue goats in New York's Catskill Mountains. Courtesy Frederick Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary. 
Digitally get to know rescue goats in New York's Catskill Mountains. Courtesy Frederick Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary

Take a trip to the Catskill Mountains of New York where you can virtually visit the Frederick Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary. Get up close and personal with the five goats that live here and keep an eye out for the countless chickens and dogs, too.

Sessions start with an introduction to each animal and the host will explain each goat's rescue story. Watch as the animals tuck into some of their favourite treats, see the goats enjoy belly rubs and then try to guess which one is doing all the snoring as you watch them drift off to sleep. Perfect for families, this experience costs from $10 (Dh37) per person.

Attend a tango concert in Argentina

Get virtual front row seats at an intimate Argentine tango concert hosted by a Latin Grammy nominee. Courtesy Gotan Tours
Get virtual front-row seats at an intimate Argentine tango concert hosted by a Latin Grammy nominee. Courtesy Gotan Tours

Embrace the soul of Buenos Aires by attending a tango concert hosted by a Latin Grammy nominee. You'll have front-row seats for this intimate gig held in the musician's living room in La Boca, Buenos Aires, where Argentine tango originated.

Indulge in the soulful sounds and learn more about the evolution of the music over the years as you chat with hosts Kevin and Maria. Expect a walk through history, from the origins of the music in the 1890s to the thriving Buenos Aires tango scene of today.

Part house party, part history lesson, part live concert, you'll get to know the musicians and enjoy the buzz that comes from sharing live music together. Sessions cost from $10 (Dh37) per person and last around an hour.

Go cycling with an Olympic gold medallist

Get on your bike with two-time Olympic triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee to pick up tips, course strategies and find out more about the athlete's Olmypic journey. Courtesy IIOC / JOHN HUET 
Get on your bike with two-time Olympic triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee to pick up tips, course strategies and find out more about the athlete's Olympic journey. Courtesy IIOC

Exercising might be a no-go at the moment thanks to stay at home rules, but that doesn't mean you can't get on your bike at home.

Find inspiration by taking a ride with two-time British Olympic gold medallist Alistair Brownlee. Zoom into his home in the Yorkshire Dales where you'll do a warm-up ride together as you chat and get to know each other a little. Get set to work up a sweat as Brownlee combines interval training with virtual video stream and takes you on a 40-minute virtual two-wheel tour across London, Rio, Leeds and Kailua-Kona in Hawaii.

For aspiring athletes, the Olympian will share some of his top cycling tips and course strategies. End the session with a look at his gold medals and the chance to ask him any questions about sport, cycling or his journey as an Olympian. Sessions cost from $65 (Dh238), with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to the Brownlee Foundation, a UK charity committed to giving children positive sporting experiences.

Updated: April 14, 2020 11:21 AM

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