Want to explore the world but don’t have the time or the money? Here is the answer: virtual travel. This is how we have been traveling during Covid-19. We have used Airbnb before for glamping, beach condos and visiting our son at college, but now we are taking travel to a whole new level.
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What are virtual vacations?
Many people in the tourism industry worldwide have been suffering economically since Covid-19. Airbnb overs virtual classes and tours so you can feel like you are on a virtual vacation. People who usually lead tours through world cities are now leading their tours on line. Many petitioned their governments to allow them to film footage during the quarantine, meaning there are no people blocking sights during the virtual tours.
Others that run restaurants or bars are offering on line classes where you can learn cooking or bartending skills. In addition you can take fitness classes such as workouts with an Olympian or belly dancing. Airbnb offers virtual field trips for kids as well. One even features Bill Nye the Science Guy.
How to plan a virtual vacation
These opportunities are easy to book. You just need an Airbnb account and technology equipped with camera and microphone with Internet capability. Experiences run on the Zoom platform. Fees range from $5-around $65 depending on experience. Usually you pay per guest but some charge one fee per device being used. Each host sets their own parameters. Classes are usually between 1-2 hours long. Each host will list class availability dates and times. Each host will let you know what you need ahead of time to have the best virtual vacation.
What are virtual vacations online like?
The best advantage of these virtual travel experiences is the interaction. My husband and I love watching Rick Steve’s Europe and often re-watch old episodes. However, we can’t ask questions. With these Airbnb experiences the hosts encourage active participation. They sometimes give brief quizzes, ask questions, and encourage opinions. They want you to ask questions because they want you to learn about their subject.
The amount of people in the group varies. During some experiences you might be part of a group of about 6-10 people which is interesting in itself, as you get to interact with not only the host but others from around the world. Other times we have had the occasion where it was just us and the host. At these times we have been able to have a more personal experience and really connect with someone living in a totally different part of the world, as well as get to know about their lives and culture.
Many of these hosts we now follow on Facebook or Instagram to find out their latest news. The hosts also encourage follow up questions and interaction. We have contacted hosts later when we have thought of additional questions or advice. Many hosts have offered to give advice on things to do and places to stay if you actually go to their country.
Here is a list of experiences we have gone on along with links to my full articles about these virtual vacations. The full articles contain links to the experiences themselves.
Virtual Travel: Cultural Experiences
- Forest Bathing in Kyoto’s Sacred Mountain– Here you will explore the famed Fushimi Inari Shrine and learn about Shinto rituals and forest bathing. If you want to travel to Kyoto in person check Get your Guide for sponsored travel info.
- A Kenyan Cultural Experience– You will learn about the people and their culture, history, and even some Swahili with Samson, your guide. If you want to travel in person to Nairobi you can get sponsored travel info through Get Your Guide.
- Fly Like a Dragon in the Dragon Village– This was our second experience with Lee. He used drone technology during this tour for amazing views of forest and sea. Lee recounts history of dragons in Japanese culture in this experience. In addition Lee shows us his latest project where he is restoring an old farm house and starting an organic farm with his friend Shu.
- Irish Tales– If you are Irish or you are Irish at least on St. Patrick’s Day, you will enjoy exploring parts of Ireland while hearing tall tales as well as those that sound far fetched but are rooted in truth.
Virtual Travel with Drinks
Here are some things you might need to get your mixology hobby started:
- An Irishman’s Guide to Irish Whiskey– Learn about “The Water of Life”, history, tasting, and culture from home. Don’t forget to bring along some Irish whiskey for your own tasting. If you contact John prior to your adventure he will make some recommendations.
- A Brief History of Wine in South Africa– Have a vacation day in South Africa. Grab some South African wine and sip while exploring the popular wine regions of South Africa such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek with Manny. To read more about our virtual tour.
- Make Limoncello with Rosa – This was so exciting! We actually got to make our own limoncello. Rosa let us know ahead of time what ingredients and equipment we needed so we were ready to go when our event started. We liked it so much that we made it again, twice. We even shared with some neighbors and relatives. Rosa even taught us what to do with the leftover lemon rind.
- Rum the World with Ray– Explore the history of rum with Ray as he transports you to the Caribbean. Make sure to get your list of supplies before hand so you can make these traditional rum drinks and not just view them.
Virtual Travel: Tours of the Past
- Jack the Ripper-East London in 1888– Jaime will take you back in time to journey through the grotesque actions of Jack the Ripper.
- Dark Tales of Medieval Dubrovnik– Join Marja for historic tales of love and intrigue in the Republic of Ragusa, now Dubrovnik.
- Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague– Take a trip back in time to Prague during the Black Death, aka the Bubonic Plague. Tour the city through footage shot during the current pandemic as you are guided by a plague doctor.
We hope you take the opportunity to try out some of these virtual tours during times when actual travel is limited or if you prefer seeing the world from your couch. Bon Voyage!
Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.