Story tours to complement airbnb experiences

Hi I am an avid airbnb traveller and host! I’m also a crazy planner when it comes to traveling :slight_smile:

When I browse through the collection of experiences available in a city, often they don’t fit my schedule or the uniqueness factor goes away after a few pages of searching.

But since I really enjoy going on the tours anyway because the people taking me around have amazing personalities and story, I’ve been thinking of ways to find more. I guess it’s similar to reading an autobiography but live and as a tour.

A few examples I could think of that I’d love to tour, at least in SF are: a story of a homeless person and their day through SF and in NYC: a story of a 9/11 survivor and their journey that day.

Does anyone have any recommendations? I know that the Detour app offers something similar, but I wanted something with more personality.

Otherwise, is anyone interested in this? Would love to compile something so that others that are interested can experience it too.

To be honest I think it’s rather ghoulish to want to walk around in the shoes of a homeless person or a 9/11 survivor. They are not tourist attractions.

If you want to know about the experiences of someone who is homeless; volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen.

There is a memorial and museum at the 9/11 site if you want to understand the experiences of those who were there.


I take @Helsi’s point but I don’t really think it’s necessarily any more ghoulish than visiting Oswiecym (Auschwitz) on a visit to Poland or Robbin Island (Mandela’s prison) in Cape Town, both of which I have done. They are quite immersive tours and use personal experience as part of the tour.

Don’t have any reccomendations though …

As long as these tours are for people that are genuinely interested in the stories and it’s not about sensationalism, I think these are excellent ideas. And the other thing, the main benefit should be for the people telling the stories.

I have never paid for tours but in my travels:

  • I have talked to a Shining Path terrorist.
  • I have talked to a Nicaraguan who had made the journey to the USA. He had to leave one of his fellow travelers behind in the desert to die.
  • I have visited people living in a dumpster.
  • I have visited orphans in an orphans home.
    … And lots of other interesting stories and experiences.

All these people came along my path and I’m very thankful they shared their stories with me, because there’s nothing as eye opening as a first hand story. If these people had organized a tour around their stories, I would have been glad to pay for it, and I really don’t think there’s anything ghoulish about it.

Hi @Malagachica as I mentioned in my initial response I don’t see any issue with people visiting memorials, museums or similar where people have an opportunity to be educated on an injustice/holocaust/tragedy , which is why I mentioned the 9/11 memorial as being more appropriate.

What I felt uncomfortable with is someone getting a buzz from ‘experiencing a homeless person and their day’ which from talking to the homeless people I work with is likely to involve being insulted and abused, being frightened, perhaps arrested, being cold, not having enough food to eat and falling into a stupor through drugs/alcohol.


Having personally experienced 911 I find this exploitative and extremely distasteful. Some things should not be commercialized for profit. Dump these thoughts please.


I couldn’t agree more. I was involved in the London 7/7 bombings, both personally as I travelled into work, and then professionally in the immediate aftermath. I too find the thought ghoulish. The memories and experiences are too recent, not history.


Totally. Can’t you find better Experiences in New York than what you are seeking? Visit museums or memorials, by all means… but paying a fee to be walking around with a 911 survivor? That’s just weird and exploitive.

I’m sorry @konacoconutz, but we are talking about someone who wants to share his/her story and along the way create some extra income, there’s nothing exploitive about it. It could very well even help certain persons to cope with what happened to them.
When I was 18yo we had a lady come to our class to tell about all the atrocities that happened to her in a concentration camp in the second world war. She wasn’t being exploited, she wasn’t exploiting history, she was just sharing her story, and she had every right to do so.

I do admit, in those things it’s often a fine line between authenticity and bad taste.

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But did she accept payment for doing so? I guess that is where the line is drawn for me.

Just thinking out loud too… would Airbnb approve such a thing? Seems doubtful. They want things like bar hopping or cooking on the lower east side or art walks in soho. :blush:

I don’t know, I’m sure she got her costs paid. She was a retired lady, I don’t know if she really got extra’s for it.

My question: Do we have to draw the line for other people?
If someone has been affected so seriously by a certain event, and they feel the only way forward is sharing their story and they also need an income?
On the other side we have tourists who only saw it happen on their little TV screen, but who want to learn more, tourists that are genuinely interested …

Do we also think Malala Yousafzai is distasteful because she is using what happened to her for leverage to improve her own and other people’s lives?

Personally I would not know why not.

Well Malala is a whole different universe than a guy walking around giving his experience of 911 for money. Maybe there is such a tour, anyone care to research it?

And a lady who was given a chance to tell kids of the Holocaust getting her travel expenses paid is not exactly the equivalent.

Which brings up the question… are there Airbnb Experiences running right now at the camps by concentration camp survivors? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem like something Air would approve. Anyone care to look?

Here in Hawaii a lot of people are losing their homes to a horrendous lava flow. There are those out there who would exploit their tragedy. Lookie loos would pay a fortune to see a house burn to the ground from a lava flow. It’s ghoulish. What if that was your precious place going under while everyone stood around and gawked and a tour guide was getting paid mightily for it.

There are others such as pilots or boat operators who refuse to show the lost homes out of respect for homeowners’ grief and tragedy.

It’s actually an interesting question, and I’m glad we can discuss differing viewpoints respectfully.


Hey @Helsi I think there are different types of people that want to experience things in different ways. For example, not everyone will be able to work in a shelter. However, I believe everyone should know the pains a homeless person goes through in SF. It’s a huge problem here.

If we can all relate better, then maybe these problems can get fixed.

Similarly for the 9/11 site - it’s similar to a museum, except instead of staring at pictures, you’re hearing a story. 9/11 happened over a decade ago, and an entire generation has been born. When I visited Cambodia, I learned through the stories of a survivor and it really opened my eyes to what happened there. But, I wasn’t part of that generation.


@GutHend hey! These conversations are EXACTLY what I want to hear. It’s not common and I’m just looking for a single place to listen to all of them.

@Helsi I guess what I was referring to by “experiencing” is more like, “hey be aware this is how life is, please consider fixing the process so that we don’t have to walk half way around town to just get a bed.”

@Maggieroni the angle I was thinking was more along the lines of what you’d get if you went to a memorial. Is that also bad?

Hey @konacoconutz, really appreciate your thoughtfulness here.

From reading everyone’s comments, there’s a fine line between commercializing these concepts and allowing users to share their stories.

Airbnb experiences currently don’t really offer the stories and I had a hard time finding them myself. The types of content that you’d get exploring the memorials and museums are so powerful and should be shared more broadly.

I’m not sure if Airbnb would approve such a thing since it’s a level deeper than the current experiences go, but I’d love to see something that takes the experiences to a new depth.

The angle I’m thinking here is what is Your angle! You just joined this forum. Just knock it off, your idea is not an idea it’s an exploitation. We lost so many brave firefighters (my family) and I’ve had enough of this discussion and out of respect I hope others have too.


Hey @Maggieroni thanks for sharing your opinion. I’d just really like to understand why you think it’s exploitation. Are you also saying that memorials that share these stories should not be doing so?