October 8th, 2018
5 Benefits of Booking a Homestay (and How to Do It)
House sitting has helped me live rent-free in countries all around the world, but this unique travel style also comes with responsibilities. Though the free price tag can’t be beat, I pay in the form of caring for pets and committing to staying in one location for a set period of time—and these tasks don’t always align with everyone’s idea of a perfect vacation.
In contrast, a homestay offers the optimum blend of an immersive travel experience and travel freedom—pretty appealing for adventure travelers looking to shake up their travel routine. Curious about why—and how—to book a homestay? Here’s what I’ve learned in my homestay experiences.
Meet Local People
One of the joys of travel is connecting with people from other cultures. When you’re a guest at a homestay, you’ll not only meet the hosts and their families, but also their friends and neighbors. This will increase your own social circles and foster the chance to form new friendships.
Experience Foreign Family Culture
Immersing yourself in the local culture of the destinations you visit is a great way to see beyond the guidebook recommendations and must-see attractions. When staying with your host family you may find you have the opportunity to accompany them to local clubs and societies, as well as social events like parties and festivals.
Enjoy the Comforts of Home
The most appealing aspect of a homestay for some is the fact that you can enjoy time in a warm, homely environment when visiting an unfamiliar location. Knowing that you have base fully equipped with the little luxuries you’re used to, and a host on hand to share local insight, can make a difference to your vacation experience.
Save Money on Accommodation
Traditionally, homestays are more affordable than checking into a hotel, and they also offer better value for money. Homestays offer the added value of cultural immersion, and social and educational opportunities.
Homestay tip: Maximize your luggage space with the help of a set of sturdy packing cubes which not only help to organize your belongings but act as a great way to separate dirty laundry from clean at the end of your trip.
Practice a Foreign Language
For anyone with the desire to improve foreign language skills, a homestay is the perfect place to practice. There’s nothing that helps you build your language skills and confidence than surrounding yourself with people who speak the language you’re learning. You’ll find your confidence and vocabulary increases much faster than in the classroom.
Homestay tip: Keep a language dictionary and a notepad tucked away in a waist pack when you’re out and about at the destination. This will enable you to check vocab and note down new words when you’re interacting with local people.
How to Book a Homestay
Booking a homestay is much like finding a house to sit or choosing a hotel. There are a number of online platforms that will connect you with hosts all over the world, however it is your responsibility to ensure that the experience you choose is best suited to your travel style and expectations.
Choose a Reputable Company
Start by perusing the listings on reputable homestay websites like Airbnb and Homestay.com. You can also contact local tourism authorities to inquire as to whether they have any on record that they could recommend.
Thoroughly Read Host Listings
Each host creates a listing detailing what style of accommodation they are able to offer their guests, take the time to read through this information and make sure it aligns with your expectations. Every home is different and each host has something unique to offer.
All online platforms offer a review system for hosts to help travelers determine whether a homestay will suit their trip. Don’t be tempted to take a listing at face value, read through a selection of recent reviews to hear first-hand experiences from other guests who have stayed with that host.
Research the Locale
Before making your selection, it’s important to research the location of the homestay. Check the property is close to the attractions or points of interest you’re planning to visit during your stay, and ensure the locale suits your preferred travel style. This is especially important if you don’t plan to have a car, as you may need to budget for public transportation options or taxi charges.
Homestay tip: If you’re planning to use public transport during your stay consider choosing a foldable, rolling duffel as your main piece of luggage. Not only will it flatten to store underneath a bed when you’re at the homestay, you can also use it to carry groceries home from the store on the bus if required.
Once you’ve read the listing, read traveler reviews, and researched the locale, you should then reach out to the host to discuss your travel plans. Share with them the reasons for your visit and ask for their advice regarding planning your itinerary for your stay.
Through this interaction with the host you will start to glean more insight into what staying with them would be like; this can be helpful when trying to decide which host to book with. Don’t worry if you feel you have a lot of questions to ask about the property or locale, a good host will be happy to assist you and set your mind at ease.
A homestay can offer travelers unique cultural insights into the destinations they visit and afford them the opportunity to make new friends. Where in the world would you like to experience life as a local?
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