Some years back, I decided to travel across the globe and take a break from my routine life. However, months after my trip started, I realized that my finances were depleted, and I ran low on money.
I found that many of my expenses went to paying for accommodation in hotels and bed and breakfasts. Luckily, one of my travel buddies whom I’ve met along the way introduced me to the concept of homestays.
After that, I experienced traveling the world rent-free and never had to pay for my accommodation. Read on and discover the concept of homestay, what it is, its benefits and advantages, where to find them, and even learn some tips during your homestay.
- Homestay: Home Away From Home
- Benefits Of Homestays
- An Immersive Experience
- Creating Meaningful Connections
- How To Prepare For A Homestay
- Tips When Staying At A Homestay
Homestay: Home Away From Home
“What does it mean to live in a ‘homestay’?” you may ask. A homestay is an emerging form of accommodation where travelers can stay with a host family for a period of time.
Your stay may be short-term or long-term, depending on your agreement with the host family. During my homestay in a coastal area in Thailand, I stayed with my host family for a month before moving to another province.
They were gracious enough to let me stay in their home, and the community was also very welcoming and warm toward travelers and foreign people.
Length Of Stays
Homestays can also last up to a year, although this seldom happens since travelers usually move from place to place.
The shortest homestay I’ve had lasted for about three days, but I found that the depth of an experience with a family is not measured by how long you’ve stayed with them.
My travel adventures soon became more interesting when I started homestaying. Not only was I able to cut back on my expenses, but I was also able to learn more about people’s cultures and connected with them in a profound sense.
Benefits Of Homestays
Homestays, as previously discussed, enabled me to cut back on my expenses and save me more bucks than I’d imagined. But there are a lot more benefits to reap beyond saving money.
Adjusting to a foreign and unfamiliar place became much easier because I was in a warm, welcoming environment that was a lot similar to my home.
I was able to learn new skills which I’ve learned throughout my stay with different host families. One of the families I was able to stay with was in the weaving business, so they taught me to weave baskets and textiles in my spare time.
I’ve also experienced pottery, fishing, making charcoal, sewing, and even picked up a few archery skills.
Growth As An Individual
My ability to connect and communicate with different people across the globe also improved and developed as I talked to people of different backgrounds and contexts.
I became greatly familiar with people’s traditions and customs since I was experiencing them first hand. My perspective also widened, and I grew a better understanding of people.
Needless to say, homestay has turned me into a better person and transformed me into an accepting and more thankful person. I became aware of other people’s stories and struggles, which made me reflect on my own.
An Immersive Experience
Because I am a fan of slow tourism, I believe that discovering the true beauty of a place cannot be done in a single day.
Homestays have allowed me to immerse myself in a community and discover what the place offers because I am not pressured to jump from place to place and maintain a rigid itinerary.
Learning About Culture And Traditions
More than that, I was able to delve into the people’s culture and experience one’s way of living.
I got to experience their customs, traditions, and culture by being a family member, which is something that tours and tourist hotspots often do not teach and share.
Homestay is a truly immersive experience because I can connect with the people and learn about the place, rather than staying in a hotel all by myself and visiting guided tours for a short period of time.
Creating Meaningful Connections
Over the course of two years, I was able to form strong relationships with diverse people. I managed to keep in touch with most of my host families and even some members of the community.
The best part of homestay is meeting new people. You never know what things you may encounter because most of the time, people can be pleasantly surprising.
Perhaps the worst part of homestaying is saying goodbye and having to move on to another place.
I stayed in a community where I almost decided not to leave and stay there permanently. It was one of the hardest things to do, and you might get caught up with it, too.
Homestaying, as much as it is an immersive experience, should be treated as what it is: a trip that will inevitably end. One might forget about one’s own reality and disconnect with the world, which is something that travelers usually fall into!
How To Prepare For A Homestay
Now that we’ve pretty much convinced you to go for a homestay option instead of staying at an impersonal hotel, what are the things you need to do before a homestay? Here’s a guide on how to embark on your first journey as homestay travelers.
As in any trip, you’d have to choose your destination. Then, you can start scouting for listings on homes offering homestays as accommodation – Homestay.com is an excellent place to start your research. It is imperative to do some research on a specific area’s customs, traditions, and language so that you can know what to expect, too.
If you know someone who can give you personalized recommendations, that would be better. Almost all of the host families I’ve stayed with were either referred to me by the travelers I’ve met who were homestaying or by the previous family I’ve stayed with who knew another family in the area I’m moving into.
If this is your first time, though, make sure to arrange the details with your host family and contact them before your departure. Tell them your expected date and time of arrival, the assistance you would need, and other pertinent information.
I cannot emphasize this enough – do some research before heading out. Remember that you are staying inside someone’s home, so be sure not to be oblivious and insensitive. I learned this the hard way when I was staying at a house in Norway, where it was customary to bring something to the host’s house upon arrival as a sign of respect.
Ensure that you’ve also done enough research on the legitimacy, reliability, and security of the host family you are with. I always ask for their address beforehand and try to interview them a bit before committing, and do a bit of a background check whenever I can.
Lay down the expectations and agreements beforehand, too, but don’t sound too cocky. You’re staying in someone else’s house, so it’s important to be polite.
Tips When Staying At A Homestay
Here are some of the most important tips I’d like to share during my stay with host families.
When it comes to food, do not be picky unless you have dietary restrictions or allergies. Host families will go the extra mile to prepare something special for you and usually have the best meals and specialties. Do not offend them by not trying out their food.
Second, remember this: their house, their rules if they have certain rules on mealtimes, bedtime, daily routines – respect that.
Aim to be treated as a member of their family and do not expect special treatment. I had an interesting trip because I aimed to be integrated into the family.
Integrate And Connect
Use your time to talk and spend time with your host family. Learn their language and their history. Listen to their stories.
Do not spend too much on your gadgets and electronics and miss out on the best parts of the trip.
Always show your appreciation and gratitude to your host family. Opening their home to someone is a priceless endeavor that any amount of money cannot repay – so always be grateful and polite.
Homestaying is a better alternative for those who would want to gain immersive and profound experiences during their travel. It allows us to see the world from another perspective and integrate ourselves into different communities.
I would say that my homestays became the better part of my adventure. Nothing beats the warmth of home; family is a universal and familiar concept, no matter where you are in the world.