A homestay provides an opportunity to stay with a local family for a fee.
It’s an affordable accommodation alternative, ideal for independent leisure travellers of all ages, interns, gap year students, students living abroad and anyone seeking a real and genuine travel experience. It allows them to experience the local community and culture of the place they’re visiting.
Our hosts all have their own unique interests and hobbies and guests often find a host with similar interests which further complements the homestay experience.
Hosts can help their guests find their feet in a new place, whether it’s help with local orientation or places to eat. It’s also a convenient, value-for-money way to book accommodation when attending an event or conference.
Homestay is a popular form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors stay in a house or apartment of a local of the city to which they are traveling. The length of stay can vary from one night to even a year and can be free, in exchange for monetary compensation, in exchange for a stay at the guest’s property either simultaneously or at another time (home exchange), or in exchange for help on the host’s property. Longer term homestays are popular with students that are participating in study abroad programs. Homestays are examples of collaborative consumption and sharing. In cases where money is not exchanged in return for accommodation, they are examples of a barter economy or gift economy.
Arranging a homestay
Students that are studying abroad and wish to participate in a homestay typically arrange them via their school.
Travelers that wish to participate in a home stay typically arrange them via a hospitality service. The terms of the homestay are generally worked out in advance and will include items such as the type of accommodation, length of stay, chores required to be performed (e.g., cleaning, laundering, help on a farm), curfews, use of utilities and internet, television or telephone, and rules related to smoking, drinking, and drugs.
One form of homestay is a home exchange whereby two parties swap homes for a specific period of time. There are websites that cater to this specific type of homestay.
In Scouting, Scouts sometimes live for a few days with a host family to experience everyday life in that community. This often takes place before or after a jamboree and is usually organized by the organization running the jamboree.
For the hosts, the homestay provides cultural exchange opportunities, or in cases where compensation is provided, hosts may receive monetary compensation and/or help on their property. However, some hosts may may be uncomfortable with the idea of others using their home.
Home stays can provide several opportunities to home stay guests:
- Savings on lodging costs
- Personal connections with people from a different culture and/or social class
- Local perspective and information about the city that is not easily found in guidebooks
- A deeper understanding of the everyday life of the locals
- More interactions with foreigners, thereby strengthening intercultural competence and reducing prejudices and intolerance and easier immersion into foreign language
- Opportunities to stay in areas under-served by hotels or hostels
- Opportunities to stay in unique properties such as igloos, cabins, and castles
- Compared to staying in a hotel, a home stay may result in a lower carbon footprint
- In certain cases where students that are studying abroad stay with a family, the host family may play a pseudo-parental role, giving advice and sometimes supervising students’ activities. In some homestays, families act as cross-cultural advisers, helping the students understand and adjust to their new culture.
Home stays may have disadvantages over hotel/hostel accommodation:
- May require additional planning before travel
- Last minute changes or cancellations by either the host or the guest may inconvenience others
- Lodging and sleeping surfaces may be less comfortable and/or have less privacy
- Guests may be required to adhere to a schedule or follow rules set by a host, which restrict freedom
- Lodging may not be close to tourist attractions
- If the guest and host do not get along, the home stay can make a visit to an otherwise pleasant city unbearable
- In cases where the guest must perform a service for the host, the homestay can deplete the amount of time available for sightseeing