Homestays: An Authentic Experience Abroad

Homestays are a wonderful way to experience a new culture and even become part of a community while you are travelling. Most countries around the world offer homestay experiences either through websites, local language schools, or cultural exchange programs. Or even informal homestays through friends of friends!

My experience: Homestay in Guatemala

Homestay in Xela Guatemala experience www.grassrootsnomad.com

When I first moved to Guatemala, I headed to Xela to learn some Spanish before I started volunteer work. I had found a Spanish school online before I arrived, Kamalbe, which is a non-profit school dedicated to education and social justice. Through this school, I was matched up with a local family for a homestay while I was doing my intensive Spanish program, and I could not have been happier with my new Guatemalan family. Despite not knowing a word of Spanish when I arrived, I was welcomed into the family with open arms. By the time I left six weeks later, I was part of the family. My Guatemalan parents called me ‘Laurita’ and I was introduced to people as their daughter. I went back to visit for Semana Santa about a month after I left and I felt so happy to be back with my family. I am so grateful to them for my unforgettable experience in Guatemala and they will always be my Guatemalan family.

Couchsurfing in South Africa – Jo from Wander With Jo

Homestays experience abroad www.grassrootsnomad.com

One of my favourite things to do while travelling is spending quality time with locals to understand their culture and lifestyle. This can be achieved perfectly with Couchsurfing. I have met amazing people and made friends for life by living with locals and attending Couchsurfing events. However, during my recent trip to South Africa, I tried surfing with my parents for the first time. I was sceptical and had already shortlisted other accommodation options just in case things went south. It turned out to be one of the best experiences ever. We were surfing in Johannesburg and Cape Town and both of our hosts were amazing. We used to cook together, go out for dinners, and spend long hours together sipping wine and chatting. We were all touched by their hospitality and we felt so welcomed and loved. My parents loved their first homestay experience so much that they want to go back!

Read more about Jo’s experiences on her blog or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Homestay in Peru – Simone and Dan from The Aussie Flashpacker

homestays experience peru www.grassrootsnomad.com

A cultural highlight of my travels through Peru was our homestay experience in a small village called Raqchi, located in the Peruvian Highlands and only a few hours from Cuzco. Our homestay experience was a fantastic opportunity to immerse ourselves in and gain a deeper insight into the customs, everyday lives and traditions of Peruvian culture. We stayed in a traditional family home that was basic but very clean and decorated with beautiful pottery and lovely bright coloured embroidered linens and curtains. Each meal throughout our stay was fantastic and after dinner our families even dressed us up in traditional clothing for a local festival which included lots of dancing which was really fun! When it came time to pack our bags we sadly said our goodbyes to our lovely Peruvian mama and the friendly, generous villagers who had welcomed us into their homes and community. It was an amazing experience to be a part of the community of Raqchi and to learn about their day to day lives and to participate in their customs and traditions.

Read more about Simone and Dan’s experiences on their blog, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Homestay in the Philippines – Bianca from The Altruistic Traveller

Homestay Philippines www.grassrootsnomad.com

I always try to stay in a homestay in every country I visit, especially through Southeast Asia because I know the kind of positive impact it can have on small local communities in that region. While I was recently in the Philippines I found a site called Philippines Homestay, which has a list of homestays available throughout the country. I chose Balicasag Island because of its remote location and was rewarded with such an unforgettable experience. Rita invited us into her traditional home on the island, cooked us amazing Filipino food and shared with us what life is like for the small community on the island. They make most of their money from fishing but the homestay program has provided them with an alternative form of income that goes a long way to providing for Rita and her family.

Read more about Bianca’s experiences on her blog, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Homestay in Australia – Rebecca from Where To This Time

Homestay Australia experience www.grassrootsnomad.com

When my friend and I traveled to Australia, one of the highlights was a stop in Canberra, the capital of Australia, and the nearby Avalanche Homestead. Avalanche Homestead is in the Tinderry Mountains about 45 minutes from Canberra. There we saw, and tried, sheep-shearing, looked for wombats and kangaroos, rode horses, and went out into the bush for some billy tea and damper bread. If you want to experience Australia up close and personal and learn about life there, I highly recommend a homestay. The hosts are always gracious and can tell you things about Australia in depth that you wouldn’t ordinarily hear on a tour.

Read more about Rebecca’s experiences on her blog, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Homestay in Cuba – Joanna from The World in My Pocket

Homestays in Cuba experience www.grassrootsnomad.com

I believe that you can only experience a place if you get to know its people. This is why, when I chose to travel to Cuba, I felt very happy that I will get a chance to stay with a local family in Varadero. As soon as I arrived they welcomed me like a member of their family. It was their son’s birthday so immediately they offered me their most comfortable chair and served me with cake and juice. Every morning, they would make me a breakfast that kept me full until dinner. When a bee stung me in their garden and I started to have allergic reactions they took me to the hospital and made sure I receive the best care. When I left, they took me to the bus station and made me tea for the road, to clean my wound. I could never thank them enough for their hospitality.

Read more about Jo’s experiences on her blog, or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

Have you tried a homestay? What was your experience like?

If you want an authentic travel experience try a homestay. Top travel bloggers share their stories. Read at www.grassrootsnomad.com

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18 Comments
Anna

Although I’ve never tried it as a way to travel, I’ve stayed in people’s homes by chance, simply being offered a place to sleep while hitch-hiking. I thinks it’s a wonderful way to meet people and discover their cultures. This is also why I love hitch-hiking in the first place, travelling is just so much more interesting that way!
As a side note, I’ve noticed that most of those experiences are by women. I’ve heard so many times how dangerous it was for a single female to travel by herself, it’s nice to know there are so many others who make it work. I wouldn’t give up solo travel for the world!

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leslieweighill

I love home stays – you give up control over your food and curfew, but you gain in family. I now host travellers in my own home in Uganda. Kind of a “pay-it-forward” thing.

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christine

Wow what an adventurous way of traveling but the experiences must be so incredible. You really meet the locals and live their lives for a short while. Bravo!

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Maria

This is perfect! I am looking into a homestay in the Philippines for later this year. I want to experience the way the locals live, eat their food and talk to them about their views, their lives and their dreams. No better way to experience a country than by getting to know locals.

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TravelTheGlobe4Less

I too have never really booked a proper home stay although I do remember turning up for a summer camp job in Italy only to find no one knew I was coming. I was quickly lodged with a local family until the camp started a few days later and despite knowing no Italian and they no English, they were amazing. They showed me the sights, taught me some language and looked after me. Italy truly is the best country for genuine hospitality as another family also took me in (family of the camp directors) and hosted an impromptu birthday party for me. I will always be grateful to them for creating such amazing memories which I still recount twenty years later

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Across the West

I have been hearing about homestays for just a little while now. I haven’t had the opportunity (or the courage if completely honest) to give it try yet. I am certain this is something I will do in the near future and the information here is very helpful.

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Travel on the Brain

Wow, so many inspiring travellers and their stories here. I definitely agree that a homestay is a great way to travel deeper and get to know a country and its cculture more. Plus, it is a unique way to meet people and hear about their lives.

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ckaway

Love reading stories about the different experiences travelers have. This was a great collection; thanks for putting it together.

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The Challenge of Adventure

What an awesome way to see the world. This is the type of experiences people should be having. If more people would travel, and travel like this, the world would be a better place. I plan to travel just like this as much as I can. What a great way to learn about other cultures!

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Tamshuk

I have experienced homestay in Gili Trawangan island, Indonesia. It was my best accommodation till today, surpassing all the comforts of a luxury resort. The best part was getting to gel with the local guys

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Jenny Far Away

Love homestays! There’s no better way to get to know how locals live than to live with them. There are a few good resources here too (taking note of the Philippine one for sure!)

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Grassroots Nomad

Great Jenny – I hope you are able to try a Filipino one soon!!

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Andra

Ok, you definitely got me subscribing to your blog after reading this article 🙂 we live doing homestays and staying with locals as much as possible! It was trule a pleasure to read this, thank you for sharing ☺️

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Grassroots Nomad

Awww thanks so much Andra! I love homestays as well, they are such a great way to meet people 🙂

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Global Brunch

This sounds like a great way to gain a deeper understanding of a culture and really connect with the people and their stories! I’ve only ever done home stays when couchsurfing. I would love to find out more about this and try it in the future. Thanks so much for inspiring me to try something new!

Happy travels!
Maria

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Grassroots Nomad

Thanks Maria! Homestays are amazing and I’m trying to do more and more of them as I travel. We are heading to Mexico in a month or so, so I will have to start researching!

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