Travelling is a great way to explore local aspects of a destination, such culture, traditions, food, music, languages, etc. While staying in a hotel provides you great comfort, it often isolates you from the local culture. So for those who want to live like the locals, Homestays are the ideal option. Homestays provide you an experience you would never want to miss while you travel to a destination.
When you choose homestay, you experience something very different from what you would find in other forms of accommodation. This means that you not only get to meet the local people, you also get to live with them. If you wish to truly live and breathe a destination, Homestays are the answer, providing you extended fun and excitement of travel beyond just visiting the destination.
If you recollect your high school vacations, visiting a friend’s place where you had to get involved in those unenthusiastic laughs and forced conversations about school and academics, because you had no choice, you can surely understand how exciting homestays would be. The best part is that when you live with locals, you learn new things – they probably speak in a different language and they are nowhere related to you. So unlimited fun, interaction and memories is what homestays are all about. And yes, if you give it a deep thought, you will know that people who are open to letting strangers stay at their homes are incredibly nice.
Homestays can seem daunting for a lot of people at first, but beyond the apprehension is a potentially life changing experience. So if you’ve decided to take the leap, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your first homestay experience at a new destination:
1) Be polite
Being polite and saying please and thank you wasn’t something your parents said to you to play pranks or to annoy you when you were a child, they really meant it. So, when you’re staying at somebody else’s home, always remember that they are gracious and way too generous to let you stay at their place and never take that for granted. Be extremely polite at all times and thankful for whatever they do for you.
2) Be open to trying new foods
Irrespective of whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, informing your hosts well in advance is a crucial. You will be happy to know that your host family will definitely not force you to eat something that you dislike or anything that goes against your dietary restrictions. Having said that, you should be open to change. Trying new food without considering how complicated the name might sounds would be a great idea too. Like you know, food is one of the best parts about travelling. And there’s no better way to explore local home-made food than homestays. Saying no to a dish without even trying it once can be quite disrespectful, unless you absolutely cannot eat it. Hence, look to try everything especially if it is something you’ve never seen before because food is a reflection of culture. Who knows, you might love some of the dishes and start cooking it when you get back home!
3) Little efforts and minute things count
Everyday behavior such as how you dress, how you talk, how you eat and a lot more about your regular routine life may not be that impactful in your familiar surroundings, but, when you are travelling to a new place, minute things like these matter a lot. In a different country, with people from a different culture would have certain other aspects that cover a major part of their lives that you must try and adapt while you stay with the new family out there. Be adaptive and adjusting in nature to make things easy during your stay.
4) Don’t let social media steal the fun from your travel exposure
One of the most common mistakes travelers make during their homestay experience is that they spend more time being online and are mostly cut-off from their surroundings and people. Hence, we recommend you do-away with your smart phones for the time that you are there at a new place and absorb the things that will have an amazing impact on you in the coming time. It is well understood that you want to stay in touch with your friends, but that can surely be done when you are done with spending good time with your host family. There is a lot you can learn from them and such opportunities don’t come every day, so take advantage!
5) Dress Appropriately
When you are in your home country, wearing whatever you feel like can work. But this does not apply to other countries. Know the customs about what to wear not only in public and at school/work but also at home. In some countries even showing parts of your leg is looked down upon.
6) Help them out in their chores
Helping your host family is a good thing to do. The host family does a lot for you and you should lend a hand doing dishes, cooking, cleaning and taking care of pets. Also, make your own bed and keep your room clean. No host families will like going in to your room to find it messy.
7) Embrace mistakes and live in the moment
it is completely okay to encounter awkward situations as they are bound to happen and there’s no way around it. Whether you have practiced to be fluent in the language and have done a lot of research on the country and their culture, you can still make mistakes and land in quite funny situations. However, you must embrace those moments as a part of your memories that you can cherish for a lifetime. However, before you realize it, all the mistakes or awkward moments will be the ones you will end up laughing at.
8) Gift them something as a thank you gesture
Who doesn’t love gifts! Giving gifts to the host family who opened their doors for a stranger like you is a wonderful way to create some memories. Gifts are a good way to show your appreciation. Many people give their host families gifts when they first arrive. Gifting them with something that can be kept as a memory of your visit can be a really good thing.
9) Keep in touch
Although you may want to disagree with this, but it indeed a hard thing to do. There are plenty of reasons why you may not feel like keeping in contact but there are even more reasons to why you should and make an effort towards it. Your homestay host would surely want to know how you are doing, how was your experience abroad, how that affected you back home and your plans to return for another trip or vacation, etc. Also, it’s not difficult at all. Obviously you don’t have long skype calls with them but a simple email or text can be a nice gesture.
So, if you are planning to visit a new destination soon this summer, don’t forget to explore the destination with a lovely homestay experience. Hopefully, these tips will help you in making it a memorable one! Don’t just visit a destination…live it!
About the Author
Aakriti Singh is a jolly girl who loves to be described as a happy go lucky kind of a person. A shopaholic by heart and old school in nature, Aakriti is one girl who can spend an entire day talking to people and traveling. Listening to songs, dancing her heart out and meeting new people are a few things she loves. Although workaholic, she is good at managing time to make some time for her own self, family and friends. She also likes to write for herself about her personal experiences & opinions and publish them online.