1. To explore somewhere new
Homestays provide the chance to get to know a destination you probably wouldn’t have explored otherwise. Not only could you find a neighbourhood, town, or village yet to feature on the tourist map, but you’ll learn about local customs and traditions, from eating habits to family routines.
2. To get under the skin of a city
Sprawling metropolises such as Paris, New York, Rome and London might count among the world’s greatest cities – but they’re hard to get to grips with in a weekend. Stay with a resident, and you’ll have the ultimate insider to guide you.
Hosts will give you the scoop on the hidden highlights and unusual attractions. They might tip you off on the best place to watch the sunrise, share their favourite cosy café, or help you find the city’s coolest bar scene.
3. For memorable meals
Many hosts will rustle up a traditional meal, or include breakfast in the price of the room. Take this opportunity to sample authentic dishes – a homemade miso soup in Japan or fresh arancini in Italy could give any restaurant a run for its money.
If you want to put your own culinary skills to the test, offer to help out and you’ll likely head home with a new recipe or two up your sleeve. You could even cook a traditional dish from your own country to share with your host, making the experience one of genuine cultural exchange.
4. For a language lesson
Hanging out with a resident means ample chance to practise your language skills. Many hosts inevitably speak English, but will happily support you as you learn. This is a great chance for you to gain a better understanding of the local language, and pick up some new phrases.
Take advantage and ask your host to translate some key sentences that you’ll need as you explore the area. Even if you make a few mistakes, trying to communicate will help you create a bond with your host and the people you meet on your trip.
5. For a warm welcome
While hotels try to distance themselves from the one-size-fits-all image and sell themselves as being “a home away from home”, they never really are. Especially in larger hotels, rooms can feel anonymous and have little personality.
Homestays, on the other hand, may be less polished but are much more welcoming. You’re often encouraged to feel at home – even part of the family. If you’re travelling solo, you’ll find you have someone to share your experiences with, and people who want to hear all about your day.