When you come for a short holiday a hotel is probably a good choice because you know what you get. But if you are lucky and have more time than just a short holiday you definitely should consider other accommodations that hotels and guesthouses. I tell you why…
- You can get a very nice accommodation for an incredible price!
When you are in a touristic area rooms can be pretty expensive. Local families often build new houses with a good standard and try to make some money with it. They are mostly flexible with the price – sometimes because they don’t know what to expect, sometimes because a good price for you is still a lot of money for their family.
- You can get more than just a room.
Maybe you’d like to have a fridge. It can be so nice to have a kitchen. When you book a homestay you can ask for all of these additional things. Normally it is possible and no problem at all.
In Sri Lanka we were the first guests in a jungle villa. The facilities were brand new. We had a kitchen and a fridge and a nice balcony on our own. We rented two rooms together with a friend and spent an amazing time in the jungle, surrounded by birds and monkeys. The location was 5 minutes from the beach, so we didn’t lack anything!
- You can get what you can not book!
Sometimes opportunities open up when you get along well with locals. They can give you what you can not book: a real cultural experience. They can explain rituals or habits to you and you can ask about observations you made. In return they often are interested in your country, your work and your background.
When we stayed in a homestay in Kochi, India, we had one of our best travel experiences at all: we were invited to an Indian wedding! The homestay was located in the center of old Kochi where it is usually expensive to stay. We paid a reasonable price for a nice room with attached bathroom. The family was very friendly and the mother prepared nice traditional breakfast. They told us of an engagement party and we kindly asked some questions about it – in the end we were invited to join! We felt really underdressed – all women in beautiful saris … and me, in my best travel skirt combined with a top. I felt pretty bad because a top is nothing proper to wear in India. But everyone was very friendly and we were even asked to go on stage for a picture with the future bride and bridegroom (who we didn’t know!). After the celebration our host gave us a very sweet feedback: his family enjoyed having us as guests and they loved getting in touch with people with a different cultural background. We lacked words because for us it was an overwhelming experience. When we said good-bye to the host, his wife gave him a hint and we were invited to the wedding! It took place 5 days after the engagement party. We changed our travel plans and came back after 4 days. The host organized that his brother’s wife wrapped me in my sari and helped me to look real Indian. I will never forget this experience. The whole wedding party was a highlight, of course: the bus ride in an Indian party bus where everyone was dancing, the wedding ceremony in a catholic church with two couples, the food, the beautiful traditions, the good-bye to the bridge in her new house – everything was overwhelming. We could ask all our questions about the arranged marriage and about the tradition. We learned a lot and we felt part of the big family; since the engagement party everybody knew us and made us feel part of their community. And it all started by booking a nice little homestay in Kochi…
As you see I highly recommend booking a homestay. All you need to do is to be open and friendly, to expect nothing but embrace everything you are offered. Show respect for the different culture and traditions and be sensitive. Maybe you’ll make an unexpected new experience.
Sometimes we learn not with the brain but with the heart. Your stay can help to remove barriers between cultures! Be aware that you form the image locals get of tourists! You can make a difference here. We have responsibility for the place we live, even if it is just for a short time. Go local and leave a positive footprint!