Nowadays, it is far too easy to visit a country without truly experiencing its culture. By choosing to hide behind the polished gates of a resort, to only visit the popular tourist spots and to dine in restaurants where the cuisine has been adapted to suit our foreign tastes, we distance ourselves from the very country we have decided to visit.
In the past, perhaps fearing the unknown and trusting better-known hotels and hostels, people may have shied away from homestays. Now, with countless online forums and travel websites, we can make different decisions based on the detailed reviews of other travellers and select a homestay to suit us. There are fewer scary unknowns, and a homestay experience can provide you with unique memories.
A hotel is reliable but often nothing out of the ordinary, while visiting a homestay will offer a true taste of the country.Here are five reasons you should add homestay to your list of accommodation options:
- Your hosts
Many travellers will discover a home-away-from-home at their homestay. The kind of people who are willing to open their homes to travellers are guaranteed to be warm and welcoming, ready to share their culture and divulge stories about their home country. By visiting a true local home, you will learn local customs, hear invaluable stories, and see a culture which has not been tainted by the tourism industry.
- Travel advice
While you can easily find the most popular tourist sites listed in countless articles across the internet, your host will be able to tell you about places which are important to locals, and the legends and stories surrounding these areas. Many of the world’s greatest spots have been overrun by tourists, rife with pickpockets and tacky gift shops – even sacred temples can be swarming with sweaty crowds of tourists, snapping selfies at every angle. However, a local religious site will provide you with that spiritual silence you are looking for, a local market will introduce you to ingredients you have never seen before, and just imagine a spectacular trek in the mountains minus the crowds.
Although a phrasebook can now fit conveniently into your back pocket, there is one thing it can never truly teach you – pronunciation. So instead of burying your head in a phrasebook and slowly trying out some syllables, learn from the locals themselves – they will probably teach you some local slang as well!
Exchange the fumes and noise of a busy city for a stay in the rural countryside. Stray off the beaten path and come back with memories that very few travellers can rival. Without the light pollution of a city, the stars will be clear and the sunsets more vibrant.
Of course, if you prefer the city life, an increasing number of homestays are popping up in major urban areas. Get some local advice on the best value restaurants, tips for navigating the local transport and maybe some friends for a night out!
While many restaurants along the tourist trail have adapted to suit tourists’ tastes, local families remain true to their roots, proud of recipes which have been passed down through generations and eager to share them with travellers.
And remember, the more rural your homestay, the more likely that your food will come directly from the gardens and fields surrounding you – organic and healthy!
One of my best memories is trying some rice wine in Vietnam – we forced a smile and swallowed past the burning sensation, only realising four shots later how strong it was – definitely acquiring some unforgettable memories.
Originally published on The National Student – https://wordpress.com/post/isabellerayner.com/545