Home is where stories begin.
Home is where we start dreaming. Home is where we are at peace. Home is where one can have warm food. Home is where one can laugh out loud. Home is where you can poop at ease.! definitely yes!
So when it comes to traveling, there is nothing better than finding home away from your own home. It sounds counter intuitive if you think. If you had to find a home somewhere far from your own, why would you want leave the one you already have? Adventure, my dear adventure. One cannot span the mountains and the oceans without an anchor ground, a place that makes you at ease with your surroundings. A place that gives you resting space, rejuvenates and charges you up so that you can carry on with your wanderlust. Such is a home away from home.
Enough romanticizing. What I want to talk about is the difference between staying at a hotel and a home stay.
I recently discovered the wonders of home stays and thought I would share it with everyone here.
For the uninitiated, home stays are places where you share your living space with a local person or a family instead of booking a hotel room. You may have to pay, may not have to pay. You might have to help the family with their chores in return of accommodation and meals.
What to expect from home stays?
They generally have a local person or a family already living in that space. More often than not they entertain guests because they like it rather then the need for money. What it means is that one should be courteous and well mannered to your host. Stay away from communal and racist arguments. Avoid drunken house parties and brawl, unless the host is part of it, or at least okay with it.
Respect their privacy. Respect their property.
As opposed to staying at a hotel, where one can pay for damages, here you might be damaging some ones house. House is a more sentimental possession to your host than a soulless hotel room to the company. So, not everything you break can be compensated with money. Take care of that.
Why I always try to find a home stay before hotels wherever I go now?
Hotel rooms are like lifeless boxes. If you’re a solo traveler out to experience a place to its fullest, nothing can replace the warmth and expertise of a local host. Once you check in to a hotel room, no matter how plush, very soon you are left alone with the four walls and a ceiling to stare at. The clock ticks in silence and you can hear your heart beat to boredom.
Cut to a home stay. There will generally be a warm host waiting to welcome you. As soon you check in, you can meet your new local friend and start planning your day. Since the person has generally being staying there for long, he knows the secret nooks and crannies of the town that can add the local flavor to your stay .
You have the option of sharing a local home made meal with your host, which is impossible staying in a hotel room. We all know hotel menus and tastes always fail to replace home cooked food.
It’s a pleasure to see the town with a local. Your host may take pride in showing you his locality and with a smile would introduce you to his circle of people from the locality. Many a times it opens doors that are otherwise shut to everyday tourists.
There can be mutual exchange of knowledge, skills and culture. Like you can help your host setup a Facebook page. Or examine his sick relative. Or fix a little plumbing job for him, if you have the skills. At the same time you can tell stories of your folks from home and enjoy the stories of lives from your host’s place.
As opposed to surfing channels and internet in your hotel room, this is a much better trade off I say.
It is fun to stay in touch with them once you are back home. Unlike a hotel stay which is easily forgotten. You meet your home stay friends when they come to your city or you go there again.
Now, where to find hosts?
What I have tried is AirBnb.com and the app. Its the first name when it comes to booking a home stay. From a room in a house to a complete house to yourself, everything is listed. AirBnB is always paid and at times little expensive than budget hotel.
Next is Couchsurfing.com and the app. Staying for free is the norm here. It works on Facebook referrals and background checks. It works in your favor if you have also hosted some guests in the past, or at least have a verifiable Facebook account.
So, do check them out next time you are hitting the road. Cheers..!