Staying with a local host family is one of the most affordable types of accommodations available to independent travellers going abroad. Student studying in foreign countries often find this option extremely appealing as do solo adventurers that have committed to staying in one centralized location for at least a few weeks if not longer. It is far more budget-friendly than staying in hotels or renting a place for the duration of your stay.
Besides being easy on the wallet though, staying with a host family has a number of additional benefits. Other than having a comfortable and safe place to stay, you can also have included in your fee most if not all utilities, meals, daily interactions with the locals a.k.a. the family, a local guide if necessary and in most cases, an immediate adopted family that will look out for your well being for the duration of your stay and prove to be life-long friends. It also offers a safe place to get over your culture shock, joyous family type relationships, laughter filled bouts of miscommunication and intercultural learning.
Here are some tips and feedback from other people who have lived with a host family.
“Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions. The last thing a host family wants is their student to feel awkward in their home-stay. It is your home too, so enjoy it!” –Alex M., Canada
“Be sure to express your appreciation for your host family’s hospitality at every opportunity. The more you consciously and visibly appreciate what your host family does for you, the more they will be inclined to create and share fun experiences with you in the future.” – Yosuke T., Japan
“I have found that successful home-stays really add to effective language study programs because you are fully immersed in the language and culture rather than for just a few hours a day.” – Thomas U., Nigeria
“My home-stay was the beginning of a deep and enduring international friendship. With any luck, your home-stay will also be the start warm and lasting relationship so take the time to get to know your family.” – Cesar P., Cuba
“Depending on what country you are in, do not expect ‘American’ privacy - your family may not be afraid to walk into your room while you are changing and tell you that it is time for dinner.” – Stephanie G., United States
“I found that to really appreciate my host family that the best rule of thumb was to spend as much time with them as I would with my own family. This generally included eating dinner together and having quality conversations with my ‘parents’.” – Meaghan J., Canada
“Having a real ‘home’ to come back to at the end of the day was extremely comforting. No matter what had happened that day, I always felt safe coming home and was able to relax.” – Paola S., Columbia
“Make sure you are open to experiencing another culture when you go into a home-stay situation because you are going to be faced with it every day and it can be both challenging and extremely exciting at the same time.” – Arturo L., Spain
“Your host family is going to treat you like another member of the family. Your parents will give you chores sometimes and your brothers and sisters will want you to play with them. They really do adopt you into their family and it really makes it easier to be so far away from home.” - Kai W., Thailand
Have you ever participated in a home-stay? What was the best part? Do you have any advice for others considering the same option for their trip abroad?