5 Reasons To Choose A Homestay Over A Hotel

5 Reasons To Choose A Homestay Over A Hotel

Emily, of Two Dusty Travelers (formerly Backpacks & Bandaids), shares why she believes that homestays are much better than hotels when it comes to budget, culture and responsible travel:

The first time I traveled to Kenya, I was nervous about signing up for a homestay. What would my hosts be like? Would we have anything in common? But by the end of my first day, I was sold. Homestays are a great way to travel ethically and sustainably, plus you’re guaranteed to have an experience completely unlike anyone else’s.

If you’ve never lived with a local while traveling, here are five great reasons to go for it: 

1. Support the local economy. Why not invest in a local family rather than giving your money to a faceless hotel chain? Not only will it be easier on your wallet, it will shift resources to a community that might otherwise never see tourism dollars. Just be sure to do your research to be certain your host family is being appropriately compensated!

2. Home-cooked food. No restaurant dish will ever live up to the authentic Kenyan meals my host mother cooked in her basic kitchen. Knowing how much I loved the flatbread called chapati, she even made extra the night before I left so I would have a snack for the long flight home.

3. Completely unique experiences. Walking the streets of Nairobi with my host brothers as built-in tour guides was exponentially better than exploring on my own. I always felt safe, and I had them to answer questions and point out things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. At another homestay in Tanzania, our host took us to stunningly beautiful hot springs in the middle of nowhere - which we would never have found without her. While other tourists are stuck on buses and fighting crowds, you’ll be having adventures that can’t be found in a brochure.

4. Cultural exchange. As an American, I see plenty of negative news about other countries. A homestay will break down those preconceived notions literally overnight. You’ll get to experience real life at your destination, rather than glimpsing it from a passing tour bus. My host brothers and I passed many hours comparing and contrasting life in our two countries – it was fascinating, eye-opening, and often hilarious. They’d been worried that I would break their bunk beds after hearing rumors of America's obesity problem, and I’d been afraid they wouldn’t speak a word of English. Turns out, we were both way off. I ended up having more in common with them than I do with plenty of people from my hometown!

5. You'll make friends for life. More than a decade later, my first Kenyan host family are still my good friends. Any time I’m passing through, I know I’ll be welcomed with open arms. We’ll sit squished together around the dining table, sharing favorite dishes and laughing at old memories. No hotel can beat that!

tanzania project vdora

- Emily and Aaron blog about ethical and off the beaten path adventures at Two Dusty Travellers

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