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Unique homestays: live like a local around the world

Discover the allure of unique homestays and find out how to get free accommodation in amazing locations near your home or abroad.


Unique homestays

Have you ever craved an authentic travel experience, something more than the sterile comfort of hotel chains? Then let's journey into a world where vacations are about immersion and connection. We're talking about unique homestays.

This is not just another tourist brochure fantasy; it’s real. You're sharing meals with locals in their home, learning about their culture and making a positive contribution to that community. Unique homestays transport us out of our everyday life and ignite love affairs with destinations.

And you can make this experience even more enriching – and cheaper – if you try doing a work exchange. In this type of trip, you exchange your time and skills for free accommodation in unique homestays and other types of hosts around the world.

The appeal of unique homestays

If you're a traveler with a love affair for authentic experiences, unique homestays should be on your radar. Unlike traditional hotel chains or vacation rentals, these accommodations let you dive headfirst into the everyday life of locals.

The cultural exchange and local experience

Homestays offer a more intimate and authentic cultural experience compared to traditional accommodations. Living with local hosts provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the daily life, traditions, and customs of the destination. You get to witness firsthand how locals live, eat, and interact, fostering a deeper understanding of the culture.

It's a chance to live like the locals do, and even participate in community events. It gives you that deep cultural immersion no guided tour can provide.

shared meals are among the highlights of homestays

Building meaningful relationships

Homestays provide an opportunity to build meaningful connections with locals. Living with a host family or interacting closely with hosts fosters a sense of community and can lead to long-lasting friendships, which also deepens understanding between cultures. And hey, who wouldn’t want friends scattered across the globe?

Discovering off-the-beaten-path locations

By staying in a homestay, you can experience the destination beyond its tourist hotspots. Hosts can share their favorite local spots, whether it's a hidden cafe, a neighborhood market, or a scenic viewpoint. This enables you to explore and appreciate the destination from a local's perspective, rather than just following the well-trodden tourist trail.

Besides, homestays are often located in residential neighborhoods, away from the typical tourist hubs. This allows travelers to explore lesser-known locations that may not be easily accessible from standard accommodations. Discovering these hidden gems provides a more authentic and unique perspective of the destination.

Sustainability and positive impact

By living with residents you will also directly contribute towards sustainable tourism practices by distributing income among local communities rather than large corporations. This makes for responsible travel where you’re giving back as much as you’re getting.

So, consider choosing a unique homestay experience. A homestay is not only about securing lodging - it's an opportunity to become integrated into someone else's home and social circle, even if for a short time.

there are many Unique homestays around the world

Tips for a good homestay experience

1. Researching local culture and customs

Before embarking on your homestay adventure, take the time to delve into the local culture and customs of your destination. Understanding the traditions, social norms, and common practices will help you navigate your homestay more smoothly. Research the local etiquette, dress codes, and any specific cultural nuances that may affect your interactions with your host family and the community.

If you’re going abroad, learn a few basic phrases in the local language. While many hosts may speak English, making an effort to communicate in the local language can enhance your cultural experience and demonstrate respect for the host culture.

2. Adapting to the unique aspects of each homestay

Every homestay is different, and adapting to the unique aspects of each one adds to the richness of your experience. Each culture and each particular host or family will have its own routines, traditions, and ways of doing things.

Establish open communication with your hosts from the beginning. Discuss expectations, house rules, and any preferences you may have. This helps create a comfortable living environment for both you and your hosts.

Also try to embrace the daily activities of your host family. Whether it's helping with chores, joining in meals, or attending local events, active participation fosters a sense of community and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the homestay experience.

At the same time, be mindful of your host family's privacy and routines. Respect their space and adhere to any cultural norms regarding personal boundaries.

3. Embracing the unexpected

One of the beauties of homestays lies in the unplanned moments and surprises that can arise. Embrace these experiences with an open heart and a sense of adventure.

Be flexible and open to spontaneity. Plans may change, and you might find yourself invited to impromptu gatherings or events. Embracing these opportunities can lead to some of the most memorable experiences.

Also, approach challenges with a positive attitude. If things don't go as planned, consider them as part of the adventure. Sometimes, the most valuable lessons and connections come from navigating the unexpected.

staying at Unique homestays is a way to live like a local

Volunteering in unique homestays

How to find unique homestays? There are different platforms where you can find homestays around the world, paying for accommodation as if it were a hotel or Bed and Breakfast. But there's also a very interesting alternative.

If you’re looking for a truly extraordinary journey, Worldpackers is the perfect choice. It takes travel to the next level by providing homestay opportunities for free.

Yes, you haven't read it wrong: you can get a free stay! It works like this: you volunteer your skills or time at a local project or business. In exchange, you get free accommodation at one of these incredible places.

Beyond offering practical benefits like saving money on accommodation, there’s more profound impact here too. Worldpackers is fostering cultural exchange and building bridges between different parts of the world.  You help out in meaningful ways that directly benefit the community where you’re staying. It’s about connecting people from diverse backgrounds and encouraging mutual understanding.

You will also get to try out new things, put your skills to use where they’re most needed or find out hidden talents. The volunteer roles required by hosts are quite varied, so there’s surely something that fits you – and more often than not, you don’t even need to have previous experience performing that task.

You might also like to read:

a young volunteer and his host during a Unique homestay experience

How to sign up for a unique homestay experience 

Imagine trading your skills for a stay in an authentic Balinese family temple or working on an organic farm in Tuscany, while having the comforts of home. That's what you get when you use Worldpackers. And it's very easy to start.

1. Creating an account

The first step is creating an account with Worldpackers. It’s simple, quick, and free of charge. You must simply submit your name, email address and travel preferences.

Then, you can create a detailed profile that showcases your abilities. Be it teaching languages or farmhouse cooking; highlight anything that can make your application stand out from others. The more comprehensive your profile is, the better chances you have at getting accepted by hosts around the world.

2. Finding the perfect homestay

The next step is finding your preferred unique homestay among countless options available worldwide. Use search filters to find accommodations suiting specific needs, from the skills you possess to the locations you're interested in visiting.

Paying attention to reviews helps too. Previous volunteers leave comments on hosts’ profiles about their experiences and may help shape expectations about potential hosts. Don’t forget to check host requirements and the benefits they offer: are meals included? What is the accommodation like?

You can also talk to previous travelers and to hosts before you confirm the trip. Ask any questions and clear all your concerns, thus increasing the chances of having an amazing transformative experience.

Keep reading our blog to understand how Worldpackers works.

a young traveler volunteering in a homestay in India

Unique homestays around the world

Traveling to new places gives us an opportunity for unique experiences, but nothing can match the immersive charm of homestays. As we've already mentioned, these accommodation options let you experience everyday life.

We’ve selected a few examples of unique homestays available for volunteering at the Worldpackers platform just to give you a taste. Browse the “Homestay” filter at the website for many more options. There are hundreds of opportunities available in all continents.

Immerse yourself in local culture in Mexico

"We are a traveling family and love receiving guests willing to share and exchange experiences and knowledge. We are looking for a Worldpacker to help us at home with cooking (only for a few people). In addition to cooking, the help required would be to put the kitchen in order (wash dishes and tidy up). Outside of these tasks we also propose a good experience exchanging knowledge, language, recipes, conversations", say the hosts of this unique homestay in beautiful San Miguel de Allende.

San Miguel is a really interesting colonial city and the hosts live in a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by nature, from which it is very easy to get to the center of the city. They offer a stay in a private room with breakfast, lunch and dinner in exchange of 20 hours of help per week.

"My first experience at Worldpackers exceeded my expectations. Erika and Gerardo always made me feel very welcome and comfortable in their home. I learned a lot about Mexican culture thanks to our walks through SMA and our pleasant conversations. Happy to have met you and to have welcomed me with so much love into your home", said Magaly, a volunteer from Peru. 

Click here for more information about this unique homestay.

you will find on Worldpackers several Unique homestays in Mexico

Share time with your hosts while restoring a farmhouse in France

The hosts of this unique homestay are a couple restoring an old house. They also do a lot of gardening, creating dry ornamental gardens all around the house. The house, made of stone, was built in 1853 and is located in a hilly landscape alternating between forest and scrubland. Around the place you will find many paths for beautiful walks in nature.

The village is located 10 kms away from Uzès, the closest main town, which is really beautiful, with old buildings made of stone and a château from the XIth century. The region itself is magnificent, with many interesting places to visit, among which the Pont du Gard.

"Clémentine and Manuel are amazing people above all. They are thoughtful as to your needs and wants and make sure you feel completely comfortable. They are interesting and have good conversations and genuinely care. The work is interesting and hands on and you can be a good contribution to the team. There are a number of cool things to do around and if you are without a car (which i was) they make sure to offer to drive you interesting places. Truly a home away from home. This was an incredible experience i will always remember", said Suade, from Australia.

Find out more about this volunteering opportunity.

Unique homestay in France

Help creating a Zero Waste homestay in India

"Experience the future of sustainable living at our Zero Waste Homestay, a pioneering venture that redefines hospitality. More than just a place to stay, it's an opportunity to reduce your ecological footprint while enjoying the comforts of a home away from home", says the host of this project.

They offer a work exchange opportunity with free accommodation and meals in an eco-friendly homestay surrounded by lush greenery with plenty of outdoor activities nearby.

"Prasenjit and his brother Debajyoti welcomed me and made me feel comfortable from the moment I reached the homestay. He is considerate about the environment and very much passionate about permaculture. I got to learn about the history, culture of that place and also about living with minimum waste. During my stay, they were always there to guide me in everything", said Doli, a previous volunteeer.

Keep reading about this unique homestay.

a young volunteer and her host cooking together in India

Collaborate with an eco-project homestay in Bulgaria

Get in touch with nature in an authentic Bulgarian village. Your tasks will be gardening and farming related and vary with the season, e.g. planting, landscaping, watering, composting, weeding, mowing, harvesting. This is a training opportunity for volunteer couples who want to learn practical permaculture skills.

This unique homestay is located in a quiet rural location. It's a friendly village located near the Turkish border, a practical stop if you're on your way between Europe and Asia. You will stay in a nice guest room and eat healthy food with mostly fresh vegetarian ingredients, while getting the chance to be part of local cultural traditions.

"Rayne was a very welcoming and knowledgeable host (as were her dogs), and we felt at home during our visit. She helped us immerse ourselves within the local culture and people, and we were lucky enough to be given opportunities not often available to tourists. We learnt a number of various skills and would recommend this host to anyone looking to learn more about permaculture and Bulgaria itself", said Michael, from the UK.

Find more information about this homestay opportunity.

a beautiful homestay in Bulgaria

Help taking care of a lovely home in Brazil

What about enjoying beautiful Paraty, one of the nicest towns in Brazil, while staying with a local for free? You can get that chance if you're willing to help keep the house clean. Besides accommodation (private ensuite room), you'll get the ingredients to prepare your meals and pottery lessons.

"A wonderful, welcoming, clean, organized house, with a harmonious and delicate aesthetic and natural beauty. Marcia and her daughter Thais are top-notch hosts, cultured, polite, kind and charming. I felt great volunteering with them and enlightened by the elegance and peace they provide to their guests. I had the pleasure of experiencing the city's International Literature Festival and was nourished by the local culture and artistic inspiration that Marcia provides us with in every detail of her home, her posture and conduct as a Queen of Arts and Hospitality! Thankful for Everything Girls!", said Barbara, a Worldpackers volunteer.

Keep reading about this homestay volunteering position in Paraty, Brazil.

a unique homestay in Paraty, Brazil

Ready to explore these unique homestays?

So, we've journeyed through the charm and allure of unique homestays. We’ve dived into their benefits over traditional accommodations and also discovered how Worldpackers lets you get a free stay at unique accommodations globally. Trading skills for a peek into everyday life in foreign lands? That’s enriching travel!

So why wait? Start planning your next trip with a twist today! And while you're at it, follow us on social media for more travel tips and inspiration. We're on Tiktok and Instagram.

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