Thanks to the entry of alternative accommodations in the tourism industry, we don’t need to be rich to have a good vacation. What’s more, these cheap accommodations are giving travelers a unique kind of experience they wouldn’t have while staying in impersonal hotels.
There are of course horrific stories about really terrible accommodations. There are those about bug-infested mattresses. There are those places that need to get their air ducts cleaned. And the worst, there are those accommodations with dank, stinky, and moldy toilets.
The key here is to be discriminating about these accommodations. You shouldn’t grab the cheapest beds right away. Look at the reviews, and not only their ratings. People have different reasons for giving stars to accommodations. Some would be happy to sleep on the floor as long as they could have beer pongs every night.
Two popular cheap accommodations are hostels and homestays. By homestay, it’s really staying with a family, and not the AirBnB or Plum or similar house rentals. Homestays are not offered in many countries, but they’re quite popular in tourist areas, offered to people who prefer to have rooms of their own but don’t want to shell out that much for hotels.
Other than the number of people you’ll be sharing the room with, let’s compare the differences in what you’d experience in a hostel and in a homestay.
Personal Space and Privacy
If you are particular with your personal space, it’s probably best to stay in a hotel. Homestays have private rooms but you’re in a house with a family you just met. Hostels are more intrusive. Although they have private rooms too, their common areas are teeming with activities. Besides, the main reason you’d want to book at a hostel is their cheap rates and the cheap beds are in dorm rooms. The more people there are in a room, the cheaper it is.
Homestays will give you more privacy. Once you’re in your room, you could relax and be at peace. Dorm rooms, on the other hand, even those with flimsy barriers around the beds, are not for picky people. You need to suffer if someone in the room snores. And there are insensitive people who would talk loudly, bang their things around, hang out like it’s just them in the room even in the middle of the night.
Both types of accommodation offer some level of socialization. If you like traveling because you’d want to meet fellow travelers from around the world, the hostel is for you. Hostels would have different sorts of activities every night, encouraging their guests to interact with each other. Homestays, on the other hand, will give you the opportunity to interact with the locals and get to know their culture deeper. But again, check out reviews because there are also homestays that are impersonal. They provide you your room, and maybe breakfast, but would not hold conversations with you. Whether it’s their attitude, or they’re just respecting your space, you could find it out.
Hostels are usually in tourist districts, where the ‘action’ is. You can just walk to almost anywhere. In the rare cases where they wouldn’t be in tourist centers, transportation would be convenient. It’s the rule of this business. They have to be accessible and convenient.
Most homestays are in residential areas, far from the bustling centers. It would give you a good experience of how the people there live their daily lives. You’d get to experience how they would commute, what life is there beyond the parties, and the tours. While they would not be within walking distance of tourist spots, transportation should also be relatively accessible.
Many hostels have personnel who are also tourists. Most of them offer free lodging for backpackers who, in turn, would work for four to six hours a day without pay. There are also those run by a group of friends, and they would take turns in doing front desk work and stocking up the guests’ needs. As these are informally run by youngsters, it’s expected that you clean as you go. They would have some cleaners from time to time but it would not be as regular as it would be in hotels.
Homestays, on the other hand, are managed by families. Often, they would want to leave a good impression on their guests to get more business, so they are very accommodating with requests and would act fast on inconveniences.
It would be great if you try to experience both the bustling hostels and the laidback homestays. They would offer you different experiences. Enjoy them while you’re young and you still have tolerance for different kinds of people and different kinds of crazy.