Homestays & Local Immersion - Best Tours & Trips 2019
For a truly immersive experience, homestays are a tried and true method. You are welcomed into someone's home and learn how a typical family operates day-to-day. It's a truly unique way to experience a country. You come away with a deeper appreciation as cultural subtleties reveal themselves in a way that is simply not possible when staying in a hotel or hostel.
Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.
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Top Homestays & Local Immersion Experiences
Enjoying an authentic homemade meal made from farm fresh ingredients in Romania
Learning to make pasta from scratch in an Italian home
Studying abroad in Hungary and walking to school along the Danube every day.
Chatting with a Moroccan family in a Kasbah over a spread of olives and mint tea.
Waking up to the sights, smells, and sounds at a traditional farmhouse along the Mekong River in Vietnam
Helping out at a Yak farm in Nepal
Staying at a family farmhouse in the Himalayan Syangja district of Nepal, and enjoying the incredible views and the warm Nepali welcome.
Living with a Lepcha family in northeast India, and learning about a culture and way of life that are thousands of years old.
Staying with a friendly local in Cordoba, Argentina, and enjoying a taste of the Argentine nightlife.
Homestays & Local Immersion Trip Reviews
6,193 Homestays & Local Immersion Tour Reviews - Summary 95% Recommend
Homestays & Local Immersion Tours and Travel Guide
Homestays & Local Immersion Attractions & Landmarks Guide
For a truly immersive experience, homestays are a tried and true method. You are welcomed into a local's home and learn how a typical family operates day-to-day. It's a truly unique way to experience a country. You come away with a deeper appreciation as cultural subtleties reveal themselves in a way that is simply not possible when staying in a hotel or hostel. Some tour companies frequently offer a night or two accommodation in the home of a local family as part of the overall tour experience. Most homes are quite authentic, which in some countries, may mean modest accommodations. If you go in with an open mind and a thirst for immersion, you will likely emerge with rich, unique memories.
What is a Homestay?
A homestay is, simply put, staying at someone's home. But there are different types of home stay, and the experience varies according to where in the world you are, and how you go about organizing it.
Typical homestays involve staying in a local family's house, and living how they live. You may be expected to pay for accommodation and food (even if you are not directly asked to do so). These homestays can be arranged through a tour, or you may be lucky enough to meet someone while traveling who invites you to stay with them.
Some homestays are businesses that are established for the purpose of tourist accommodation. The family will live in the building, but there will be fixed prices, dedicated rooms for tourists, and perhaps even a menu. There may be a sign outside advertising it as a "homestay". These types of homestays can still give a more immersive experience than staying at a hotel, but you may feel cheated if you were expecting to live as the locals do.
House sitting, that is, staying in someone's house while they're away, can be arranged through various websites. These arrangements are usually good value; some are cheap, while others are free, and some people will even pay you to stay in their house rather than leaving it empty. While some may not see house sitting as a homestay (that is, the residents of the house are not there during your stay), it is a useful option for people who would rather have their own space to cook and relax, rather than just having a hotel room.
Benefits of a Homestay
The main benefit of a homestay is that it offers an immerse experience. You are surrounded by a new culture and get to learn more about it than if you were staying in a hotel. You also get to spend your time with new and interesting people and gain insight into how they live.
Home tays also allow you to offer insights into your culture. Your host will likely be just as interested in learning how you live, whether it's by looking at pictures of your home or listening to some of your favorite music.
Living with people who speak a different language to you is also an ideal way to immerse yourself in the language and to pick it up quickly. Not to mention you'll have native speakers on hand willing to help you with any language problems you encounter.
Things to Remember
Follow local customs when you're living with your hosts. They may be too polite to tell you what you're doing wrong, so the easiest way to avoid a faux pas is to do as they do. For example, do they take their shoes off when entering the house? Do they avoid using their left hand? And remember, what is considered polite in your culture may not be so in theirs. Even if your mother taught you to always clean up after yourself, if your host insists on taking your dirty plate, it may be impolite to insist on washing it yourself.
Spend time with your host family and live as they live. If you spend your evenings alone in your room, or go out to eat at restaurants instead of eating with the family, then not only will you be missing out on the experiences that make a home stay so wonderful, you'll also likely be seen as rude by your hosts.
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