Sunday, November 26, 2017

How to Prepare Yourself for a Memorable Homestay Experience

More and more people these days are opting to stay in homestays as compared to hotels. While home-stays can provide you with an amazing local experience, you must go with a right set of expectations. Here are a few pointers based on my travels and stays with host families that will help you get the best of your vacation at a homestay.



FOOD
  1. Homestays are the best place to stay if you like to try local cuisine. For instance if you are staying in a homestay somewhere in south India be open to eat idly, upma, dosa or puttu. Expecting paranthas, butter chicken or shahi paneer will not work.
  2. Come prepared to adapt to the menu set by the host. Mostly in home-stays there is a day’s fixed menu. Unlike hotels, home-stays won’t have an elaborate menu to choose from. It is a good idea to discuss with your host in case you have any food allergies or if you don’t eat something.
  3. Also, If you like to eat non vegetarian food please clarify in advance with the host if non vegetarian food is served in the house and if it is included in the cost or not.

SERVICES
  1. Book a home-stay if you want to know more about the place you are visiting. I have spent hours talking to the families and got to know about many hidden places and cultural information that is not available anywhere on internet.
  2. While hotels can provide you 24*7 room-service they lack the personal touch and care that the host can provide in a home-stay. Once on a trip I lost the keys to my baggage; my host was kind enough to take my baggage to the nearest key maker and got it fixed by the time I had my tea.
  3. Don’t talk to the host like you talk to (read order) the house-keeping staff in a hotel. He is the owner of the place and deserves respect.

SAFETY AND SECURITY
Home-stays are run by the families and limited staff personally appointed by the host so you can be sure of your safety and security. The host himself, being a part of the locality, will never do anything that can harm his reputation. While staying in home-stays I have never felt the need of locking my room when I am around and I have always ended up being a part of the family.


FACILITIES

Home stays may be not be as luxurious as five-star hotels, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be as comfortable. In fact, in some ways they beat five-stars by offering amenities like kitchens and truly personalized service. You will not have to run to the market for small things you might need in emergency. Your host will be happy to get it for you from his place. For instance once I had cut my finger and the host immediately came with his first aid kit, another time I got my clothes wet and the lady of the house dried them in her drier.

But at the same time be aware that you might not get some facilities like power back-up, attached bathrooms, AC, geyser, laundry etc if you are choosing a home-stay in remote area. So you must talk to the host in advance about the facilities available. Also check for its accessibility. Some home-stays are away from the main tourist area and you might have to walk a bit to reach the place. So check that in advance if you have older people who have issues with walking. Also, as already mentioned do not expect the room service in a home-stay.


HOME DECORUM
Home-stay is a family run place. Unlike hotels, every house has some rules. So when you choose to stay with a family you become a part of the family and same rules apply to you too. It’s a good idea to understand that and behave accordingly.
Here are a few things to be kept in mind for a happy memorable experience:
  1. Please check if there are any house timings and follow that. Inform the host in case you intend to come late or stay outside any particular day. Your safety and security is a big concern for the host.
  2. Please take permission before smoking or drinking. And dispose of the leftovers carefully.
  3. Make sure you use the amenities provided to you wisely and leave them in working condition. When using water and electricity, make sure you don’t leave taps running or appliances switched on when you don’t need them.
  4. Most of the home stays unlike hotels do not have a huge housekeeping staff. So, please maintain hygiene and do not litter in your room or common areas.

BE A GUEST NOT A CUSTOMER..!

This article has also been published on blog of Homestays of India
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