Should I do an International homestay?
For two weeks while I was in Guatemala I stayed with a family in order to learn Spanish, crack on with some work, explore the area I was staying in and chill. This is my experience of an international homestay and why you should consider it too.
“Home is where your story begins.”
While many dream of travelling the world and I will continue with that endeavour, I still very much have the bug. The chance of somewhere to call home, to have somewhere to return to, to have my own room, to have three home cooked meals a day and have a place to belong in somewhere that would be otherwise be unfamiliar, only added to my travelling adventures. Here are the main reasons someone travelling should consider an international homestay:
International homestay and yet feeling at home:
This for me was the biggest reason, while its all good and well staying in a hostel, exploring cities, towns and beaches for the period of time in-between that exploration it was so nice to be able to have somewhere to call home. To meander through the town centre knowing my way round, and knowing I had somewhere that I could call home in the town, I just liked the idea of returning home, if only for a few weeks.
International homestay and the food:
The food was out of this world. Melinda’s food was incredible. She made home made stocks, salsas and tortillas everyday. She took pride in making traditional Guatamalan food and was damn good at it. Staying in a hostel or hotel you’re getting such traditional food but also, at the end of the day it’s generally quite unhealthy. It was nice to come home to a healthy, home cooked meal, it was similar to being back at school when I was 16. Also not thinking about my next meal, the cost, when I had to make it, made everything super relaxing.
International homestay and the culture:
I was completely immersed in there way of life and learnt so much more than I would have otherwise. Speaking to there friends and the family over the dinner table on religion, food, crime rates and how there country operates. It also helped me to familiarise myself with costs in Guatemala so I knew what I should be getting for the rest of my trip.
International homestay and helping to keep food on the table for an otherwise near bread line family:
When you choose a homestay, especially in places around Latin America and Asia you are helping them to sustain being able to put food on the table, clothes of the backs of the children and allowing the children to go to school who may otherwise have to work without your stay.
International homestay and the integration in the community:
My home for two weeks was in the area the locals live and a ‘gringo’ wasn’t common. In the local shop they would talk to me, in the Garage they wanted a chat, one of my Saturdays here was spent with a local who’s english was as equally as poor as my Spanish but she showed me areas of San Pedro I would never have known about. It was warm and so welcoming, as compared to staying in a tourist ridden area when you are keeping a second eye on yours bags, on occasion getting weary resentful looks and waiting to be mugged off with everything you decide to buy.
International homestay and saving a s*@t tonne of money:
Looking back for the two weeks I was there I probably saved around £125/$163 on food and accommodation because I chose a homestay. They are rock bottom prices. If you are a group of friends and are happy to have a few days to yourself, doing homestay will save you a shed tonne of money travel wise. Compared to a hotel?! You are saving SO much money. It cost for my accommodation and three meals a day £70 for the week.
International homestay and a truly personal service:
Because they don’t have hundreds of people staying at any one time the experience you get it truly personal. I am allergic to wheat and for the entire two weeks, it was meals with no wheat. If I were to stay in a hostel I would be either cooking myself of picking out of the two to three dishes I could eat on the menu. One evening I was unwell, they provided me with a local tea known to help my ailments along with some paracetamol and allowed me to change the breakfast time so I could sleep as I had a bad night. You cannot get that at a hotel or hostel.
International homestay and having that feeling of a one in a million experience:
The room I had was basic, the bathroom I had was basic. Why? Because this is what is the general level of quality in every house in the village was, that I was staying in. I knew it at the time and I still know now that this time will hold a large place in my memory and a great part of my travels. Before travelling I would have never wanted to do homestay, now- I will aim to hunt them out as much as possible when I travel.
International homestay and having your own space:
While my home didn’t have a bar or a a pool like some of the hostels I have stayed in, I had my own room for two weeks. It was large with a desk and shelves for my belongings. Getting all my stuff out my bag, making it my own space was a nice change after weeks of simply having a bed and a locker. Also I knew what I had for two weeks, rushing every four or five days to a new hostel or hotel you never know what you’re getting. If you have been doing hostels for months and want a chance to get your stuff out have your own space but can’t deal with the prices of individual hostel or hotel rooms, do a homestay.
Are you looking to stay in San Pedro, Guatemala? Why you should consider an international homestay with Familia Rodriguez if you are visiting Guatemala.
I found my homestay via a friend on my travels who recommended the family to me. I asked one evening why more people aren’t staying, they have six rooms and I was the only one staying here. This didn’t bother me at all, quite the opposite, I wanted to learn the Spanish language, be immersed in family life and mostly, chill. However, I later found out over a broken conversation in Spanish the mother of the home once had many connections with hostels and language schools in the area. It was going well, she was known to be (and still is) a fantastic host. However three years ago she lost the sight in her left eye. She can still cook, clean and helped me wherever necessary but because of this problem she was wiped from the recommendation list of all schools and hostels she was previously in contact with. She has taken on the care of her thirteen year old grand-daughter, Melany, due to her parents not being able to take proper care of her, (something to do with Melany’s dad and the bottle) so there is no man of the household to provide money, this is there income in order to survive. She also has health ailments in a town with the costs of medicine only increasing because of the increase of tourism.
A few morning towards the end, once Melany had dashed off with her friends Meli, the Grandma, would tell me she slept badly because she was worrying about money. She even confided in me that when they got the message from me that I wanted to stay they immediately went to church to gives thanks. It was an incredibly sad thing to witness, so I stayed an extra five days just so I could give them more money. If you are considering a homestay whether to learn a language or for any other reasons above please stay with this family. You’re help allows Melany to stay in school and Melinda to put food on the table for the both of them. There contact email is here. (She is 13, forgive her email): (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Want to know more about my time in Guatemala? Check out my page: