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A homestay in Vietnam
Tibetan Argali Homestay, Tsokar, Ladakh

Homestay (also home stay and home-stay) is a form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors share a residence with a local of the area (host) to which they are traveling. The length of stay can vary from one night to over a year and can be provided for free (gift economy), in exchange for monetary compensation, in exchange for a stay at the guest's property either simultaneously or at another time (home exchange), or in exchange for housekeeping or work on the host's property (barter economy). Homestays are examples of collaborative consumption and the sharing economy.[1] Homestays are used by travelers; students who study abroad or participate in student exchange programs; and au pairs, who provide child care assistance and light household duties. They can be arranged via certain social networking services, online marketplaces, or academic institutions.[2]

Advantages and disadvantages[edit]

Homestays offer several advantages, such as exposure to everyday life in another location, the opportunity to experience local culture and traditions, opportunities for cultural diplomacy, friendship, intercultural competence, and foreign language practice, local advice, and a lower carbon footprint compared to other types of lodging; however, they may have rules and restrictions, such as curfews, facility usage, and work requirements, and may not have the same level of comfort, amenities, and privacy as other types of lodging.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Hospitality exchange services[edit]

Social networking services where hosts do not receive payments are called hospitality exchange services (HospEx).[10][11][12][13] The relationships on hospitality exchange services are shaped by altruism[14][15] and are related to the cyber-utopianism on the Web in its beginnings and to utopia in general.[16][17]

Non-profit hospitality exchange services have offered scientists access to their anonymized data for publication of insights to the benefit of humanity. Before becoming for-profit, CouchSurfing offered four research teams access to its social networking data.[18][19][20][21] In 2015, non-profit hospitality exchange services Bewelcome and Warm Showers also provided their data for public research.[22]

The biggest HospEx platform in 2012, "CouchSurfing appears to fulfil the original utopian promise of the Internet to unite strangers across geographical and cultural divides and to form a global community"[23] CouchSurfing used utopian rhetoric of "better world," "sharing cultures," and of much better access to global flows and networks of all sorts.[24] It was featured as a means to achieve a cosmopolitan utopia.[25] Commodification of CouchSurfing terminated "the existence of a project run as a flourishing commons, a cyber-utopian dream come true; an example of genuine exchange outside and free from the dominant logic of capital, a space highlighting cultural instead of monetary values, understanding instead of commerce. This space still exists, but instead of outside, now within the market."[16] After CouchSurfing became a for-profit corporation in 2011, some members urged others to join BeWelcome.[26][27][28] Many brand ambassadors, who had become volunteers within CouchSurfing left to BeWelcome and other non-profit platforms because of the change in legal status and insufficient management transparency.[29]

Notable social networking services and online marketplaces for homestay arrangement[edit]

Name Compensation to host Non-profit? Year founded Notes
9flats Monetary payment No 2010 9flats was launched by German internet entrepreneur Stephan Uhrenbacher – founder of Qype, and former head of northern European operations for[30] It has over 50,000 members and 30,000 hosts in 104 countries.[31]
Airbnb Monetary payment No 2008 Founded by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk in 2008, Airbnb is one of the largest networks for arranging homestays with over 6 million listings.[32]
BeWelcome None Yes 2007 Guests using BeWelcome do not pay for lodging or to access the platform. It is operated by a nonprofit organization organized as a voluntary association registered in Rennes, Brittany, France.[33][34][35][36][22] Monetary payment No 1996, homestays since 2015[37] has 6.2 million listings of homes, apartments and other unique places to stay.[38]
CouchSurfing None No 2004 Founded in 2004, guests using Couchsurfing do not pay for lodging, although users in many countries must pay a subscription fee to access the platform. The website, launched in 2004, was originally not for profit and built by volunteers, but changed to a for-profit structure in 2011.[39][40][41][42] This was an instance of commodification.[16][42][43]
Friendship Force International None Yes 1977 Presbyterian minister Wayne Smith and U.S. President Jimmy Carter established Friendship Force International, with the mission of improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, friendship, and intercultural competence via organized trips involving homestays.
Helpx Farm work / chores Yes 2001 Hosts provide food and lodging in exchange for up to 28 hours work per week. Some hosts will also provide day trips and transport. There is a €20 registration fee.[44] Home exchange No 2011 Members can either do reciprocal home exchanges or non-reciprocal exchanges using "guest points". Membership costs $175 per year.
Intervac International Home exchange No 1953 The first home exchange network. Membership costs $115 per year, although there is a free trial period.
misterb&b Monetary payment No 2014 A site for finding homestays that cater to gay men.
Pasporta Servo None Yes 1974 Pasporta Servo facilities free lodging for Esperanto speakers and was established from the work of psychologist Rubén Feldman González in Argentina. Access to the service and lodging are free; however, some hosts may request reimbursement of food costs.
Servas International None Yes 1949 Servas International is a volunteer-run international nonprofit organization advocating interracial and international peace.[1] People wishing to join SERVAS must supply letters of recommendation and be interviewed to ensure that they understand the purpose and protocol of being a Servas member, whether as a traveller or host. Members pay an annual fee to the organization, which is determined locally by country.[45]
Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust None Yes 2003 Via the Himalayan Homestay Program, people trekking in Ladakh can pay to stay in one of 130 village homes. This brings much-needed additional income to villagers, helping them offset livestock loss by snow leopards.
ThirdHome Home exchange No 2010 Focused on luxury homes.
The Jolly Guest None No 2021 Free and verified home exchanges.
Trustroots None Yes 2014 facilitates free lodging for "circles" of people with common interests such as hitchhikers, nomads, dumpster divers, vegans and vegetarians, hikers, eco-living, food sharing, cyclists, musicians, artists, spirituality, yoga, dancers, and other groups.
Vrbo Monetary payment No 1995 Listings of homestays and other vacation rental properties.
Warm Showers None Yes 1993 Warm Showers is a non-profit homestay platform for traveling cyclists. It has over 173,000 members, including 114,000 hosts.[46] Registration requires payment of a one-time $30 registration fee.[47]
WWOOF Farm work / chores Yes 1971 WWOOF ("Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms") is a network in which food, lodging, and education is provided to guests in exchange for housekeeping and farmworker services.[48] Registration costs $40 per year.[49]
Workaway Farm work / chores Yes 2002 Volunteers or "Workawayers", contribute a pre-agreed amount of time per day in exchange for lodging and food provided by their host.[50]
Hospitality Club (defunct) None Unknown 2000 Currently defunct, in 2008, this website was one of the largest platforms for finding free homestays.[51]
Host A Sister None Yes 2019 Facebook group offering free accommodation for women as part of cultural exchange.
Travel Ladies None Unknown 2020 Women-only travel app (iOS/Android) offering free hospitality exchange.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

  • Media related to Homestays at Wikimedia Commons