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A homestay in Vietnam
Tibetan Argali Homestay, Tsokar, Ladakh

Homestay is a popular form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors share a residence with a local of the city to which they are traveling. The length of stay can vary from one night to over a year and can be provided gratis (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]

Farm stays are a type of a homestay, in which the visitor stays on a working farm.

The terms of the homestay are generally worked out by the host and guest in advance and can include items such as the type of lodging, length of stay, housekeeping or work required to be performed, curfews, use of utilities and household facilities, food to be provided, and rules related to smoking, drinking, and drugs.

Homestays offer several advantages such as exposure to everyday life in another location, opportunity to live a local's life in a way of experiencing the culture and tradition, 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 restrictions such as curfews and work requirements and may not have the same level of comfort, amenities, and privacy as other types of lodging.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Independent travelers typically arrange homestays via social networking services.[7] Homestays can also be arranged by academic institutions (for their students that study abroad or participate in student exchange programs).[9]

A family that hosts a non-family member is a host family. Hosts can also be involved in au pair programs in which a long-term guest stays with a family who provides accommodation in return for child care assistance and light household duties. Au pairs are treated as part of the family and participate in their day-to-day family routines.


Category Non-profit Unknown For-profit
Hosts do not expect
to receive payment
BeWelcome, Pasporta Servo, Servas International, Trustroots,
Warm Showers, Welcome To My Garden
Hospitality Club CouchSurfing
Hosts receive
farm work / chores
WWOOF Helpx Workaway
Hosts receive
monetary payment
9flats, Airbnb,

Hospitality exchange services[edit]

Services, where hosts do not receive payments are a special case — there are called hospitality exchange services (HosPex).[10][11][12] Hospitality exchange services are basically social network services for arrangement of accommodation during travel.[13] The relationships on hospitality exchange services are shaped by altruism.[14][15] Therefore, these organisation are usually non-profit, registered under .org-domains, built up by volunteers and use open-source software. The conversion of the biggest of hospitality exchanges services Couchsurfing to a for-profit corporation in 2011 was objected to by many of its members.[16][17][18] This was an instance of commodification.[19] Couchsurfing had previously been financed by donations and built using volunteer work.[16][20] Non-profit hospitality exchange services offer trustworthy teams of scientists access to their anonymized data for publication of insights to the benefit of humanity. Before becoming for-profit, Couchsurfing offered 4 research teams access to its social networking data.[21][22][23][24] In 2015, non-profit hospitality exchange services Bewelcome and Warm Showers also provided their data for public research.[25]

HosPex platforms are related to the cyber-utopianism on the Web in its beginnings and to utopia in general.[19][26] 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"[27] Couchsurfing used utopian rhetoric of "better world", "sharing cultures" and of much better access to global flows and networks of all sorts.[28] It was featured as a means to achieve a cosmopolitan utopia.[29] 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."[19]


In 1949, Bob Luitweiler founded Servas International as a volunteer-run international nonprofit organization advocating interracial and international peace.[1]

In 1965, John Wilcock set up the Traveler's Directory as a listing of his friends willing to host each other when traveling.[30] In 1988, Joy Lily rescued the organization from imminent shutdown, forming Hospitality Exchange.

In 1966, psychologist Rubén Feldman González created Programo Pasporto for Esperanto speakers in Argentina. In 1974, with the help of Jeanne-Marie Cash, it became Pasporta Servo and published its first membership directory, which listed 40 hosts.

In 1971, Sue Coppard founded WWOOF ("Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms"), a network in which food, lodging, and education is provided to guests in exchange for housekeeping and farmworker services.

In 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.

In 1992, was launched online; it later was folded into Hospitality Club,[31] created in 2000 by Veit Kühne.

In 1993, the database of Warm Showers was created by Terry Zmrhal and Geoff Cashmen. In 2005, it was launched as a website by Randy Fay.

In 2003, Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, a not-for-profit organization based in Ladakh, India, pioneered the conservation-linked homestays, whereby trekkers, while trekking in the mountains, stay in village homes instead of camping. This brings much needed additional income to villagers that help them offset livestock loss to snow leopards.

In 2004, Casey Fenton founded CouchSurfing, in which accommodation is offered gratis. Beginning in March 2020, the website charges users a period membership fee.

In 2007,[32] BeWelcome was formed by members of Hospitality Club who had had a disagreement with its founder.[33]

In 2008, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia founded Airbnb, where hosts receive monetary payment from guests, paid online in advance, and Airbnb receives commissions from each transaction.

In 2011, Couchsurfing being previously non-profit was turned into a for-profit corporation.[34][35]

In 2014, Trustroots was founded by Kasper Souren and Mikael Korpela in Berlin, Germany.[36]


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  3. ^ Green, Molly (January 30, 2016). "How a Homestay Will Make Your Experience Abroad Richer". HuffPost.
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External links[edit]