Stay With LocalsTips, Tricks & Stories
Do you know why this website is called The Social Travel Experiment?
No? Then let me tell you!
The original idea behind this website, and my trip around the world is my wish to meet locals while traveling. And to teach other travelers how to do the same.
While planning for my RTW trip I found different ways to travel the world more socially, the best one, in my opinion, is to stay with locals.
In this section, I am sharing all my experiences meeting and staying with locals during my travels, including tips on where you can find locals to stay with, and what to do once you have found a willing host.
How to Stay with Locals
My number one resource is a list of 14 websites that let you stay with locals all over the world.
You will find not only the obvious websites, like Couchsurfing where you can stay with locals for free. I also included websites that offer an exchange of labor for accommodation, which is a great opportunity to get to know how people in a country work and live. Of course, there are also paid opportunities to stay with locals, such as Airbnb.
I had one of the most authentic and unique homestay experiences staying in Kyoto for a couple of months while I was attending a language school. In my post ‘How to have an authentic and unique homestay in Japan’, I share with you what you need to do to have an amazing homestay experience anywhere in the world.
Stay with Locals Using Couchsurfing
Probably the most famous hospitality exchange network is Couchsurfing. It was also the first website I found when I started my research on the topic. If you aren’t familiar with Couchsurfing or want to know in detail how the platform works, read this post.
Because just hearing about my experiences is a bit one-sided I asked other people about their past experiences with Couchsurfing. Here is what they had to say.
Sometimes it can be frustrating finding a host on Couchsurfing. I have a couple of tips for you on how to get more responses from potential hosts. Learn how to write a personal Couchsurfing request.
Stay with Locals Using Airbnb
I assume almost everyone on the internet has heard about Airbnb by now. There has been a lot of negative news over the years because so many apartments are now used exclusively to welcome Airbnb guests.
But in my opinion that is not how you should be using Airbnb anyways. I only book Airbnbs where I can stay at someone’s home.
Even if the interaction is usually less than when I stay with someone using Couchsurfing or Servas, it is still great to have a local person close by to ask questions and to get recommendations from.
My posts about Airbnb will teach you how I stay with locals using the website, and how I find these real locals using the search function.
Stay with Locals Using Servas
Servas is a hospitality network I found just before I started on my round the world trip. And I love it so much.
It is way better than Couchsurfing in many aspects. This post contains all the information you need to decide whether Servas is for you or not. And if you decide you want to sign up I have all the information on how to do it.
Everything Else You Need to Know About Staying with Locals
Below you can find the posts that might help you after you have found your first host through whatever network.
The titles all say Couchsurfing, but I think the below three posts are applicable for any form of homestay.
First off, a quick reminder on how to behave when staying in someone’s home.
Next a useful guide for gift ideas, or other ways on how to show you are grateful to your host.
And last a useful list on what to pack if you are planning a weekend trip using Couchsurfing.
Lena is the creator of the Social Travel Experiment. Planning her trip around the world took a lot of effort. To make it easier for future world travelers she has made it her mission to teach others how to have an unforgettable trip around the world, through short stays with locals, without wasting valuable time or money.