Each with its own charm, hostels, couchsurfing and homestays have become popular stay options while travelling, as opposed to the regular hotel stay. Being cost-effective is one of the major reasons why travellers these days are moving towards these alternative accommodation options. Solo travellers especially prefer one of these options because it allows them to get up close and personal with the local way of life, while meeting and greeting people from difference backgrounds and ethnicities.
Here's a brief look at what hostels, homestays and couchsurfing are all about.
A hostel is a shared accommodation, where you are allocated a room along with at least one more person. Most hostels have bunk beds to accommodate more than 3-4 people in a room, with a shared washroom, living area and kitchenette at times. This set up allows people from difference walks of lives and cultures to come together and make new friends. Staying in a hostel is a truly fulfilling experience as this is where you can get to know about many different cultures at once through your interactions with other travellers staying at the hostel.
A homestay is also a budget option for solo travellers, and allows you way more privacy than a hostel. While there are no roommates in this set up, it is about staying in a room in a running household which may or may not be occupied by the host’s family. It usually has all basic amenities for you and also offers meals if that’s included in your booking. In case you have any special dietary or other requirements, you can check with the host in advance if those can be made available. Staying at a homestay is a wonderful way to live life like the locals in a new city, and to learn more about the local culture and the city’s hotspots from the host. It brings you to closer to the local way of life more than any other form of accommodation does.
The concept of couchsurfing is slightly similar to a homestay, wherein you stay at a host’s home but at no cost! Definitely a popular choice for solo travellers on a shoestring budget, this is different from homestays in the sense that you’re expected to interact with the hosts like you would while visiting (and staying) with family and friends. The setting is a little less formal here, and you are offered a ‘couch’ or a spare bedroom in the host’s house for the duration of your stay. This is a great way to connect with like-minded people and both (the host and the guest) should be willing to offer enough space to each other, while simultaneously building a bond. The sky is the limit when it comes to strengthening this bond – you can head out to popular restaurants together, go shopping to places the host recommends, head out to experience the less touristy parts of the city, et al.
So, what’s the ideal choice for a solo traveller?
The answer varies from individual to individual and the right accommodation choice while travelling depends on what your personality type is. Are you an extrovert, always looking for chances to interact with people or would you rather prefer your personal space while travelling? Are you open to embracing new ways of living (that could be completely different from what you have ever experienced) or are you not the one who would explore the offbeat? Here are our recommendations:
Hostels, if you’re the outgoing, extrovert type. This accommodation option is for the solo traveller who looks forward to meet people and make friends with folks from all over the world, thus getting to know about different cultures and ways of life.
Homestays, if you’re a culture vulture. This stay option is perfect is you love to soak in the local vibe of the city you’re in. While homestays give you a chance to get up close and personal with what the local life is and go beyond the touristy, it also gives you the privacy you need.
Couchsurfing, if you’re the experimental type and have a spark of adventure in you. You need to be willing to take risks, establish trust and be open to embrace the different ways of living of people, at the same time moulding yourself so as to make the host feel comfortable too.