Home-Stay, as simple as this word means, in the actual grand of things, it means a lot. A homestay is a private house, owned by locals in which the family residents resides, and they accommodate guests in their houses. If you are an avid traveler, then you must be familiar with the concept of it. But as far as my social circle goes, not many people know about it, or have even heard about it. So today I will be introducing you to the concept of homestays, and the benefits of accommodating in one, for the owner and for you.
As I have said above, Homestay is a local home, run by local residents, in which they reside and accommodate guest into their houses. The concept has been on the rise in many of the village destination in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. It is also pushed by the government to promote village tourism in India, which will benefit the local economy of the village.
The concept of staying in someone else home is quite strange, and for most people discomforting when they think about it. A new experience for many people, as there has been a willing theme in most of the Indian families of staying in a hotel while traveling.
Why Homestay instead of Hotels
In a short period of my traveling, I have learned at least one thing that, traveling is about experiencing new things. It is a way to escape from your normal routine and to rejuvenate yourself by tapping into the unknown. Even in India, the concept of experiential traveling is on the rise, and it is getting creative by each season. The days of staying in a hotel, with a silent room and a flickering table lamp, is going away.
Staying in homestay takes you closest to the heart of the destination, which is its locals. “An authentic experience”, a phrase which must have heard by you at least once while you are traveling, it is only true when you stay in a homestay. The authenticity of the local’s compassion and feeling towards outsider is truly on display. The legendary tales and their willingness to learn new things from outsiders are astonishing. An hour talk with your homestay owner will give you more details about the destination, then a guide or internet. After staying in a homestay, you will truly learn what are the cons and pros of the place you have visited.
I have stayed at merely 4 or 5 homestays, but I can tell you one thing for sure, that it is an experience of a lifetime. Especially the village homestays are some of the most remarkable places to stay on your trip, the taste of locally grown food, and indulging in local activities is truly memorable.
Contribute to Village tourism and economy
This is probably one of the better reason for which I stay in homestays, especially in villages. The economy of many village households in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh depends upon tourism, but due to the influx of money from metropolitan cities, there has been shrewd development of hotels and guesthouses. Construction of these causes great harms to the economy of villagers which were sustained because of it.
As I have seen on my recent visit to Raithal Village, there are 8 homestays in the village and some of them rely heavily on it. The money coming into the villages of Uttarakhand is still not enough, and many villagers are just hanging about. One bad weather and all of their farmlands and crops are destroyed, and they have nothing to eat.
So due to the poor rural development, there are now 3,000 villages in Uttarakhand which are abandoned. Thus if you are staying in Homestays it will contribute massively to the rural economy, which will help them to live in a sustainable manner.
There are many excellent initiatives taken by individuals to contribute towards Village tourism, like Kalap Village, where homestays were built to retain the population living in the village and the benefits of tourism go directly to the villagers. Another story is of Sarmoli, Uttarakhand which is a village near Munsiyari. Here, homestays have been opened for receiving the benefits and promoting sustainable tourism.
Your support while traveling solo
If you have traveled solo before, then you know that there comes a time in your journey when homesickness or loneliness hits you. For what I have done to avoid this, is that I stay in homestays. There will always be someone whom you can talk to in a homestay, where you can sort out all your queries. The owners of homestays are always friendly towards their guests, and they will help you out in any situation.
They are cheap and worthy
Yes, homestays are absolutely cheap in comparison to hotels and even some hostels, because the are run by local families and not by some corporate chains. In the price of Rs 600-800, you will get a decent homestay which will include the cost of food. These prices may differ on the availability and the quality of accomodation.
Tips while choosing Homestays
A lot of people had asked me, how do you find so many good homestays? Well, answer is that, I just go to a village and start talking to locals, regarding availability of accommodation. Most of the time my query get sorted out. But if this looks too risky and fragile plan for you to board on, then I have got some solutions for you.
- Check online travel blogs: Blogs regarding destination, especially if it is a travel blog like slippery legs, then you will definitely get some information regarding the availability of homestays.
- Check Booking.com, Airbnb: Personally, I have never booked from any of them. But I have got to know the information on the availability of homestays.
- Hunt on the internet as much as you can. Search through google using keywords “homestays in ……….(destination)”.
- As soon as you reach the destination, start talking to locals and I am pretty sure, you will find one.
If you are confused abut which homestays then, here is a blog on Best Homestays in Uttarakhand to Stay.
So give a visit to a village of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh for your next weekend trip, and don’t forget to get accommodation in a homestay. It will definitely be one of the experiences of a lifetime which will change the way you travel.
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