Your accommodations are some of the most important things to take care of when you travel. There are plenty of modern homestay websites that let you search for people to house you in a certain area. Instead of paying for accommodation, you get to stay with them for free, though you might be expected to make a meal one night. Free accommodation might sound good, but there's more than one catch.
Here are just four reasons you should use a hostel instead.
1. No Dodgy Conditions
Homestays are usually fine, but you never quite know what you're getting into until you arrive. Could be you're stuck sleeping on a lumpy old couch. Maybe your room doesn't feel quite as private as you would have liked. You can't really complain since you're staying for free, and it's not like hosts need to keep to certain standards to protect their income. With a hostel, you're pretty much guaranteed a good standard of hygiene and a comfortable bed. Hostels aren't luxurious, but they are at least reliable.
2. No Sense of Obligation
Many homestay hosts will expect to hang out with you a little during your trip. That's usually why they host, to meet people from other parts of the world. Problem is, that can become a little grating when you don't end up liking your host too much. You'll feel an obligation to spend time with them, even when you don't want to. In a hostel, you have as much or as little contact with people as you want. If you hit it off, you could have friends for life; if you don't, just head out and see more of your destination.
3. Help from Experts
One of the much-vaunted benefits of homestays is people being able to hang out with a local. In theory, they'll best be able to show you around the place. Thing is, the people working in a hostel will know a lot more; after all, it's their job to know. If you need to find out about the best deals for local attractions or the best public transportation routes, hostel staff will know more than your homestay hosts. Better yet, most hostels offer deals with local businesses. That could mean anything from discounted scuba lessons in Cairns to free drinks in Brisbane.
4. Your Own Schedule
Homestay hosts generally need you to work around their schedule. For their own safety and security, you normally won't get a set of keys, so you'll need to come home at certain times to be let in. Most hosts won't like you staying out late at night since they'll have to open the door for you. With a hostel, you can come back at almost any time and find a staff member ready to help you out.