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Homestays and Hospitality Exchanges Abroad

Articles on Homestays and Hospitality Exchanges
Home Exchange Websites

Hospitality Exchanges
From left to right Servas hosts Beatrice and Jesus,
in Mexico with Servas traveler Aaron from California

Mahatma Ghandi once said that “with every true friendship we build more firmly the foundation on which the peace of the whole world rests.” In a time when world opinion of America is on the decline, fostering peace and understanding through building personal relationships is more important than ever. If you are planning to study, volunteer or travel abroad, consider staying with hosts and experience the places you visit on a deeper level, through participation in the daily lives of local people. — Julie Schumacher Cohen

 Hospitality Exchanges and Homestay Articles
Homestay Programs: Lay Down Your Head but Not a Lot of Cash by Tim Leffel
Servas: How to Travel and Build Peace at the Same Time by Julie Schumacher Cohen
The Real Portugal: Experience Tradition and Preserve the Countryside with Historic Homestays by Volker Poelzl

 Worldwide Hospitality Exchanges and Homestay Websites

Airbnb, with over 100,000,000 members, is the largest homestay network in the world. The service allows members to rent out their houses, apartments, rooms, or even a couch in exchange for pay. Members provide reviews for each other regarding their experiences at the accommodation. Searches are available using various criteria, including price, location, bedrooms, comforts, wifi, etc. Host and guests may interact variably, in some cases quite a bit, in other cases none. Fees are collected from the host and the guest, with provisions for damages to property on a case-by-case agreed-upon basis.

BeWelcome is a large free non-profit hospitality exchange allowing hosts and guests to connect from around the globe. The site allows a way to find members via a map on its website. Imagine arriving in a city or destination worldwide and having a host show you around, from a local restaurant to the local sites and activities.

Couchsurfing has over 10,000,000 members and is the largest free hospitality exchange organization worldwide, with access to its website and other excellent online tools for messaging and booking, sometimes including a small annual fee. The interaction between guests and hosts allows for reviews/references. Members often set up events and meetups worldwide in over 200,000 cities.

Cultural Homestay International is a non-profit public benefit organization founded in 1980 to promote international understanding, friendship, and goodwill through cultural homestays. The best way to eliminate fear and prejudice among nations is to experience directly the cultures, languages, and customs of the people by living with them. The program's emphasis is on educating the participating student, the volunteer host family, and the local community through communication and interaction in the home, the classroom, and the neighborhood.

Friendship Force International. Friendship Force members travel as Ambassadors from their home country to another country. Local Hosts welcome them into their homes, providing activities that reflect community life and local culture. After sharing friendship experiences, differences in language, race, creed, or politics become less important.

Homestay Finder offers student accommodations worldwide and is a top student placement guide based in the UK.

Servas Internationa is an international network of hosts and travelers building peace by providing opportunities for individual visits between people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.
During a typical homestay- usually 2 nights-, travelers participate in the daily lives of their host:

  • Discussing social concerns
  • Running errands
  • Cooking a meal
  • Visiting a school or lending a hand in a workplace

Worldpackers provides a unique community of volunteers who have significant contact with hosts. They believe cultural immersion in the local community, learning languages, acquiring new personal and practical skills, meeting locals and international travelers, traveling affordably, and making a positive impact, is best developed through contact with your hosts. All guests must do in exchange for accommodation, sometimes meals, or other activities is help your host a few hours a week with a wide variety of needed volunteer work.

WWOOF connects people directly to farms worldwide interested in having travelers stay and work for varying lengths of time. After paying a low membership fee, you receive a book listing all farms that accept volunteers, and you can contact the individual farmers directly to arrange start and end dates. As with organized camps, you receive room and board in exchange for your work. Like the work camp organizations, the farms are not just looking for cheap labor. Your presence and the culture you represent are just as significant as your work. WWOOF works only with farms devoted to organic production as well as to cultural exchange. Whether you choose satisfying manual work on a farm or more varied work at one or more international work camps, you’ll find that either is an inexpensive way to have an active, rich overseas travel experience.

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