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Hostels VS Homestays: What’s the Difference?

Hostels and homestays are two popular options for budget-conscious travelers looking for unique accommodation experiences. While they may seem similar, they have some key differences that cater to different types of trips or people.


Looking for a temporary social atmosphere on your solo trip? Hostels are dormitory-style accommodations with bunk beds, shared rooms, and communal spaces like bathrooms and kitchens. Many hostels also offer more private rooms at a higher price, but these are still typically shared with other solo travelers. Even then, the price of staying at a hostel every night ($25-70) is much lower than staying at a hotel ($100-250) – money that you could save to see more attractions and dine at authentic local restaurants.

It is a great option if you are eager to meet and interact with other solo travelers from across the world, eat meals and take tours together, and explore the local area. Hostels are usually located in sight-seeing city centers and are often run by independent operators who host free hostel activities that serve as a great bonding experience.

solo travelers gathering in hostel
Image by International Student

The dorm-style living, however, comes with some drawbacks to consider. Aside from the noise and less privacy, many hostels are not able to provide towels, sheets, or other amenities since there are so many people. It is also more crowded, so there is limited space to relax.

Naturally, all solo travelers have different lifestyles, which means adjusting to their various sleep schedules, hygiene habits, and personalities may become tiresome. Though most hostels provide some form of locker to keep your belongings, there is still a chance that your possessions are stolen in the midst of all the luggage.

Booking a hostel is like a gamble for the right college roommates, but if you’re feeling a little adventurous and eager to meet other solo travelers like yourself, hostels can be a rewarding option.


Homestays are exactly what they sound like; guests stay on the couch (or rarely, private rooms for luxury stays) within a host family’s home and have access to shared living spaces like the kitchen or living room. While hostels are focused on meeting other solo travelers, homestays are focused on meeting locals and experiencing the local culture firsthand, including chances to practice your foreign language skills with native speakers.

It is a unique opportunity to have an intimate relationship with the community and learn your host family’s way of life. Some homestays provide simple accommodations with a local family while others have more upscale options that include authentic meals and other amenities.

female solo traveler being hosted in homestay
Image by IDP Global

Additionally, since you are staying in a local's home, you are more likely to be in a quieter, residential area than in the center of a busy tourist area where hostels are usually located. The laid-back and one-on-one atmosphere in a homestay creates a peaceful environment for sleeping and privacy in the midst of a busy day for a solo traveler. Of course, this depends on the host, the area, and the time of the year, so be sure to check with the host before booking.

Unlike hostels, where you are placed with random assortments of strangers, homestays offer greater security of your belongings and you will have some knowledge of the host’s background before you move in. For other safety tips, check out Globesisters's recommendations for female solo travelers.

The drawbacks of homestays are very similar to that of hostels. You will be exposed to unfamiliar house rules and customs that you need to respect and give up a degree of independence since you are living in someone else’s private home. Chances to meet other solo travelers are lower, although direct sight-seeing recommendations from local residents will give you opportunities to meet new people and gain an inside experience in the neighborhood.

Homestays are the gateway to a truly authentic solo traveling experience. Homestays outside of Globesisters can be a little expensive, but Globesisters offers a membership plan with a monthly fee that gives you access to a whole network of hosts for free, driving down costs to be cheaper than even hostels! As a mobile app that facilitates the initial transaction to start your incredible journey, Globesisters allows solo travelers to choose from an array of host options tailored to the lifestyles that they specify upon registration.

Whether you opt for the more social hostels or the more immersive homestays, GlobeSisters will help you in your solo traveling adventure so you’ll never feel alone.


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