It’s nerve-wracking to be the guest of the house. Both you and the hostess are each trying to leave good first impressions. As the guest, being in a new environment, subject to new house rules and new standards of living, is strange but exciting. The same goes for being a host and inviting what might as well be a new family member.
Here are some common questions with suggested answers for guests to think about for their next homestay.
Should I tell my host about my whereabouts all the time?
A great part of solo traveling is having the time to embark on adventures and spend some time by yourself. Even though you are staying under a hostess’s couch, you deserve your privacy.
That being said, it is important to respect every host or host family’s curfews. Since hosts have partial responsibility for the guest’s wellbeing, it is crucial to reciprocate their concerns by ensuring you return home by a designated time and spare your host the extra worry about your safety.
Try to match your host’s schedule and you will find your homestay experience to be much smoother and natural. Sharing your location with your host is also an added safety measure for when you are exploring local places for the first time. Here are some more safety tips to consider on your trip.
So, no, you don’t have to tell your host about where you are going all the time, but you’re only off the hook unless you place the burden of your safety on your host.
How can I best enjoy meals with my host?
Eating meals with your host or host family is a great way to bond with them and experience local culture. None of the meals are mandatory, but getting to know each other over a hearty home-cooked meal after a long journey alone is very refreshing. Going back to the tip about matching your host’s schedule, you should learn about her general meal times and habits early in your stay.
Don’t make your host do all the work! Offer a helping hand in the kitchen, and it will help you learn new recipes, traditions, and your host’s way of life. What better way to reciprocate that than by cooking for your host too. You exchange a piece of your culture with each other through this intimate experience.
Brush up on local or cultural meal habits through extensive prior research. For example, it is rude to leave your chopsticks or utensils sticking out from your rice bowl in Chinese culture. Avoid making these small mistakes that could cause your host discomfort, as well as any stereotypes you may run into during your research. The Internet will tell you, for instance, that slurping is a sign of appreciation for the cook’s dishes in China, but this is largely debunked by some Chinese households in the United States.
There’s also no harm in giving your host as much information beforehand as possible: put your allergies and favorite cuisines in your biography on Globesisters and chat about it with the host before you decide to stay with them.
How often should I spend time with my host?
It depends on the host’s lifestyle. Some hosts may have to run daily errands and simply not have enough time to spend with you. Other hosts might be around 24-7. On your GlobeSisters profile, you can see the usual availability of a host so you have an idea of how much time you can expect to spend with them.
Adapt as much as possible to her schedule. If your host makes time for you in their day, respect her efforts and respond positively. Communication is the best way to know if the hosts would love to do some activities together. Share stories with each other; part of Globesisters’ mission is to allow hosts to live vicariously through her guest’s travels as well. The more you interact with your host, the more pleasant and natural your relationship will become.
That does not mean you are expected to be with your host every hour of the day. Making friends in the local community is a great way to expand your horizons. Just like how you make friends outside of your own family, meeting other people outside of your host family creates a healthy and expansive network and emphasizes the independence of solo traveling.
How reserved should I be or can I make myself at home?
Every host has a set of house rules that you must follow. Yes, the host is here to help you satisfy your traveling goals, but you are staying on her property.
That being said, you are not confined to your couch or your room. Globesisters hosts want to talk to you and make you feel comfortable and free. On the first day, you should flush out:
Allowed personal habits
Discouraged habits (like shower/bathroom etiquette, mealtime etiquette, clean-up)
Host’s schedule of availability vs your schedule of availability
Everything you can or cannot use in the bathroom and kitchen
This can all be easily accomplished through a thorough tour of the house. Once you have a list of spaces you are allowed to freely roam, it is also important to make sure you aren’t monopolizing that common area for yourself. Couchsurfers, for instance, should know that even though their couch is in the living room, the living room is not their personal room.
What should I look out for when cleaning up?
Keeping your belongings and living space tidy is the golden rule of being a good guest. When clearing out of the house or when you finish doing something, think about everything you need to clean up (kitchen counter, bathroom, fold the blanket after you wake up). A good way to ensure that the space looks the same is to take a picture of your living place before you settle in and recreate it before you leave.
All of these give signs to your host that you respect her and her house. At the end of the day, the host shouldn’t have to clean up after you a single time during your stay. It should feel almost as if you were never physically there (but of course, the emotional benefits will be with you and your host forever).
What if I am unhappy with the accommodations/resources the host gives me?
There is a difference between being uncomfortable and unsatisfied. Being uncomfortable or even feeling threatened is a legitimate concern that you should plan ahead for. Ensure that you have a plan B if a host is being rude
to you or making you feel unsafe.
All Globesisters hosts are screened and operate under the common goal of empowering female-identifying solo travelers. Guests will have the opportunity to chat with the host to determine whether you are a good fit for each other. We believe that communication is key in the homestay experience.
On the other hand, being unsatisfied with the available accommodations is a different sentiment. You may be used to the comfort of the lifestyle you grew up in, but it is important to realize that not everyone may live the same way you do. Homestays and couchsurfing are NOT like living in hotels. You should not expect the same personal service or luxury accommodations. This is about adapting to your host’s and the community’s authentic lifestyle to add flavor to your solo journey.
Should I bring a gift to my host?
At the end of the day, this is a great way to show your gratitude to your host for accommodating you in their home and showing you the local culture. It doesn’t have to be – and sometimes preferably shouldn’t be – something too extravagant. A postcard, dinner at a restaurant, a local souvenir, or even a possession obtained from your travels are all wonderful and very personal gifts that bring you ever closer to your host. Gifts are not only great departing gestures but also great welcome items to open up initial introductions with your host.
For ideas on what to give your hostess, check out this article by People on “The 28 Best Hostess Gifts of 2023.”
There are plenty of other questions you should ask yourself as a guest outside of this brief list.
Hosts at Globesisters help their guests navigate through all those questions through a personalized matching process to ensure you are the best fit for each other. We place a high value on communication with our app’s chat features so guests never go into the homestay blind. We are here for you, your comfort, and ultimately your unique solo-traveling journey.