While India continues to develop as a hotbed for travel and tourism, accommodation in hotels and holiday apartments is becoming increasingly expensive for travellers… And thus, the India homestay is becoming an increasingly common accommodation option for Western backpackers and holidaymakers, who are commonly charged just £5 a night for meals and a bed, so holidays of this sort in India, together with flights and travel insurance compare now to a stay in somewhere like, say, Thailand.
What exactly is a homestay?
While the practice of Indian families renting rooms in their own homes out to travellers is a little-known one here in the West, the system has existed in towns and cities over there for many, many years.
The homestay was born when parents who wanted the combination of safe lodging and supervision when sending them off to a far-away university or job, but didn’t have any friends or relatives in that particular town or city to house them with.
Young Western travellers and veteran India explorers alike have come to realise that many of the homes that offer spare rooms are fairly opulent, and this sort of accommodation can therefore offer the kind of unparalleled luxury, culture and life experience that other types of accommodations simply cannot.
The low rent reflects the fact that because you’ll be staying with an Indian family, you’re subject to their cultural and house rules, although Western lodgers will often be cut some slack, and you’ll be able to meet somewhere in the middle with them.You’ll also probably find that you’ll also be offered an in-your-face experience of Indian family life, which is almost always raucous and can be wonderfully dramatic.
However, that said, these aren’t negative points – they’re simply points that you as a Western traveller should be aware of so that you can make prior adjustments in your expectations for any cultural discrepancies you’re likely to encounter. Apart from the fact that this is an exceptionally cheap way to see a country, it’s also exceptionally authentic and culturally rich – often, much richer than the experience of your average backpacker.
How can I find a homestay family?
One of the best places to find a family for an India homestay is IndiaMike.com – anything that’s posted there will be a recommendation from someone who has experienced the accommodation first-hand – nothing’s advertorial, and that’s absolutely the only way you should go about finding a nice family to stay with. Another good idea is for you to enter “paying guest [+ destination name]” into your search engine, or visiting homestay-specific websites such as keralaconnections.co.uk, homeandhospitality.co.uk, payingguests.com andmahindrahomestays.com.