Homestay accommodation connects travellers with locals who have a room, apartment or entire home to rent, and offers an authentic, affordable and unique holiday experience.
It's easy to search for and book accommodation online, ask your host questions and pay for your stay using a secure online system, often for much less than the cost of a hotel.
Here are eight tips for a great homestay holiday.
Read the reviews before you book
Look beyond the host's property description and photos, and read reviews from people who have actually stayed there. My family were all set to book an apartment until we noticed everyone mentioned the street's lively nightlife. Party people would love it. Us? Not so much.
Checking out your potential host's profile and reading the comments and ratings they have given past guests is a good idea as well. Do they seem friendly, fair and reasonable?
Flexibility is king
Look for companies with clear cancellation policies and added features that provide peace of mind. Click "Free Cancellation" when you're searching on Bookabach and you'll find accommodation with flexible policies just in case your travel plans change.
Don't leave it too late
The best and most affordable places often book out quickly, sometimes six to 12 months in advance, so start researching early and book sooner rather than later.
If you do leave it late, opt for a convenient location rather than the cheapest deal. It is much better if your homestay is close to the attractions you want to visit. There's not much point saving $20 a night when you're spending the same amount (and all your time) getting where you need to go each day.
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Know the rules
Check the booking conditions at each property before you book. Check in and check out times can vary significantly and it is unlikely you'll be able to store luggage at your accommodation if you have a late flight.
Some homestays ask you to set a time to meet for a key handover, which can be tricky if you're in transit. A homestay with a key safe you can access on arrival or an owner who lives onsite or nearby offers more flexibility.
Check response times before booking
Send your host a question prior to booking. A lengthy response time could mean a similar long wait for help if there is a problem while you're at their apartment. If you lock yourself out or something important like the toilet stops working, there is usually only one person who can help - and that's your host.
One of the great things about renting a room at a homestay is you get to interact one-on-one with a local. Does your host seem welcoming and do you think you'll get on? This is particularly important if you're staying at their house as you could be spending quite a bit of time together.
Remember your host is not on holiday
If you're renting a room in someone's home, remember your host is not on holiday. Be considerate of their schedule and try to avoid monopolising the kitchen when they're in a rush to get out the door.
Embrace the experience
When you stay in homestay accommodation, you may find yourself in a town or suburb that caters for locals rather than tourists. This gives you an opportunity to involve yourself more fully in a community instead of simply being an observer. Embrace the experience - and be willing to forgive the occasional glitch - and you will enjoy it much more.