LIVE WITH A LOCAL

10 Homestay Experiences

There's no faster way to connect with a new culture than by inviting yourself into someone else's house, whether it's a chic apartment in London's Notting Hill or a thatched-roof hut in southern Belize.

LONDON
So many foreigners pass through London that it can be tough to pinpoint the locals. At Home in London has been breaking the ice for nearly 25 years, placing guests with Londoners in apartments and historic town houses citywide. Pick the neighborhood that feels homiest to you: central Covent Garden, posh Belgravia, or hipster Notting Hill, among others.
Planning and pricing Expect to pay $113 per night for two, including breakfast and taxes, or as little as $28 per night for single-occupancy rooms rented for longer than a week in the Hammersmith neighborhood, with a deposit in advance and the balance upon arrival in the family home. Mid-range options ($135 per night for two with breakfast) can feel surprisingly luxurious. Some homes require a minimum two-week stay; most have private bathrooms and Wi-Fi. Browse the full catalog online.
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JAPAN
Homestay in Japan works with some 1,000 hosts, from young Tokyo professionals to traditional rural families. Stays are organized through the philosophy of kikkake (cultural immersion), so be prepared to make the jump across the language barrier. No prior language experience is required, but very few hosts speak English, and you'll be expected to make an effort to fumble through conversations in Japanese over shared meals and outings.
Planning and pricing Homestay in Japan guides guests through the whole process from cultural orientation before arrival to emergency support on-site. Prices start at $45 per person per night (with one or two meals), plus a $170 arrangement and orientation fee. Japanese houses tend to be considerably smaller than American ones and few have private bathrooms.
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BELIZE
When you book through Toucan Trail, you'll be welcomed into a Mayan village as an equal—and expected to pitch in as one, too, whether that means working in the cornfields, washing clothes, or preparing meals of corn-flour tortillas, beans, fish, and meat. The 20 or so host families (across three villages) live in one- or two-room palm-thatched adobe houses with shared outhouses, so there's little privacy.
Planning and pricing Pay a one-off $2 administration fee and a $5 registration fee, plus $6 per person per night and $2.50 per meal upon arrival in Belize. There's local bus service between Punta Gorda and the participating villages of Aguacate, San Jose, and Na Luum Ca.
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MAE HONG SON, THAILAND
Tell Tale Travel can place you with a Lahu family of subsistence farmers for two to 14 days in the rain-forest-shrouded hills of the Mae Hong Son province. Prepare to get a crash course in traditional handicrafts and tilling the soil. It's not all hard work, though—optional guided excursions include forest treks and visits to nearby sacred caves. You'll live as your hosts do, sleeping on mats on bamboo floors, with outhouse bathrooms.
Planning and pricing Prices start at $100 per person per night, including guides, transport to and from the village, all meals, cultural activities, and excursions. Guides speak English, but villagers do not.
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HOME SWEET HOME

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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