Monthly Archives: February 2012

How to save money on your travels

Gay Homestays is all about saving people money when they’re travelling, and making sure they have a great time. Holidays can be expensive, and you don’t want to have to scrimp when it comes to enjoying yourself. So what can you do to make sure you have a good time, but don’t feel glum about overspending when you get back? Here are our tips for a happy holiday.

1. It starts before you even get there. Airports are huge honey traps – you have to wait there for ages, and there are loads of shiny things to buy, not to mention the food, which is hugely overpriced. Make sure you don’t cut into your foreign currency before you even get there by taking a magazine to keep you busy, and snacks to keep you full.

2. Check the extra baggage costs for your flight. The cheaper flights often charge extra for anything on top of hand luggage. Can you travel light? If so, just take hand luggage. Don’t fill up suitcases with bulky beach towels – you can pick up towels really cheap when you arrive, and just leave them there. Cheaper than £20 per bag on a plane!

3. Do your research before you go. We all love thinking about what we’re going to do on holiday, so put your daydreaming to good use. Check out the Lonely Planet guides or restaurant guides online to find the cheapest places to eat. The tourist areas are often expensive, and if you scrub up on your local knowledge you can find somewhere much better and cheaper if you venture off the beaten track.

4. Finally, (and most importantly!) stay with a host – they’re cheaper than a hotel, and they can tell you where the best bars, clubs, restaurants and attractions are.

Following these easy steps will make sure you cut down your stress levels, and not just your bank balance!

 

Meet the hosts!

This week Gemma from Gay Homestays met up with Colin and Karyo, who host a property with Gay Homestays in Manchester. They’ve been receiving guests from us for a year now, and I wanted to find out about their experiences with them.

Colin and Karyo had started renting out their spare room as a way to pay the maintenance charge on their city centre apartment. After the first few guests though, they both agreed that the social aspect of having guests had overtaken the initial financial incentive.

‘We’ve met some wonderful people,’ Colin said. ‘We’re always happy to give people advice on where to go if they’re new to the city. We’ve had guests who’ve come with us on a night out, and we’ve had a great time.’

They host on several sites, and the apartment is regularly booked. This means Colin and Karyo can make the same income as they would have from a full time lodger, but the process has been much more fun and much less invasive for them.  ‘We particularly like Gay Homestays guests because they are gay, we have more in common with them and sometimes we go out with them for nights out,’ Colin explained.

‘When we decided to start renting out the room, I was a bit nervous,’ said Karyo. ‘Colin is much more sociable than me, I like my own space. But after the first few guests, they were so lovely and we had such a good time with them that it wasn’t a problem at all.’

Colin said the highlight was definitely meeting so many different people from so many different cultures. ‘We had a Spanish couple staying once,’ he said, ‘who actually made us a Spanish breakfast in the morning. They really wanted us to experience their culture as well.’

‘We’ve had several guests who’ve left us a bottle of wine on the bed after they’ve left,’ said Karyo.

I could see straight away why they’re such popular hosts. They were friendly and welcoming – I had my coat taken and a cup of coffee in my hands before I could blink.

‘We have loads of different types of people staying, and we’re happy to accommodate all of them. Some guests just want a base to work from, and set up their laptop on the dining table,’ said Colin. ‘Others, like a Belgian lady who stayed with us, couldn’t stand their hotel. She said it was so impersonal and lonely. Whatever the guests want, we just want them to feel at home.’

I asked Colin and Karyo if they’d ever used a host rather than a hotel when they’d been away themselves.

‘Of course,’ said Karyo. ‘We stayed with a lady in Amsterdam when we went there for Pride. She had the most beautiful house, and the breakfast was incredible.’

‘We’ve had hosts who rent out their spare rooms in London coming to stay with us as well,’ said Colin. ‘It really seems to be taking off as an alternative to expensive hotels.’

Finally, I asked them if they had any gossip to tell me.

‘Once we had a news correspondent from overseas staying with us. We have lots of people from Europe who come to see the sites in Manchester. I didn’t realise it was such a big tourist attraction.’

To finish, I asked them if they were going to carry on hosting guests this year.

‘Absolutely,’ said Colin. ‘It’s become far more than the extra income now. We really look forward to meeting new guests, and we’re already had some inquiries for 2012.’