Monthly Archives: March 2012

What is a Homestay?

What is a homestay? We’re sure everyone knows by now, but in case you don’t, we thought we’d shed some light on the newest travel craze.

A homestay is when you stay in the home of a local person when you travel abroad. This can be when you go abroad for a holiday, on business, or you might have come across homestays in the form of school foreign exchanges. If you or your friends went on foreign exchange as part of a language course (like French) at school, then they would have stayed in the house of a French family while they were over there. When the French exchange student came to England for example, they’d stay with an English family.

Foreign exchange is a great example of why homestays are a good thing. They are used to teach people things. Students who go on homestays abroad learn a lot about the language and culture of the other country. They actually get to speak to local people, instead of a multi-lingual receptionist in a hotel.

Gay Homestays provides a unique experience because travellers can stay with like-minded people who often live in and around the gay scene.  Alternatively, some hosts rent out their spare apartment or holiday home, which is ideal for those travellers who would prefer their own space. Travellers also use homestays to find out about the culture and make the most of their host’s local knowledge. Then again, some people use it merely as a base when on a business trip.

Although it’s less impersonal than using a hotel because you may be sharing the space with your host, you are both a guest and a customer, which means you can be as sociable or as private as you like.  You will have your own key,  can come and go as you please and it is up to you if you choose to befriend your host or not.

Really, homestays cater for all kinds of people, and all kinds of travel adventures.  We’re going to let you know what travellers get up to when they use Gay Homestays in the next few weeks, so watch this space!

3 reasons to be a host with Gay Homestays

The title of this week’s blog might be misleading – we’re not trying to persuade you all to become hosts with us. Well, maybe just a little bit. We’ve put together the top 3 reasons why people become hosts with us to show you how much fun being a host is. If doesn’t make you want to be a host, it’ll make you want to stay with one of them!

1. Never stop learning. Travelling is all about finding out about new places and cultures. But you don’t even have to go anywhere to learn if you’re a host. All of our hosts say one of the best things about being a host is meeting people from around the world.

2. Earn some extra cash. The financial incentive was one of the top ones for our hosts, but as you’ll see it didn’t come above the social aspect of having people to stay. Weekends are the busiest times, which means you can earn some spare cash without having a lodger there all the time.

3. Make new friends. Our hosts are a sociable lot, but we hear the travellers are too. Those who opt for staying with a host instead of a hotel are the more sociable type, and the hosts often have great fun with their guests.

We hope we’ve convinced you, and that you’ll join us soon!

Sophie’s trip to Cuba

At Gay Homestays, travelling is our passion. Last week Sophie from the Gay Homestays team came back from her holiday in Cuba, and we wanted to share her amazing experiences there with you.

Sophie spent 6 days in Havana – a really lively city known of course for its rum, cigars, 1950s cars and great music  from talented street bands on almost every street corner.  Calle Obispo and the Havana Vieja (Old Havana) are the most touristy regions of Cuba, but not in the same way other places are – because Cuba is a communist country, there are no McDonalds or Starbucks anywhere to be seen, which made a refreshing change.

For eating and drinking you can’t beat the little patio bars and cafés in Havana Vieja – cobbled streets and historic plazas, caged birds and lucious plants are everywhere making the little terraces an inviting break for a very refreshing Cristal beer (local Cuban beer) and possibly a cigar! Cuba is not renowned for its culinary delights but here you will find a selection of reasonably good grilled chicken, pork and fish which seem to be the staple here.
Another area Sophie explored was the malécon (beach front) – a huge swathe of pavement running alongside the coast that becomes an alternative hang out at night for people to meet and swig rum straight from the bottle and play music It’s known as a popular gay hangout too, but there are not many clubs or bars nearby so if you go – remember to bring your own bottle!! After 6 days in Havana, they took a taxi for the 5 hour journey to one of the Cays – Cayo Ensenachos. The taxi had no rear seatbelts and as the one motorway in Cuba is full of potholes aswell as horse drive carriages be prepared for an interesting, if a little tense, ride.  Cayo Ensenachos is a beautiful and secluded island that can be reached from the mainland by the 40km of causeway that has been built in the shallow waters.  The Cayo itself is beautiful with the white sands, palm trees and turquoise waters I have always dreamed of lying on, cocktail in hand.  We stayed in an all inclusive resort there but you can take a ticket and visit the beaches for the day.
Sophie says she loved Cuba for many things, the weather, the beaches, the music, the people.  However, don’t go there with European expectations of standards – if you have a 3 star hotel it will unlikely match a 3 star in Europe. I think you need to be a little flexible and open minded to experience and enjoy Cuba.