Homestay is a popular form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors share a residence with a local of the city to which they are traveling. The length of stay can vary from one night to over a year and can be provided gratis (gift economy), in exchange for monetary compensation, in exchange for a stay at the guest’s property either simultaneously or at another time (home exchange), or in exchange for housekeeping or work on the host’s property (barter economy). Homestays are examples of collaborative consumption and the sharing economy.
Farm stays are a type of a homestay, in which the visitor stays on a working farm.
The terms of the homestay are generally worked out by the host and guest in advance and can include items such as the type of lodging, length of stay, housekeeping or work required to be performed, curfews, use of utilities and household facilities, food to be provided, and rules related to smoking, drinking, and drugs.
Homestays offer several advantages such as exposure to everyday life in another location, opportunity to live a local’s life in a way of experiencing the culture and tradition, opportunities for cultural diplomacy, friendship, intercultural competence, and foreign language practice, local advice, and a lower carbon footprint compared to other types of lodging; however, they may have restrictions such as curfews and work requirements and may not have the same level of comfort, amenities, and privacy as other types of lodging.
Independent travelers typically arrange homestays via social networking services. Homestays can also be arranged by academic institutions (for their students that study abroad or participate in student exchange programs.
A family that hosts a non-family member is a host family. Hosts can also be involved in au pair programs in which a long-term guest stays with a family who provides accommodation in return for child care assistance and light household duties. During a Uganda safari that includes homestays, visitors are treated as part of the family and participate in their day-to-day family routines.