Here's why you should opt for a homestay.
My weekend stay at a homestay nestled on a hillock in the Western Ghats has been yet another excellent mini-vacation.
Called Mugilu, which translates into 'clouds' in Kannada, the place did not offer anything fancy – but it did bring on a whole lot of goodness with panoramic views of emerald green landscape, delicious local cuisine, and the company of some adorable dogs.
An early morning walk in the green meadows with the dogs by your side, gentle breeze swaying, and the tinkling of the cow bells is how I began my day.
Welcomed back with a cup of coffee and some delicious breakfast and spending rest of the morning at the balcony on a rocking chair sipping on some home-made gooseberry wine while it continued to drizzle.
No exaggeration here!
Well, I could go on. But, if you ask why I gave a brief narration, it's to drive home a point: Why homestays are your best bet for an enjoyable holiday.
You are welcomed by people who truly mean it
You don't always open your home to host visitors. Do you? But considering that people who run homestays do, that's because they genuinely enjoy doing so.
At home stays, you transform from being just a visitor or a guest to a friend. Be it the lunches or during tea time, some anecdotes are shared that is often accompanied with loads of laughter.
And, if you are one of those who enjoys some quiet moments, you can be assured that you will not be disturbed. No cold stares or unwanted interference, just friendly smiles that will put to ease. The hosts make sure, that your comfort is the top priority.
Delicious homemade food, which are truly local in flavour
How often do you go to resort or a hotel, just to see that the popular recipes dominate the menu card. And, if you are a foodie who enjoys savouring local cuisines, you are disappointed.
More so for some strange reason, they taste the same as it does in a restaurant in your city!
But at a homestay, you get to binge on some authentic home-cooked food. You will also get to savour some seasonal delicacies.
And, more importantly it will leave your tummy a happy and satisfied one, not with a bloated feeling that you experience after dining at restaurants or resorts. You could get lucky with the family sharing some home made wines, pickles and secret recipes.
You get to visit quaint places which are often unexplored by noisy tourists
The hosts will guide you to some beautiful often unexplored places – a waterfall, a sunset point, a picturesque beach or hillock, depending on the geographical topography.
It's like a secret hideaway, a best-kept secret which only the locals can tell you.
Imagine, you get to be a place that so beautiful that you get to soak in the wanderlust experience and capture some picture perfect moments without being photo-bombed!
You get a flavour of local life
When you stay in a homestay you get a glimpse of the daily activities of the local people, their culture and other nuances, which you never to get to see and be a part of if you stay in a hotel.
Thanks to your hosts' knowledge, you will get to know interesting tit-bits about the place than any travel guide or a travelogue. More importantly, when requested the hosts gladly help you arrange sight-seeing and other travel experiences at a fair price, since they have the best local contacts.
Rest assured, you are going to get the best ever deal you always hoped for.
Homestays encourage responsible tourism
Most homestays follow the philosophy of responsible tourism or eco-tourism. By the way of their functioning, through their teachings, they put in their best to ensure that tourism does not negatively impact the harmony of the place.
Homestays also boost the regional socio-economic conditions by providing employment opportunities to the local folks. The greenery around most homestays are often made without artificial landscaping.
Since cultural activities are also offered to guests on request, these activities not only generate extra income for the local artists but also provides a platform to showcase traditional skills and knowledge.
In fact, in many places responsible tourism has revived dying art forms and traditions and given a fresh face lift.
While you may have to comply with some elementary house rules (no plastic, no loud noise, etc), and the facilities are often basic, the experience of living in a homestay is something that a true traveller will enjoy (PS: Not a tourist).
After all, travel is an experience not just photo-opp moments.