Happy Home Stays
After more than 19+ months on the road, I’m starting to crave my creature comforts. You know, luxuries such as hot showers, worm-free food, transportation without livestock.
Not only am I yearning for some developed-world standards for a while, but also some companionship. Since I’ve also built quite a few friendships with fellow travelers, I’m spending the summer months visiting all of them! (If you’re one of my travel buddies, expect that phone call…)
If you want to hang with friends on the road and enjoy a home-like atmosphere, here’re some tips for home-away-from-home accommodation:
Women Welcome Women World Wide
My mom referred me to an organization called Women Welcome Women World Wide or 5W for short. 5W is a global association of women who like to host other women travelers. The organization started in England and has hundreds of members in countries throughout the world.
There is no fee to stay with a host, but as a membership organization there is an annual joining fee of £35 or about $50. You also have to be at least 18 years of age. Here’s the link to apply for membership.
I’ve been a 5W member for about 4-5 months and I’ve already stayed with 8 women and met 2 women as day-hosts, women who show travelers around their cities for an afternoon. My hosts lived in Sri Lanka, England, and Scotland.
I really can’t recommend this organization enough – I’ve met some really fabulous women whom I have a lot in common with (hiking, travel, charity work). I met their families and continue to be in touch with them still, sharing photos and emails often.
One word of caution: Do not think of 5W as a cheap place to stay. That’s missing the point entirely! As a federation of women looking to form friendships with international women there is a lot of personal interaction. That’s the organization’s strength.
Camp in My Garden
My 5W friend Cynthia told me about this network of campers. The network is a matching site for hosts with grassy backyards and traveling looking to pitch a tent. Interested? Here’s the site.
I visited the web site, but I didn’t use the network since I don’t have my camping gear with me. Also, note the opening paragraph where I said I was a little tired of bugs in my bed…
Camp in my Garden is predominately UK-based, but some gardens are offered in continental Europe and Southeast Asia, Australia, and North American (and a few in South America). Campers pay a fee to the garden host and there’s a 2-week limit at any one site.
According to the site, the gardens on offer vary in standard from “bamping” (basic camping) to “glamping” (glamourous camping). I’ve never heard of “glamping” before, but I admit, I’m slightly curious…
My friend Nick told me about AirBnB.com. Actually, he mentioned it when he said his spare room I was going to stay in London had been rented out via AirBnB…Still I spent the day with Nick, whom I met more than 5 years ago while rafting the Nile in Uganda. He gave me a fabulous tour of his London neighborhood of Greenwich. But I digress…
www.AirBnB.com is a place where hosts with an extra room can rent it out for a few nights or a few weeks. They list the space, along with a description of the room and pictures, and a price. The fee for this casual B&B set-up is generally much less than a hotel, but more expensive than a hostel.
I wanted to try it out so I booked a night in Oxford, England. It was a nice place, with nice people. Although the money I saved in booking a cheap hotel was used up by the extra bus fare to their home and there were no pubs around, so I was a bit house-bound.
AirBnB.com works on a recommendation system, where hosts and guests rate each other. This helps ensure good behavior on both ends, and a “truth in advertising” fallback. In short, I would use AirBnB.com again, but would pay closer attention to the neighborhood and proximity to transportation hubs.
Know of any other home-stay options? Write in – love to hear about ‘em!
This entry was posted on Saturday, July 21st, 2012 and is filed under On the Road.