7 Homestay Hosts Off the Beaten Path
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In 2015, The Sunday Times published an article on Duncan Craig’s pioneering cambio in provincial Sweden. A journalist and the deputy editor of the newspaper’s travel section, Craig decided to something a little bit different; instead of heading straight to the country’s capital of Stockholm like other tourists, he visited a little town in southern Sweden called Ronneby, where he spent three days coaching a local women’s rugby team. Here, Craig had “more laughs and learnt more about Sweden than [he] would have on a dozen Stockholm city breaks”.
Like Craig, other travellers are using cambios to stay with locals and get an authentic homestay experience in places that you won’t necessarily find in the tourist guide books. Korean traveller Moon opted for the Spanish town of Lugo instead of the major hubs of Madrid or Barcelona, while photojournalist Paloma preferred the small town of Evergreen in Colorado to the hubs of New York City or Los Angeles. Here are a few more ideas for some cambios off the beaten path…
1. Princesse in Belgium
Nestled in the scenic suburbs of Dinant, in a picturesque house near the river Meuse, there is a private double room with a stunning garden view just waiting to be visited on a cambio. Here, your welcoming Hosts – who speak English, French, Dutch and Spanish – can offer you an insider introduction to the region, which is an hour outside of the country’s capital, Brussels. Dinant is rich in culture, with a number of protected heritage sites; the city’s most distinguished landmark is the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant, an unusual hybrid of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, complete with 16th century pear-shaped bell tower. Dinant is also the hometown of Adolphe Sax, the creator of the saxophone, and the Couque de Dinant, Europe’s hardest biscuit.
In Princesse’s home, you will have access to laundry facilities, shared kitchen and bathroom, parking, two bicycles, tablet, laptop, free WiFi, and you will also be entitled to station drop-off and pick-up. If you know one or two things about Japanese calligraphy, photography, or meditation, or you’re a native speaker of Afrikaans, Italian, German or Hindi, then you could be Princesse’s perfect Guest!
Find out more about Princesse here.
2. Carolina in Costa Rica
Situated near the impressive Poás Volcano, white sandy beaches, lush rainforests and rolling mountains, Carolina’s home in Central Valley is ‘like living in paradise plus internet.’ With temperatures around 24 °C (75 °F) all year round and constant sunshine, Central Valley is the heart and soul of Costa Rica, boasting a ready-made expat community just over an hour outside of the country’s bustling capital, San José.
Carolina’s home is an ‘artists and programmers house’ where the residents speak a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and English. Here there is room for 3 guests, and breakfast, lunch and dinner are fully provided throughout your stay.
If you play any musical instrument, can whip up a storm in the kitchen or you’re a native Italian, Portuguese or English speaker, then you could be Carolina’s perfect guest. Find out more about Carolina here.
3. Minerva in the Dominican Republic
Minerva and her boyfriend outside their home in Bávaro, Punta Cana.
Minerva and her boyfriend are a Spanish couple who work in Business Administration and Naval Engineering. They live in Bávaro, Punta Cana, and speak English, Italian, Romanian and Spanish.
Located in La Altagracia, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic, Bávaro offers a wide variety of water attractions such as catamaran sailing, deep sea sport fishing, floating spas, private yachts, and reef exploring. An area of beach resorts in Punta Cana, Bávara boasts vendors who sell handicrafts and regional arts and crafts along the palm-tree dotted plaza, and is only just becoming popular with Americans.
Why not visit this exotic tropical hotspot and help Minerva learn cooking, music, dance, sports or technology?
Find out more about Minerva here.
4. Stella in India
Stella is Italian and lives in the suburbs of Delhi, India. With a Master’s degree in Luxury Brand Management, Stella would like to host Spanish and Chinese speakers, budding chefs and craftspeople.
The Delhi neighbourhoods are bursting with different ethnicities, religious beliefs and linguistic groups. Each area – whether it’s the affluent Golf Links, established Jor Bagh or residential Nizamuddin – has its own characteristics and distinctive personality, most of which you will only discover through word of mouth; as Delhi is often known as an ‘insider’s’ city, going on a cambio with Stella will provide you with an authentic perspective of this vibrant city and its distinctive local districts.
Find out more about Stella here.
5. Léa in Canada
In a cosy apartment in Saquenay-Lac-St-Jean, Quebec, you’ll find Léa, a 19 year old Master’s student of Advertising and Events Management.
Léa and her two roommates live in the Jonquiere borough by the Saguenay River, a diverse town with three major sports arenas, a winter sculpture festival held on the shore of the Rivière aux Sables and the Arvida bridge, the world’s first bridge made entirely of aluminum deck in 1950.
Léa wants to learn German or Spanish (or at least some new words) by hosting you! Or if languages aren’t your thing, Léa is also interested in yoga or salsa dancing and getting to know your culture and traditions.
6. Jesus in Spain
The sailboat that Jesus calls home.
Off the charming coast of Spain, you can find Jesus lapping up the nautical lifestyle on a 36ft sailboat.
With a fitted kitchen, shower and bathroom, you can watch the sunrise over the Mediterranean sea and enjoy fascinating conversations in English over a complementary Spanish breakfast!
With Jesus, there is the unique opportunity have a one-on-one cultural experience overseas (literally). The birthplace of paella, Pablo Picasso and passionate flamenco dancing, Spain boasts one of the richest cultures in the world.
And while you may think you’ve already seen all that Spain has to offer, this particular cambio promises to show you a whole new side of sunny España.
Find out more about Jesus here.
7. Cesare in Sardinia
Cesare’s home in Sardinia.
How does spending some sunny springtime afternoons in Sardinia sound? Like a little piece of heaven? We think so too.
The largest Mediterranean island after Sicily, Sardinia is home to huge numbers of megalithic structures called nuraghes and one of the oldest forms of vocal polyphony, known as cantu a tenore. Whether you’re an adventurous foodie or a frequenter of local festivities, Sardinia has a rich cultural experience for everyone.
And in a beachside villa on the beautiful island, Cesare and his girlfriend – who speak English, French, Italian and Spanish – are looking to develop their existing conversational language skills, and try their hand at Asian cuisine or web development.
With breakfast, lunch and dinner all fully provided, your stay will include your own private bedroom and bathroom, with access to a large veranda facing the calm emerald sea and “all you need for a good life.”
Find out more about Cesare here.
Do you live in a place with some unique attractions that you’d love to share with travellers to your country? By becoming a GoCambio Host you’ll be helping people to have a more genuine travel experience off the beaten path – plus you’ll get some language lessons or skill sessions for free!
About the Author: Emma is a 23-year-old copywriter at GoCambio and part-time shoe seller, so she’s always ready to think on her (size 5.5) feet. With a background in English, History, and Creative Advertising, some of Emma’s passions include fashion, travel, writing, film and social media. And tea. Black, no sugar. Connect with Emma on LinkedIn, Twitter or e-mail.
COVER IMAGE CREDIT: Guy Vindigni