Homestays as sustainable accommodation

Lizet Wesselman - 24/06/2023

Homestays as sustainable accommodation

Lizet Wesselman - 24/06/2023

In the last few decades, the demand for sustainable travel and responsible tourism has steadily increased. Travellers are increasingly aware of the impact their holidays have on the environment, culture, and communities they visit. One way you as a traveller can contribute to sustainability and local impact is by choosing homestays. Homestays offer a unique opportunity for a truly local experience, as you stay with a local family. You really get a sneak peek, and most likely they know all the hidden gems and family-run businesses in the area.

What are homestays?

Homestays are sustainable accommodations where you stay with a local family. The set-up can vary, from a room at their house to a gazebo you stay in. Admittedly, with the rise of homestays, it’s sometimes difficult to understand the difference between a homestay and B&B, and perhaps it’s similar in many ways. The difference is mainly that a homestay really tries to create that local experience, where you actually join the family for dinner, for example. They’re willing to help you with anything, perhaps take you to explore the area or offer unique workshops such as a cooking class. Or you might just be put to work for dinner, after all, you are considered a family member during your stay. Unlike staying in a hotel where you are a tourist who gets some flyers of museums and activities on request.

Sustainable travel and responsible tourism

Concious travel, sustainable travel and responsible tourism are terms that are often used interchangeably. Ultimately, they all revolve around minimising and even improving tourism’s impact on the environment, the economy and local cultures. Sustainable travel mainly focuses on the impact we as travellers have on the earth. But responsible tourism and concious travel revolve around our own awareness of that impact and then taking responsibility for making our local impact as positive as possible.

By choosing homestays, travellers are making a conscious choice to travel sustainably. Homestays generally have a smaller carbon footprint than large hotel chains, as they usually use less energy and water and produce less waste. They also often have their own garden where they grow fruits and vegetables for meals and maybe even hold some chickens. You can’t produce more locally than that.

And your hosts can also help you with tips & tricks to make the rest of your trip more sustainable. With practical information, such as rules around recycling. But also tips for local organisations for your tours and local, sustainable restaurants to eat at. They also know what restrictions there are around protecting local flora and fauna, so you can head out into nature with peace of mind.

Responsible travel and local impact

An important aspect of responsible tourism is striving to have a positive impact on the places we visit and the people who live there. Homestays play a crucial role in this. So by staying with a local family, you spend your money directly on the local community. A chain hotel often mainly generates a lot for the owner, but it rarely invests back into the community. Is that done? If so, that defines a sustainable hotel. But sometimes it is difficult to find out whether that local investment is really being used. If you stay in a homestay with a local family, then you can be sure that your money ends up locally and you are helping a local family with it.

Moreover, you will get a first-rate insight into the local culture. You can ask your host family about cultural customs, traditions and history. This way, you also give the local community a chance to continue sharing their traditions and culture with travellers. These kinds of accommodations have a lot of competition from established chain hotels, so much of this simple cultural exchange is lost. So by choosing a homestay over an international chain, you help preserve that local culture. Moreover, you will go home with a great experience and much better understanding about the culture than if you had not had these interactions. As a result, you might tell your friends and family just a little bit more enthusiastically about this travel location, boosting tourism.

So this simple accommodation choice contributes to local impact in several ways.

Authentic experience of homestays

On the other hand, conscious travel means that, as a traveller, you’re looking for an authentic experience. You want to really immerse yourself in the culture and experience the country as the locals do, away from the masses of tourists. Homestays offer exactly that. After all, you’re literally in someone’s home, you are in the middle of their daily life and daily routine. How much more local do you want it?

For example, by cooking together and engaging in conversation with the host family, you as a traveller can learn a lot more about the local culture. And as someone who has tried a few by now, I can guarantee that these stays will stay with you! Nothing wrong with the beautiful places that have become popular tourist attractions, but for that truly authentic experience, a homestay offers you so much more than just that tourist experience.

Personally, I had a great authentic experience at a homestay in Moldova

How to book homestays?

Convinced of the charm of homestays? It’s not hard to find them, once you know of their existence. There are specific websites for homestays, such as But you can also choose homestays on and, of course, you can book a room with a local via Airbnb. This is not officially a homestay, as a homestay often involves organising something to do together, to really spend time together. But it’s a way to stay with a local.