Hospitality is different from home exchange in that it means staying with someone in their home with them. For me I think it is the greatest and easiest form of travel. Home exchanges can often be hard to arrange due to work and vacation schedules. We quite often do hospitality stays because we get so much joy and cultural benefit from them. You actually get to stay with locals, eat with locals and see first hand how people live in that culture.
Basically if you want to travel somewhere you contact a host and ask if you can stay with them. It’s that simple.
We have had hundreds of hospitality guests in our home and we use several different methods of “finding” our guests. Over the years we have had guests from our Sister Cities & Sister States, Rotary International, the World Trade Center Institute (State Department), home exchange websites such as homeexchange.com and hospitality sites such as Couchsurfing.com.
We have never had a “bad guest” and greatly enjoy the friendships we have developed over the years.
Our most useful tool is Couchsurfing.com. We first read about this site in 2007 (in The Washington Post) and it has changed our lives. You contact “surfers” and ask if you can stay in their home for whatever time period you wish. You and the host agree to the terms – for example on any rules such as buy your own food or help yourself to the frig. We generally go with the latter unless it’s a family of 5 and they always offer to go to the grocery store upon arrival.
I have stayed around the world – by myself, with a friend, with my husband, with a teenager, with my family, with my baby and husband and just my baby. It is easier with small groups – a single or couple but it is possible to find places for a family. we have done it!
We have used these sites to find a FREE waterfront condo in St. Thomas; a guest house for Easter vacation in NC; a place to stay for a wedding in Tampa; 2 weeks with friend in Germany, Lichtenstein, Austria, Switzerland; 3 weeks in a wine-making house in wine country of Italy; family vacations in Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Slovakia, Scotland, and so on!!!
They all were remarkable vacations because of the cultural experiences. But we also get great reward in hosting people from all over the world without leaving home.