If you’re doing a stint of globetrotting and you’re trying to save money, everyone comes to the same conclusion - they’ll save their pennies by staying with friends and family. You’ll save money on hotels, you’ll be around people you know, and you may even be able to squeeze in a few cheeky uses of the washing machine. What can possibly go wrong?
Well, um, a lot. Anyone who’s ever stayed with friends or family will tell you about the downsides; the weird curfews, the lack of privacy, the potential for outstaying your welcome and the nagging belief that you’re spending too much time - or not enough - with people you know.
We’ve spoken to two travel bloggers this debate, and their opinions are below…
PRO: Chris Walker-Bush, blogger at Aussie on the Road
When you’re on the road for an extended period of time, there are a few prices you end up having to pay. The most obvious one is financial, but often we overlook the emotional and physical toll that bouncing from hostel to hostel (or hotel to hotel, if you’re lucky) has on us.
Your wallet is haemorrhaging money and you’re starting to miss the comforts of home – a private bathroom, being able to prepare your own breakfast, lounging around in front of the TV with a pizza and some beer or wine...
It’s reasons like the above that make staying with friends or family while abroad so appealing to me. Here’s why:
It makes financial sense:
Even if you’re a good houseguest and pitch in by cooking dinner or shouting the first round of beers, chances are it’s going to be cheaper staying with a friend than it would be shelling out for a hotel.
You’re likely to save on food costs by having at least one of your meals ‘at home’, whether it’s a simple bowl of cereal before heading out or a big family dinner to welcome home the prodigal son (or daughter).
You’ll get a local tour guide:
One of the biggest perks to staying with friends or family in my eyes is that it gives you access to a local who can help you best enjoy your time in their neck of the woods.
It’s a break from the road:
I’ll never get tired of travel, but it does sometimes wear you down a little bit. A pit-stop at a friend or relative’s home can be a great opportunity to recharge your batteries before launching a renewed assault on the road.
It’s a great opportunity to see people:
It perhaps goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) - the best reason to stay with friends and family is the chance to catch up with people you care about.
It’s true that some relatives aren’t necessarily your favourite people in the world, but consider yourself lucky to have the kind of filial support network that extends to offering to feed and house you for a night or two. There are many people out there who aren’t so lucky.
ANTI: Darren, a travel blogger for Explorelist
Most of us spend hours every day with people, be it family, friends or work colleagues, so it is important to have a break. Travelling solo is a great way to experience the world, and disconnect from life back home.
When travelling or staying with family or friends, you’re more likely to go along with what the group wants to do, which isn’t always what you want to do. How many times have you laid on the beach with a group of friends and wished you could escape and explore the local culture? When you travel alone without depending on friends’ or family’s hospitality, you can be flexible; you’re your own boss.
People are often put off travelling alone because they assume that they will be lonely - far from it. You will actually find yourself being more sociable and meeting new people in hostels or hotels, if that’s what you want to do.
Everyone should travel alone, at least once in their life, because you will come away from the holiday a much more confident person - I am still an introvert, but I was incredibly shy in my late teens; when I arrived back home from my first holiday alone in Spain, I was more outgoing and people often commented on this. Needless to say that my experience would have been very different (and probably much less of a confidence-boosting challenge) had I opted to stay with people I know on this trip.
If you have an interest in travelling alone but don’t yet have the confidence, my advice would be to travel to a neighbouring city near where you live; book a hotel, go eat in a restaurant, visit the local attractions - then see if you enjoy the experience, or not.
You should not be scared to travel alone. For some people it might be a tough decision and a weird feeling for the first few days, but you will not regret it as it is much more adventurous and challenging, it helps shape your personality and gives you a completely different perspective of the world.
If you have an opinion on whether or not to stay with people you know while travelling, share it with us on Facebook.