How to book a homestay

Homestay Lessons Learned

Welcome to Episode 2 of the 3 part Jamaican podcast Series. Listen on Youtube, or Apple iTunes. I’m sharing my experience staying with locals in Jamaica. Learn how to book a homestay and how to prepare for culture shock. Experience staying with locals in Jamaica to immerse yourself into the culture. Let go of your own lifestyle for a few days, and live life authentically in Jamaica. Learn how you too can book homestay’s all around the world. Opt for a cultural experience when travelling to change your perspective. Get ready for culture shock as you’re getting the real experience of staying with locals in Jamaica. Keep reading for tips on how to book a homestay anywhere in the world. 

how to book a homestay jamaica

Experience staying with locals

I’ll have lots to update on since episode 1. Since episode 1, I’m happy to announce that my dad got a new water pump installed. Now the family we were staying with has proper water pressure to take a shower. This humbles my heart as we had no idea we were going to do this. We thought we were having a culture trip in Jamaica, which ended up fixing a water pump. We helped this family have a running shower, something that every family in the world should have. Still in 2020, that is not the reality….

Staying with Locals in Jamaica

For me personally, staying with the family became very difficult. We are from such different cultures that for some things that Canadians consider standard, is not standard in Jamaica. While I had a great experience staying with locals in Jamaica, I have learned some life lessons that I’d like to share with you. This will make your trip more enjoyable for you and the host family. 

Prepare for culture shock

culture shock jamaica2

Culture shock makes you see life through a different lens. Experiencing culture shock isn’t scary, but it’s a test of your true openness.

No running water, no showers, one meal a day.  My expectations were that we’d give them money and there would be food. There was food, but not the same protein, fruits and vegetables that my diet consists of back home.

Get off All Inclusive Resorts

You aren’t on a 5 star, all inclusive resort, this is raw traveling where anything can happen. Be open and ready for whatever comes your way.

Flow like water and see what happens! Does that sound scary? Good – because it’s through challenge and discomfort that we grow, evolve and learn.

culture shock jamaica

Culture Shock

Firstly, the family every morning would wash their clothes by hand. One evening, I didn’t get to bed until 11 pm, and then around 3 am the grandmother proceeded to wash her clothes. The sounds of scrubbing, water flowing and buckets of water splashing was enough to wake me up. Between 3 – 4 am, the grandmother was washing clothes so her clothes would be ready in the morning for work. The lack of food, and a lack of sleep combined together was very difficult for me. The next day, I had to leave. This was too much culture shock for me to handle.  Secondly, was the lack of nutrients.

Experience staying with locals

Therefore, sleep and food are essential to life and traveling – no sleep, and a lack of nutrients can leave you very unhealthy, weak and not your regular self. I learned the importance of these two vital life elements while staying with locals in Jamaica. When booking a homestay, you have no idea what will come your way, and that is the beauty of it. We didn’t know when we’d eat, and had no control over what we would eat. While I was trying to be respectful, there are things like food and sleep that we just need. 

How to book a homestay

So, this podcast is dedicated to helping you have a successful homestay. There are many things to consider when booking a homestay, and I will share with you the lessons I learned. 

5 Tips for Booking a Homestay

Number 1 – I got a lot of questions about how to book a homestay. You can stay with a local family by looking online on various forums. Jamaican families will post online to accept internationals into their home. You can check on Trip Advisor. Usually for a fee, as you’re helping support the local family. None of this is free, if you’re thinking about staying with a family will be cheaper than a hotel, you’re not thinking properly. This isn’t about saving money, but rather having a richer experience. You’re supposed to give back to the family in any way that you can.

Websites like are amazing as local families post projects that they need volunteers for. If you can perform the tasks they are looking for, then contact the host and arrange a time to visit. The usual tasks are babysitting children, building a garden, doing landscaping, or building a home. Find what is best for you. Booking a homestay should feel natural for you. If you don’t have a good feeling, don’t book the homestay.

Tips for Booking a Homestay

In these cases, where you’re going into a complete stranger’s home, you are completely going out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. However, before you arrive, there’s important questions to ask. Be sure to talk about the details of your trip ahead of time, specifically how long you’ll be staying and if you’ll be responsible to pay a fee. Speak to the host beforehand to ensure you’re both on the same page, and no one has unrealistic expectations. Develop a friendship with them, and be curious about their life. 

Communication is key when booking a homestay

Know that what is customary in one culture is not universal. Communicate your desires as clearly and as open as possible before the trip to not disappoint yourself or the host family.

How to book a homestay tip #2 lower your expectations

Number 2 – Don’t have expectations. I have read and heard so many people say they wanted their vacation to go this way, and it went another way. Just like life, don’t have such high expectations. That way you can’t get hurt and disappointed.

Stay with Locals tip #3

Number 3- Do your own groceries. It’s imperative when traveling to eat and sleep properly. By doing your own groceries you’ll have what you physically and mentally need to handle the day. When staying with locals, it’s important you receive the adequate nutrients you’re used to.

Booking a homestay advice #4

Number 4 – Book your own cottage/apartment nearby, or bring a tent 🙂
This is especially the case if there is no space in the house. If the house is small, then book a nearby place. The place you rent will most likely be affordable, and it will still be an authentic Jamaican house to give you the experience you are seeking.

Experience staying with locals but have your own independence tip#5

Tip # 5 Have your own independence – Be sure you are free to do things yourself, so you may explore as you please. To have an authentic travel experience you must be free to roam the streets and take a way by yourself. Take some alone time to recharge your batteries. They will also need time apart. As, chances are they are not used to having a stranger in their home.

Lessons Learned when booking a homestay

So overall, even though I am back in Negril, I appreciate the experience I had staying with a local Jamaican family. I do not blame them, as I should have known better. I am the person coming into their home. Don’t think that they owe you something. You owe them something. So like I said I should have communicated better and purchased groceries upon my arrival. I was swimming in the ocean before they picked me up. I should have been better prepared. I hope you will be too thanks to this podcast.

Experience staying with locals in Jamaica

Citizen of the world podcast

Nonetheless, I enjoyed seeing real Jamaica. Listen to Episode 1 and 3 of the 3 part Jamaican podcast series. Learn how to do your own thing in Jamaica, and how to stay with locals in Jamaica. These are things you can do when visiting Jamaica to experience true Jamaica.

  • Visit a church see the wonderful Sunday attire, and hear the beautiful choir songs. 10 am till about 2 pm. Get ready to sing
  • Visit a market on a Saturday everyone is hustling and bustling – everyone goes to the market at this time
  • Stumble upon a secluded fishing beach – go early morning to see the fishermen bring back the fish
  • Sit with a Rasta – listen to the wisdom of Rastafarian’s
  • Enjoy the slow pace of Jamaica  

Citizen of the World podcast

Need more advice on how to book a homestay? Contact me directly. Read about life in Cuba, through the eyes of a local Cuban.

Book a Homestay in Jamaica