Homestay is a popular form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors share a residence with a local of the city to which they are traveling. The length of stay can vary from one night to over a year and can be provided gratis, in exchange for monetary compensation, in exchange for a stay at the guest's property either simultaneously or at another time, or in exchange for housekeeping or work on the host's property. Homestays are examples of collaborative consumption and the sharing economy.
Farm stays are a type of a homestay, in which the visitor stays on a working farm.
The terms of the homestay are generally worked out by the host and guest in advance and can include items such as the type of lodging, length of stay, housekeeping or work required to be performed, curfews, use of utilities and household facilities, food to be provided, and rules related to smoking, drinking, and drugs.
Homestays offer several advantages such as exposure to everyday life in another location, opportunities for cultural diplomacy, friendship, intercultural competence, and foreign language practice, local advice, and a lower carbon footprint compared to other types of lodging; however, they may have restrictions such as curfews and work requirements and may not have the same level of comfort, amenities, and privacy as other types of lodging.
Independent travelers typically arrange homestays via social networking services. Homestays can also be arranged by academic institutions.
A family that hosts a non-family member is a host family. Hosts can also be involved in au pair programs in which a long-term guest stays with a family who provides accommodation in return for child care assistance and light household duties. Au pairs are treated as part of the family and participate in their day-to-day family routines.


Hospitality exchange services

The conversion of the biggest of hospitality exchanges services Couchsurfing to a for-profit corporation in 2011 was objected to by many of its members. Couchsurfing had previously been financed by donations and built using volunteer work. Non-profit hospitality exchange services offer trustworthy teams of scientists access to their anonymized data for publication of insights to the benefit of humanity. Before becoming for-profit, Couchsurfing offered 4 research teams access to its social networking data. In 2015, non-profit hospitality exchange services Bewelcome and Warm Showers also provided their data for public research.


In 1949, Bob Luitweiler founded Servas International as a volunteer-run international nonprofit organization advocating interracial and international peace.
In 1965, John Wilcock set up the Traveler's Directory as a listing of his friends willing to host each other when traveling. In 1988, Joy Lily rescued the organization from imminent shutdown, forming Hospitality Exchange.
In 1966, psychologist Rubén Feldman González created Programo Pasporto for Esperanto speakers in Argentina. In 1974, with the help of Jeanne-Marie Cash, it became Pasporta Servo and published its first membership directory, which listed 40 hosts.
In 1971, Sue Coppard founded WWOOF, a network in which food, lodging, and education is provided to guests in exchange for housekeeping and farmworker services.
In 1977, Presbyterian minister Wayne Smith and U.S. President Jimmy Carter established Friendship Force International, with the mission of improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, friendship, and intercultural competence via organized trips involving homestays.
In 1992, was launched online; it later was folded into Hospitality Club, created in 2000 by Veit Kühne.
In 1993, the database of Warm Showers was created by Terry Zmrhal and Geoff Cashmen. In 2005, it was launched as a website by Randy Fay.
In 2004, Casey Fenton founded CouchSurfing, in which accommodation is offered gratis. Beginning in March 2020, the website charges users a period membership fee.
In 2007, BeWelcome was formed by members of Hospitality Club who had had a disagreement with its founder.
In 2008, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia founded Airbnb, where hosts receive monetary payment from guests, paid online in advance, and Airbnb receives commissions from each transaction.
In China's Xinjiang region, homestay programs are used by the government in which ethnic Han Chinese are sent to the homes of Muslims in order to surveil them.