My Homestay.com host Danny and I are sitting in his dining room, drinking coffee and playing on our laptops. It’s a rare sunny November morning and light streams in from the glass doors leading to the garden. The BBC plays in the background.
Danny flips his computer toward me. On the screen are photos from his recent trip to Macedonia. It was his first trip since “the accident”. If it weren’t for the accident I wouldn’t be here, eating muesli and yogurt at his dining room table.
The accident happened in January. He was walking in Hampstead Heath (a London park whose name, to an untrained American ear, sounds a lot like “hamster teeth”.)
A woman stopped to ask him directions. It was raining. The ground was muddy. As he turned to show her the way, his feet slipped from under him.
There was a horrible crunch.
“Suddenly I was on my ass with my ankle twisted in the most peculiar shape,” Danny says.
After a painful surgery, Danny was homebound for three months with more operations on the calendar. There went any plans for leaving the house, let alone traveling. On a whim, he signed up to rent out his spare bedroom through Homestay.com, a homesharing site he had read about in the paper.
“I figured if I can’t go to the world, I’ll have the world come to me,” he said.
The world came. Since signing up, Danny’s hosted people from Japan, Russia, Hong Kong, Slovenia, Ireland, Lithuania and beyond. I’m the first American.
His guests have cooked him delicious Italian and Vietnamese dishes in his kitchen. They’ve brought him local firewaters, chocolates and biscuits. I feel a bit bad because I didn’t bring anything and I don’t know how to cook.
Is it weird having strangers in his home, I ask. It’s a bit of a risk, he says. But he just listens to his gut when reading over a potential guest’s profile. If something doesn’t feel right, he doesn’t have to take the booking. He’s not a hotel, and it’s not like he needs the money for rent.
Now that his ankle is healed, it’s pretty obvious what he does use his Homestay earnings for: travel. He’s booked a trip to India, courtesy of his Homestay guests.
He used Homestay to bring the world to him when he was injured. Now that he’s healed, he’s using Homestay to see the world.
Homestay.com asked that I write a review of my stay in exchange for hosting me. All opinions are my own. Also, just as a heads up, the above links are affiliates.