Homestays present unique immersion opportunities during student travel programs. During homestay experiences, students can interact with and get to know local people on a much deeper and more meaningful level than they would otherwise.
Rustic Pathways’ homestay partners are evaluated using a thorough vetting process to ensure student accommodations meet our rigorous health, safety, and security standards. We also want to make sure our students are respectful of our local hosts homes and the members of their families.
Evaluating Potential Homestay Sites
Before identifying homes, we first consider communities by assessing safety and accessibility and gauging interest from community leaders about their desire to host students. After confirming communities’ interest in becoming homestay sites, we conduct thorough site visits.
Homes should meet the following guidelines. They must have:
- Private areas for students separated from the rest of the home by a door or divider
- Access to a clean toilet and handwashing station in or near the home
- No signs of animal or infestation, and maintain basic cleanliness standards
- Filtered and clean water for cooking and consumption
Homestay families also must not have members with police records or known histories of criminal and mental health behaviors.
Before Students Arrive
After homestay sites have been evaluated and selected, Rustic Pathways staff meets with families to discuss expectations for them during student visits, provide emergency contact information, address allergies, and other health issues that students could experience while staying in their homes, and establish behavioral and cultural expectations.
During the Homestay
Host families and students continue to provide feedback. Should students report concerns, Rustic Pathways staff will create an incident report and follow up appropriately. Staff continue developing relationships with our host family partners between student visits. In many cases, Rustic Pathways will use a single homestay family for multiple years resulting in a truly unique and welcoming environment.
After Students Leave
Host families and students continue to provide feedback. Should students report concerns related to comfort or safety, Rustic Pathways staff will create an incident report. Staff continue developing relationships with our host family partners between student visits. Staff also
host two formal visits with community members to review having students in their homes.
Expectations for Students
While we carefully and thoroughly review communities and homestay sites, it’s important for students to remember that people are welcoming them into their homes and their lives. Students are required to:
- Stay in homes overnight and should be there at the time set by their program leaders
- Ask the host family before inviting any visitors into the house; outside visitors aren’t allowed to spend the night
- Carry their emergency contact cards at all times
- Report illnesses or concerns to program leaders immediately
Students should also keep the local culture and cultural norms in mind during their stays and when interacting with their host families. They should be respectful and flexible at all times and abide by any additional rules their host families may have.
Interested in staying with a host family during an immersive student travel program for high school students or teacher-led trip for school groups? Click below to request a copy of catalog today!
With a masters degree in risk management and more than 20 years of relevant experience, Dave is the perfect fit to lead Rustic's Health and Safety Team. Dave joined Rustic in 2014 after owning a consulting firm specializing in implementing risk management and emergency response programs for domestic and global tour operators. He now works with our global teams to ensure quality and consistency in all Rustic programs. Dave lives in Colorado with his wife and children.