So as you may recall, when we arrived in Roatan, we turned our noses up at a $20 room and it led us to a dive shop where an instructor offered us a room for $10 a night. Score! Well, once I concluded he wasn’t a serial killer or out to steal my camera it was a definite score. But in more ways than I would have thought…
Reason 1: Instant Friends. Traveling can make you feel like part of the biggest, friendliest community you’ve ever been a part of. It can also make you feel super lonely when you arrive on a new island and don’t know a soul. Staying with Marco and Christine we had instant cred among the expat community (actually, Marco is Honduran and therefore not himself an expat) and were thus treated as family. Plus one night we ordered Chinese food with them and despite it tasting like really bad Honduran food with some Chinese flavoring, it was great to hang out in sweats and feel like old friends when we were too pooped to party.
Reason 2: Insider Info. Not sure which scooter rental place has the lowest prices? Is this restaurant any good? Is there an actual road to the other beach or is the correct method in fact to wade through the ocean knee deep? Lets ask our concierge hosts!
Reason 3: Free Sea Kayak Use. Duh. Lets just say I didn’t see any hostels advertising this perk.
So we might have done it a slightly untraditional way, saying yes when a perfect stranger offered us a room in his unseen house on a dark and rainy night, but there are perfectly acceptable ways to stay with locals abroad, whether its calling a friends of a friend of a friend who just moved to Singapore or signing up for Couchsurfers. Though I will note Couchsurfers is only perfectly acceptable if you are not my friend Michelle who has a theory that people opening up their homes must be weird and are probably videotaping you while you sleep (note to swedish couple who couchsurfed with us this summer in Cayman: We did not do this).
As for the friend of a friend thing, you know when you’re going somewhere and suddenly everyone you talk to has an aunt who had a piano teacher who is now living there teaching underprivileged orphans English? When I went to Thailand last summer by best friend had just started dating a guy whos parents lived in Bangkok. He excitedly told me his parents would love to meet me and I kind of halfheartedly said I’d email. I regret it now! When my mom went to Indonesia she met up with a friend of my childhood piano teacher’s. How cool is that? From now on I will now make every effort to know and live like locals wherever I go.