The concept of staying with locals has become extremely popular in the gap year industry in recent years, and Go Cambio is a new, rising force in this sharing economy. It is a free website where backpackers and independent world travellers alike can find alternatives to expensive hotels, guesthouses and crowded hostels by exchanging their native language skills in return for a nights stay with a local.
As independent world travellers have sought out alternatives to the more traditional forms of accommodation in efforts to both save money and get a more authentic travel experience away from the tourist trails, they have turned their attention toward elements of the sharing economy that allowed them to do just that.
There have been a number of hospitality networks that have sprung up over the years, but what travellers have really needed is a truly organic and mutually beneficial network. Now they have it.
What is Go Cambio?
Go Cambio is a new network that brings locals and travellers together. For free. It allows locals wishing to expand their language skills to open up their homes to travellers, and for travellers to get a place to stay and a couple of home cooked meals, all it costs you as a traveller is a couple of hours of your time.
Go Cambio are essentially on a mission to connect the millions of people around the world who want to improve their language skills with the millions of travellers and backpackers who want a real, local experience and a good bed for the night.
A simple exchange and new friends made. That’s Cambioing!
The benefits of Cambioing.
As a traveller the immediate benefits are obviously a free bed for the night and some (at least hopefully) good home cooking. Let’s face it when you have been in crowded hostels for extended periods and are eating on a budget these things alone are more than enough reason to sign up! But the benefits go far beyond that too.
Hosts share their homes, and guests share their skills.
As independent travellers, the benefits that learning about and experiencing a local culture as we travel cannot be overstated. It expands our mind, makes us more rounded, more knowledgeable, simply better in so many ways, and frankly there is no better way to do this as you travel than by actually interacting with a local!
Not only do you get to experience first hand local culture and customs with an actual live in homestay experience, you get their first hand knowledge of how best to see their city, where to go and what to do from a local viewpoint not just a guidebooks.
And if you can think out of the box a little bit, imagine what a couple of hours a day as a ‘language tutor’ can do for your CV when you get back home and need a job? Not to mention all the soft skills that you will develop as a result, more confidence, better communication skills, maybe even smatterings of an extra language yourself? All of these things and more are desirable traits that employers look for.
What do hosts get out of it?
One of the best things about Cambioing is the fact that this isn’t just a one way street. Both parties mutually benefit from the relationship. In return for hosting you and giving you a meal, your host gets to improve their language skills from a native speaker without having to shell out for tuition fees!
Is Cambioing safe?
In short, yes.
Regular readers of this site know just how importantly I value safety and security when travelling, and I have written a lot on how you can keep yourself safe on your travels here. The fact is I would never recommend anything at all if I felt it was unsafe.
Keeping yourself safe on the road is all about reducing the risk as much as humanly possible to acceptable levels. Go Cambio has provided a range of verification tools for both hosts and travellers to do just that.
Of course your own personal safety is your own responsibility as well, and there are a whole range of steps – from reading reviews and contacting people before you stay – that you can take to minimise any potential risk.
It is important to remember though that the sharing economy has been around for quite a while now and countless people use house sharing and hosting services every year without incident. Cambioing is no different in that regard. So do your homework, trust your gut and enjoy Cambioing in confidence.
Cambioing is the next big thing in the backpacking world and I am excited to recommend it to you. So if you want a unique, local experience on your travels as well as some free accommodation, and you don’t mind giving up a couple of hours to hone your skills as a language tutor, then why not Go Cambioing!
Did you enjoy this article? Do You want to Go Cambioing? Have you been? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
This post has been brought to you in partnership with Go Cambio. All opinions as always remain my own.