Living with a family as part of a travel experience never really appealed to me.
I moved out of my parents’ house at the ripe age of 18. While I love my own family dearly, I thrive on freedom and enjoyed the independence immensely. So when this family invited me to live with them, I had my reservations.
I decided to take the plunge anyway, and I’ve been living with them for almost three months now. It’s not always easy. But living with a family comes with some pretty awesome perks, and overall I’ve really enjoyed my experience.
#1: They Make Lunch
In the middle of my work day, it’s so nice to not have to think about prying myself away from my laptop and preparing a meal. Though I love cooking, it’s nice to have time to do it when I’m not suffering from hunger pains trying to bang out an article or tweaking code on my website.
#2: Coffee in Bed
My family knows I love tinto, the name for Colombia’s black coffee. They understand that I like to drink it first thing in the morning before I even think about anything else. They always have a steaming cup of Colombia’s black gold ready for me first thing.
#3: Feeling Needed
The mom of the family needs to go to the doctor a lot. I won’t lie – sometimes it’s a real drag – but it does make me feel needed. It also feels good that she trusts me enough to talk to her about her medical conditions and listen to the doctors’ diagnoses.
#4: Feeling Useful
While they would never accept any type of rent payment from me, I do contribute to the food bill and other utilities. I like contributing and easing the burden on monthly expenses.
#5: Saving Money
Even after contributing to water, electricity, and food costs, I am still saving a bucket of money. It’s nice to be able to treat myself once in a while and not have to worry so much about pinching pennies like I normally do when backpacking.
#6: Being Cared About
Being a solo traveler in a foreign land can be a strange experience if something bad happens. Are you depressed, get sick, feel like giving up? There’s likely no one in your physical space that cares. Though it’s something I’ve gotten used to, it’s a nice change to be around so many people who truly care about me.
#7: Cultural Insight
I consider myself very integrated into the Colombian culture, but there are some things I couldn’t have seen without being a part of a family. I wouldn’t have learned how couples handle finances, that rice goes with everything (even pasta), or that it’s customary to drink something hot at night, like agua panela. It’s the little things I notice in the context of a family environment.
#8: Sage Advice
Another aspect of social interaction that as a former solo traveler I’ve lacked is being able to ask others for advice. After all, you’re unlikely to pour your heart out to some random backpacker sharing your living quarters for the night. It’s nice to get insight from someone who knows you and sees things from a different perspective.
My family has learned what I like, and sometimes they bring me back little treats. Arepas from my favorite shop, coffee, and chocolate arrive on my bedside table regularly. It’s a hard life I live ;)
Have you lived with a family overseas? What did you like about it?