The proof of convergence of adaptive discretization-based algorithms for semi-infinite programs (SIPs) usually relies on compact host sets for the upper- and lower-level variables. This assumption is violated in some applications, and we show that indeed convergence problems can arise when discretization-based algorithms are applied to SIPs with unbounded variables. To mitigate these convergence problems, we first examine the underlying assumptions of adaptive discretization-based algorithms. We do this paradigmatically using the lower-bounding procedure of [Mitsos. Optimization, 2011], which uses the algorithm proposed by [Blankenship and Falk. JOTA, 1976]. It is noteworthy that the considered procedure and assumptions are essentially the same in the broad class of adaptive discretization-based algorithms. We give sharper, slightly relaxed, assumptions with which we achieve the same convergence guarantees. We show that the convergence guarantees also hold for certain SIPs with unbounded variables based on these sharpened assumptions. However, these sharpened assumptions may be difficult to prove a priori. For these cases, we propose additional, stricter, assumptions which might be easier to prove and which imply the sharpened assumptions. Using these additional assumptions, we present numerical case studies with unbounded variables. Finally, we review which applications are tractable with the proposed additional assumptions.