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  1. #1
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    warmshowers, couchsurfing, etc.

    How do you feel about these organizations/opportunities? Remembering “pprayers” and the blatant mooch (and every other thing which I will not mention) that he was and now a recent post by someone I, on the face of it, consider a chuckle-head, well, I don’t know that I would be willing to open my home for some unknown house guest. Nor am I inclined to take advantage of such offerings (I don't mind meeting strangers, I just won't invite myself into someones house whom I have never had a conversation with, let alone gotten to know on any level—it's not me). Now I know some of you do use these resources and I am just curious as to what your experiences have been. Have your hosts ever recalled unpleasant or undesireable people staying with them? Did you find any of your hosts to be head-cases? Cause you any uneasiness? As I mentioned, I do not intend to take advantage of these services, but I am, however, very curious as to how users have liked it and what their experiences have been.
    None.

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I am signed up as host with warm showers, but have never been a guest with either at this point. I have been the guest of folks we met along the way on the TransAmerica and felt this might be a way of offering similar hospitality to that which I have received.

    I figure that if I get a bad vibe when they call I can either tell them no or let them camp in the yard. If I get a good vibe I can invite then in and feed them. This is all theoretical at this point since I have not yet actually had any one call. I am not in a location where I expect many will call.

  3. #3
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    My wife and I have thought about it for quite a while but we still can't see having some strainger('s) in our house. We would have to put everything away or be around all the time we really don't need the hassle. We don't even think of giving the keys as we've heard some people do. And having them camp in the back yard would make us feel kinda bad, might as well not have them over at all.
    As far as going into someone elses house well we do fine in campsites or B&B's.
    Warmshowers and Couchsurfing is a good idea but its just not for us.

  4. #4
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    I've been a member of warmshowers for about ten years. I've never stayed at a warmshower hosts place. I've hosted people twice, and it was a positive experience both times.

  5. #5
    moving target c0urt's Avatar
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    I used couchsurfing.com when i europe and loved it, that site is huge over there. i am involved with it here in birmingham as a host and organizer.
    how to tape your bars http://www.flickr.com/photos/89572419@N00/sets/72157629279270681/

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios View Post
    As far as going into someone elses house well we do fine in campsites or B&B's.
    Warmshowers and Couchsurfing is a good idea but its just not for us.
    We found these invitations and the subsequent hospitality to be high points during our trip on the TA. Our hosts seemed to like hearing about the trip and seemed to enjoy our stay as much as we did in some cases. It warms my heart to remember these kind folks.

  7. #7
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    I think it all has a yuck factor. But I recognize that's my weakness. If I was better in some way I would be able to turn anything of that sort into a positive experience. In fact, as far as that goes, I'm there already, I can be a great host deal with any social situation, I just avoid them at all cost.

    It is a little strange how odd these kinds of things seem to a lot of people. Yet people seem to really enjoy going to places so off the map that the local people, no mater how poor, are incredibly hospitable with what must be a palpable component of their wealth.

  8. #8
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    I have had several guests, and they were all wonderful people, and were wonderful experiences. Wouldn't give them up for anything.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    We just had a couchsurfer over a few days ago! It was a lot of fun to talk with her.

    On our last trip we stayed with quite a few hosts from warmshowers and it was wonderful. We met some great people that way.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  10. #10
    enginerd jeff^d's Avatar
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    All of my warmshowers experiences have been exceptional. I stayed with about 12 people along the northern tier route, ranging from tenting in the back yard to "here are the keys to my other car" and private rooms with full on family dinners. Maybe it was the areas we were traveling through...North Dakota and Montana are pretty rural and people seemed very trusting. It was not uncommon for our hosts to leave us in the morning with "make whatever you want for breakfast, close the door on your way out, and have a great trip!" (there were two of us, males in our early 20s). I coudl go on and on with stories; suffice it to say warmshowers added greatly to our trip. Plus, when you are riding day in and day out with the same person, some outside contact is nice.

    I have hosted a couple people and promised myself I would grant them the same amount of trust that was given to me. This hasn't been terribly difficult, but the imagination does wander. There is an unspoken law of trust between tourers, I think, and anyway, they're on a bike...how far could they get in a day?! Really though, the nicest things I own are a couple of bikes ("nice" is relative to my lifestyle, they are nothing special), so I understand the hesitation of others who own more.

    I have done a bit of traveling in Latin America, and I would compare the hospitality of warmshowers people in the US to Latin Americans. To be honest I was pleasantly surprised how nice my fellow Americans were to me...not something I see everyday as a regular bike commuter.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    For us, Warmshowers and other similar things have provided some of the most wonderful experiences of our trip. We have made five excellent friends through these sites and had a good time with all of our hosts. We have also been invited into people's homes many times (mainly in the Middle East but also occasionally in Europe) by people we meet by chance on the road and this too has always worked out well. In the developed world people tend to be more reserved about opening their hearts and homes to strangers and what a shame. One of the most important things we've learned on tour over the past 18 months or so is that 99.9% of people are good people no matter their race, religion or nationality. Yes, you might be unlucky and find that 0.01% but if you close your doors and mind completely then you miss out on the other majority, many of whom may turn out to be your new best friend. How sad would that be? When we return to "normal life" one day we will not hesitate to invite passing travellers into our homes.

    Of all the people we've stayed with, I've only heard of one slightly negative experience where the host and guest just didn't connect very well. The guest left after one night and it wasn't a big deal.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  12. #12
    Jack of all (bike) trades
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    I did a two-week tour of Ireland back in November, and found hosts on Couchsurfing wherever possible. (Warmshowers didn't show any cyclists except in Dublin, where I had already planned accomodation) I would definitely say that those couchsurfing experiences were the best part of my trip! The people I met there were all very genuine, and I felt like I knew what I was getting myself into before I showed up at someone's door. Granted, I'm generally a trusting person, and in general feel like I don't have much to worry about being a 21-year-old male without money or posessions. But I would definitely recommend (and often do) couchsurfing whenever possible. It's a great way to make friends and learn about new places and the cultures there.

  13. #13
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    Hi i have had a few people stay in the lat few months of warm showers and never had an issue
    they have all contacted me before they came but I would not mind ever way
    my kids liked it as well they have all been foreigners so far adn stay 2 or 3 nights and help out with dinner and stuff and i let them have a key i m sure that there maybe the odd one of two bad eggs and I will deal with that when i have to but the ones I have meet so far are on a holiday or world tour and i think we both benefit from the experience and they experience our culture and I get to understand a little more about theres

  14. #14
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    I've tried a lot of different ways of travelling, but I cannot imagine ever going back to anything I tried before after I discovered genuine hospitality, usually made possible through Internet services like CouchSurfing or HospitalityClub. The second aspect of the way of travelling which I fell in love with, is that of getting around by hitchhiking or walking. Now, soon, I'll be trying cycling, and I'm pretty sure I'll like that as well.

    Anyway, regarding CS and HC, I've used them for finding accommodation maybe thirty times, and I've only had good experiences. I've only met loving and generous people, and I even have a preference for those members that so far have no references (some people avoid these, saying it's risky).

    When I'm travelling and I have no idea where I'll be the upcoming night, it's hard to "book" places in advance. On HospitalityClub they have a field for telephone numbers, so sometimes I go about calling people. Other times, I just go around asking people or knocking doors. I understand perfectly well that the average person would not like to take a stranger into his home just like that, but there are always some people nearby who are having a horribly boring evening, just like any other, who would love to meet and host some crazy but genuinely kind traveller. I've only had great experiences with this as well.

    My main reasons for sleeping in peoples' homes:
    - They host you because they would like to host you. When you sleep in a ho(s)tel, they (the company) are hosting you merely because they want your money, and the receptionists are saying yes to host you merely because it's their work to do so, and if they don't do their work, they won't have the paycheck which they need to survive. Sleeping in homes vs. sleeping in ho(s)tels is like love and generousity vs. fear and greed. Putting it like that is of course not entirely fair, but it oftentimes feels just like that to me.
    - You are meeting and staying with locals, and that is to me the best way of truly experiencing a culture (no, I don't think you can do so by visiting museums or going sightseeing).
    - The people you stay with know the area very well, and they can offer you plenty of advice and resources. They have lots of friends and other non-commercial contacts (which you'd never have in a commecial institution like a ho(s)tel) which can be of great help, even though it can be hard to imagine their use. Your hosts are also living a life, and they are likely to invite you to somehow take part in it. For instance, they may take you along to a party, a meeting with a local organization, or to show you what they do for a living, or for a hobby (from this you can learn a lot).
    - When using CS/HC and booking places in advance, you can specifically hook up with people with whom you have something in common (for example interests or hobbies). Could be bicycle touring, or in my case, activists, thinkers, or people doing something creative.
    - If you stay for some days or more, you're likely to establish good friendships that may last your whole life.
    - It's entirely free.

    I encourage everyone who have not tried it yet to do so. As I said, I will never again pay for sleep unless I have to (or if it's really cheap and I would seriously like some privacy, hehe).

  15. #15
    Still on the road downtheroad.org's Avatar
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    We love WarmShowers

    Hi,
    We have not used Couchsurfing but we have used Warmshowers in Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand and the people we have met have been the highlight of our trip. The cultural exchange and learning opportunities has been well worth the initial awkwardness. Yes, we were strangers when we walked in the door but we are life long friends now. It is a cultural exchange for us; we learned so much about living in Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand that we would never have learned had we just ridden by on our way to a campground or hotel. We will continue to use Warmshowers during our trip through North America and look forward to meeting people along the way.

    WarmShowers is purely voluntary for both parties so if you do not feel comfortable with it then do not join. The only complaint we have heard from the people we have stayed with is that touring cyclist do not contact and stay with them often enough.
    Tim Travis
    www.DownTheRoad.org
    Traveling continually since 2002 - no plan to stop

  16. #16
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Back in the Uk I had several couchsurfing guests, all types of tourists, travellers and even cyclists. It was useful to chat about their countries and travel they had had.

    I have just completed the crossing of Australia from Perth to Sydney and used Couchsurfing many times, even stayed with one of my previous guests. All my hosts have shared the same feeling of warmth and friendship, and I have been taken in as part of the family, given keys to doors and cars.

    I have no problem recommending Couchsurfing to others, as a way of meeting people both as a guest and a host, and helping keeping costs down while on tour.


    George
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
    http://picasaweb.google.com/georgeidf50/southeastasia

  17. #17
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Someone mentioned that pprayers guy on the warmshowers list, and he does sound like a real nightmare. But I gotta say, I wouldn't let anyone in whose initial contact is when he rings the doorbell. If a person is so inconsiderate as to not contact his would-be hosts ahead of time, that's an indicator of what an inconsiderate guest he will be. Pity.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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