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Old 02-23-10, 09:44 AM   #1
EriktheFish
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Consider registering as a host at warmshowers . org

I did a search on this board and nothing previous came up, apologies if it has.

If you are a bicycle tourist and aren't aware of warmshowers.org, I'd like to introduce you to it and invite you to sign up. It is a place for bicycle tourists to find like-minded folks willing to share their yard, floor, or extra bedroom space while on tour. It is also a place for empathetic home owners to add their house as a place to host touring cyclists. Registration is free and it is a non-profit operation. (I've never received any spam after signing up.)

http://warmshowers.org/

My motivation for posting this is two-fold. One is to spread the word for other tourists, the other is that it'd be great if more people would sign up as hosts. We are planning out our 6000 mile ride across the US starting this summer. We will camp plenty, but it will be nice to occasionally stay in yards or homes and get a shower. Unfortunately, there are large sections of the US where warmshower hosts are few and far between (as shown on their online map). I signed up to host, figuring if I'm gonna use the service to find hosts then I better volunteer as one, but so far haven't hosted.

There is another site called couchsurfing.com, but I like that warmshowers is dedicated to bicycle touring.

Erik

Last edited by EriktheFish; 02-26-10 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 02-23-10, 10:01 AM   #2
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Personally, IMHO, YMMV, yada yada, but I insist on looking anyone I invite into my home in the eye first. There are waaaay too many homeless-on-a-bike, take-advantage-of the charity-of-others types out there. No thanks.
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Old 02-23-10, 10:17 AM   #3
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I have registered as a host a couple years ago, but have not been called. I have put folks up who I have met on various forums.

I have not stayed with a warmshowers host at this point, mainly because they seem to be few and far between on the routes I have taken. The thing is that places where you need hosts are usually pretty off the beaten path and unlikely to have many warmshowers hosts. What are the odds of one being in a town of 39 in Wyoming?

That said we had some nice stays with hosts we met along the way when on the TA. We also found hosts by word of mouth via other cyclists on the same route and from the AC maps (mostly churches in the case of the AC maps).
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Old 02-23-10, 10:20 AM   #4
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I insist on looking anyone I invite into my home in the eye first.
No problem. Even if you have a prior agreement, when the person shows up at your door, you can change your mind and turn them away without stating a reason. In theory anyway, the guest should leave immediately and politely.
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Old 02-23-10, 10:25 AM   #5
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Warmshowers is great! I've been lucky to host 4 individuals over the past two summers, and was a guest while touring New Zealand.

I have declined 2 requests to stay with me because those individuals didn't have any user reviews, but as long as a traveller has only positive reviews, and it fits my schedule I'm all for it. I usually cross reference using couchsurfing, which a lot of people who use warmshowers are also on and also usually has a bit more personal info.

It's generally a lot of fun, getting to share touring stories/experiences and meet lots of interesting people (I've hosted a Polish guy who biked around the world, and a couple from New Zealand who had lived all over the world). I've ridden to the outskirts of town to help guide people to my place, given a car tour of Niagara Falls to check out the fireworks and just shared a lot of fun times. I owe a lot to my host in New Zealand, she allowed me to stash my bike box and luggage I had from a semester abroad for 7 weeks.

In practice it can be great if you are comfortable with it, but it really isn't for everybody.

If anyone is ever in the Niagara Region drop me a line through warmshowers, my username is Goodluck.
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Old 02-23-10, 10:35 AM   #6
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I've hosted 4 tourists as well from warmshowers. No problems. Still keep in touch with a couple of them via facebook. I also had requests and turned them down. I'm sure they were nice, but just didn't feel like hosting at that time and had things going on. I'd say use common sense, look the people up online, see if they have an online journal and decide if you feel comfortable hosting.
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Old 02-23-10, 10:48 AM   #7
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I've been a warmshowers host for a few years now, but haven't been called upon yet. I did make use of another warmshowers host on a short trip a couple years back. It worked out well - the host and his wife were great - even made me breakfast! I waited out a torrential thunderstorm in their livingroom the next morning. My wife and I were back that way a while later, and dropped off a nice bottle of wine to say thanks. Great experience.

If anyone is planning on touring through Exeter, Ontario - look us up on warmshowers - we'd be glad to have you!

Peace!
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Old 02-23-10, 11:58 AM   #8
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We've hosted a few travelers, either thru WS or Couchsurfing or 'captured' off the highway. Good experiences all. Also been hosted a few times.

One word of advice. If you're contacted by WS email to host, don't just ignore the contact. That is very rude. If you don't want to play host, just make up an excuse and post some sort of reply. 'Not convenient at this time' is good enough.
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Old 02-23-10, 01:18 PM   #9
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If you have trouble finding hosts in more rural areas you may want to look on couchsurfing, they have over a million members
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Old 02-23-10, 01:48 PM   #10
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If you have trouble finding hosts in more rural areas you may want to look on couchsurfing, they have over a million members
Good point... As a reality check I looked at our route for the Wyoming portion of our Trans America ride, and yes there were 4 couchsurfing hosts in towns on the route and 0 warmshowers hosts. So you are probably correct at least for some of the rural US.
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Old 02-23-10, 01:55 PM   #11
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We've hosted 3 couples last summer with Warmshowers, from Germany, NZ and Canada, they were great and we had a good time sharing stories. We havn't had a chance to be hosted yet maybe we'll try it this summer. We always ask for aditional information and I meet them somewhere first, I do not give out my address.
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Old 02-23-10, 03:44 PM   #12
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I have hosted 2x and stayed with WS 3x. We dont get many people coming through my part Western MA. Each time I was put up the families made me feel more than welcome. The 2x we hosted the riders were extremely appreciative they had a safe place to stay.

Ed
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Old 02-24-10, 12:45 AM   #13
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I've used Couchsurfing extensively here in the states and in Europe. I have nothing but great things to say about it, I think it's a fantastic service. The reference feature usually tells you almost everything you need to know about someone, as you can even look up the people that left the references. It's really nice to be able to have a local connection almost anywhere you're visiting in the country. I think it's making the world a smaller place(in a good way).

I haven't used warmshowers, but I'm very supportive of well-thought-out social networking sites like this. I've met several people I still keep in touch with on Couchsurfing.

My 2 cents.
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Old 02-25-10, 02:26 AM   #14
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I like the idea, but people need to be careful.

There was the guy that posted to bike forums a couple years ago. Can't find his onscreen name right now (some thing with/on religion). But he called himself a preacher and has his own religious web-site:
http://www.pedalprayers.org/Churches/page02.html

After reading enough of his post and his webpage rants section (that page seems to be removed), it became clear that he was homeless and mostly was riding his bent around the country sleeping in churches and at places from a couple of the sites like warmshowers.org or Couchsurfing. He just printed out the info and would show up unannounced. His feedback and rants page, showed that he could turn quite belligerent if the host did not cater to his desires.

If he flatted on the road, he expected the motorist that stopped to help, would drive him to a bike shop, pay the repair bill and then put him up for the night.
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Old 02-25-10, 03:15 AM   #15
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^^^ I have met hundreds, probably over a thousand couchsurfers. I have hosted, and surfed about 80 nights in 9 countries. I have never had a problem, always a great experience. If somebody has a solid profile with good references it is usually ok. There are some freeloaders but I think they stand out, besides, you are under no obligation to host somebody or allow them in your home if they appear homeless, on drugs, or you just have a bad vibe etc. It is the surfers responsibility to have a back up plan whether it be camping or staying in a hostel etc.
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Old 02-25-10, 04:14 AM   #16
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I know of a couple of real hardcore Couchsurfing hosts and they've been pretty happy so far.
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Old 02-25-10, 04:39 AM   #17
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I like the idea, but people need to be careful.

There was the guy that posted to bike forums a couple years ago. Can't find his onscreen name right now (some thing with/on religion). But he called himself a preacher and has his own religious web-site:
http://www.pedalprayers.org/Churches/page02.html

After reading enough of his post and his webpage rants section (that page seems to be removed), it became clear that he was homeless and mostly was riding his bent around the country sleeping in churches and at places from a couple of the sites like warmshowers.org or Couchsurfing. He just printed out the info and would show up unannounced. His feedback and rants page, showed that he could turn quite belligerent if the host did not cater to his desires.

If he flatted on the road, he expected the motorist that stopped to help, would drive him to a bike shop, pay the repair bill and then put him up for the night.
Hans Myers. He reportedly made a pass at a host's wife.

I've hosted once, and it was a good experience. Not so good was my experience with two guys using a charity to pay for their summer bike vacation. They didn't stay with me, but instead kept me anticipating their arrival for a day.
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Old 02-25-10, 06:25 AM   #18
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We've been Warmshowers members for about a year and a half -- we've hosted well over a dozen tourers, stayed with one WS host and we're big fans of the network. We did have one guy stay with us who was a bit weird but really he was harmless enough. I spoke with Warmshowers about him and it seems they get very few reports of difficult situations. What I like most about being a WS host is the tourers I get to meet. I mean... I really enjoy reading what all you people have to say in the forums... but sitting down to dinner with tourers and hearing their stories, discussing bikes, places, problems, etc is just SO interesting. We've had tourers from Europe, Asia, Australia, USA and Canada stay with us -- each with fascinating, but distinctly different, stories. As others have said, it's a good idea to read the references and do a bit of homework but to miss out on meeting these fantastic people because of fear of strangers would be unfortunate. And of course, when you're touring, being a member gives you the opportunity to meet some great hosts too.

One other comment is that when someone travelling on a bike stays with you, they are much less threatening than someone arriving in a motor vehicle. The speed of the getaway vehicle doesn't encourage poor behaviour
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Old 02-25-10, 07:37 AM   #19
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Good old Hans Myers. I believe he called himself the Reverend. I think he may be the only member we ever banned for bad behavior. AFAIK, he just took advantage of a couple of kind hosts by staying too long - he was in fact a sponger, not a bike tourist.

We probably don't have two complaints a year about members, and when we do it usually turns out to be that one party was inconsiderate.

I encourage you all to read the FAQ, which is available without logging in: http://warmshowers.org/faq. It's very clear there that you're never under any obligation to host, and that guests are never to arrive at your place without prior arrangement. These are clearly spelled out in the "rules" at http://warmshowers.org/the_rules.

-Randy Fay (webmaster of Warmshowers.org)
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Old 02-26-10, 07:02 PM   #20
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Most reports I saw were on couchsurfing.

As The Historian noted, I also remember a report of Hans Myers making a pass at a host's wife.

Plus a couple of unwelcomed overstays.

Several reports of him showing up with no notice.

A report of him showing up smelling really bad and refusing to take a shower before dinner or even after.

Some of the best indication of his attitude was on his two rant pages. The general page has been pulled and the rants against churches has been modified to just general complaints rather than listing his specific rants against specific churches and reverends.
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Old 02-26-10, 07:40 PM   #21
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I encourage you all to read the FAQ, which is available without logging in: http://warmshowers.org/faq. It's very clear there that you're never under any obligation to host, and that guests are never to arrive at your place without prior arrangement. These are clearly spelled out in the "rules" at http://warmshowers.org/the_rules.

-Randy Fay (webmaster of Warmshowers.org)
Welcome to the forum, Randy! Don't be a stranger.
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