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Experience with Warmshowers

Old 04-11-22, 04:01 PM
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Experience with Warmshowers

From what I understand, if you use, you must provide in return. Fair enough.

Before I truly commit myself (and family) to eventually being a host, I'd like to hear from those who've experienced it. All is great or worst nightmare? (just to be clear, I am wondering about the hosting side of the equation )
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Old 04-11-22, 04:40 PM
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I am sure that others will chime in with different stories but here's mine: I am a frame builder and all of my tools/ welder etc are in our guest house. We let this tourist stay in there. We can see the guest house from our main house. I suppose out of curiosity, I looked out there. For unknown reason(s) he had the main light on in the guest house (all night). I had read about other warm showers being ripped off. With the light on all night I was unable to sleep, thinking about how he might be filling his panniers with expensive bottom bracket taps or head tube reamers/ facers Etc... It turns out that nothing was actually stolen. My wife and I simply felt it uncomfortable loosing a whole nights sleep, so another bike tourist can have a place to sleep, so we dropped out of hosting.
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Old 04-11-22, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
From what I understand, if you use, you must provide in return. Fair enough.)
That's not true. You can do either/or.
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Old 04-11-22, 05:40 PM
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I've had nothing but good to excellent experiences so far, both as guest and host. The worst experience I had was a good guest who just wasn't effusive in thanks and never left a comment--not bad, just sort of entitled. I think it's a great network. I've been a host maybe a dozen times, a guest half that number. On the hosting side, it's rare to get an American here--my wife and I enjoy the international exposure.
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Old 04-11-22, 05:44 PM
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Thulsadoom Well -- I've just signed up to join and while you are able to postpone hosting, the default process sets a limit to one-sided behavior. And, if there is no reciprocity and no money in involved (as in AirBnb), the whole platform could be compromised.

I understand safety/insurance/convenience concerns (as expressed by headwind15 , which is why I am asking. IIRC, several members of this community have said that they'd welcome tourers, without reference fo downsides. Things may have devolved. Reading with interest
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Old 04-11-22, 05:47 PM
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andrewclaus Interesting -- No like button on your post. A feature that you have deactivated? I feel like the ungrateful visitor you mention
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Old 04-11-22, 06:05 PM
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DW and I have been a host and guest for many years. We have had better and less better experiences but never a bad one. I am not sure how many guests we have had but I expect we have hosted about 100 times. We have stayed all over the country and in Europe using Warm Showers. Our experience staying with people has also been mostly perfect to beyond perfect. Additionally, since we have moved a few times, we reach out to Warm Shower hosts for questions and perhaps friendships in our new town.

Having said that, we have made one change in our hosting approach. With Warm Showers growth, we have found that there are more people who seem to view it as a tool for them to save money and not necessarily as a community. For example, we received a request from a potential guest within the last couple of years who signed up just minutes before he called. That did not feel right to us. It was that type of behavior that discouraged us from remaining with Couch Surfing. Guests started to feel a sense of entitlement. Consequently, we have added a small hurdle in our invite, designed to measure the guests involvement in the Warm Showers community.

As far as I know, guests have only left our house with what they brought. We have had a wonderful time getting to know them (we always provide dinner and breakfast as we have always received the same) which provides time to talk about their trips and backgrounds. Many of our hosts remain memorable and I am thankful for all of them for opening up their house to us.
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Old 04-11-22, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by debade
with warm showers growth, we have found that there are more people who seem to view it as a tool for them to save money and not necessarily as a community.
+1
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Old 04-12-22, 04:11 AM
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We also came to the same conclusion that some joined just before asking for accommodation merely to save money on their trip. So we requested visitors had hosting experience as well so we could refuse those who had recently joined if we wished.
Now we have stopped hosting for the moment as Warmshowers seems to have changed over the last few years. They don't even have a forum to allow members to discuss problems with the organisation of Warmshowers. Members appear to have no say any more. We also found there were few active members when we tried to organise a host in France well in advance of our visit. A large number did not even bother to reply to our request. In the end, we gave up on Warmshowers in that city and booked a hotel to ensure accommodation.
We had some good encounters in hosting but some unusual personalities at times which meant we put more constraints on our expectations of our guests. No dishonest people, just annoying in some ways.
We were guests on 2 occasions, Once in France and once in our home country. Mainly we hosted but not at the moment. We will probably stop hosting altogether but remain in Warmshowers until we decide.
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Old 04-12-22, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by debade
With Warm Showers growth, we have found that there are more people who seem to view it as a tool for them to save money and not necessarily as a community.
I never thought of that as necessarily a terrible thing. I always assumed that folks would be using it to get help and may not be hosting. I was fine with that. The only time I felt like they crossed the line was when they weren't actually touring. When we realized that a few were just hopping around town from host to host and staying until their welcome was worn out was when I felt that they were over the line. I never minded helping someone on a tight budget or even a cheapskate who wanted a free stay for a night.

Personally I never used WS too much as a guest. Only a rare stay or some logistical help here or there. Most of my hosts were folks I met on the road or folks I met on various forums before a tour.

Maybe I never really embraced the spirit of WS, but I did use it was a way to pay forward some of the hospitality I received from folks I met through other channels.
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Old 04-12-22, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
From what I understand, if you use, you must provide in return. Fair enough.
You are supposed to be willing to host. If you can't or don't feel comfortable with a particular guest for some reason, then don't. But required, no. I do host and enjoy it a lot primarily because about half of my guests are international and I enjoy hearing their tales from the road. Most touring cyclists are overall the same type of people with a sense of adventure, love for the road, etc. Those that want to be hosted probably enjoy the social interaction too. One way to reduce any concerns is be very specific in YOUR wishes, i.e. no smoking, must arrive/leave by X time, etc. and then read the feedback for the guest before committing. Also, be honest and factual but not nitpicky with your feedback about them.

Try it, you might like it.
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Old 04-12-22, 06:56 AM
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I've been a member for many years. I've mostly hosted, but I've stayed with hosts a handful of times. All of my experiences have been very good, and several have been outstanding. The "feedback" feature was a big improvement whereby hosts and guests can give public feedback about one another.

In recent years, however, the organization has changed significantly. It used to be a completely volunteer organization. Then a paid IT worker was hired and donations were solicited. I found that understandable. But then the powers-that-be started charging members to use the app. Then the powers-that-be started charging new members to join. I don't recall any discussion among the vast membership of WarmShowers taking place before most of these changes were implemented. Also, it has never been clear to me who decides who will run the organization. The organization certainly doesn't seem to be run democratically. Apparently, any attempt to discuss these changes on the WarmShowers forums are not permitted. Because of these fairly major changes, a group of people have begun a new group they call "Open Alternative to WarmShowers" and they have a facebook group.

I used to make donations to the organization before they started charging people who want to become members. I'm still a member but I stopped donating because I'm troubled by these changes, the lack of transparency, and unwillingness to allow open discussion of these changes.
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Old 04-12-22, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I never thought of that as necessarily a terrible thing. I always assumed that folks would be using it to get help and may not be hosting. I was fine with that. The only time I felt like they crossed the line was when they weren't actually touring. When we realized that a few were just hopping around town from host to host and staying until their welcome was worn out was when I felt that they were over the line. I never minded helping someone on a tight budget or even a cheapskate who wanted a free stay for a night.

Personally I never used WS too much as a guest. Only a rare stay or some logistical help here or there. Most of my hosts were folks I met on the road or folks I met on various forums before a tour.

Maybe I never really embraced the spirit of WS, but I did use it was a way to pay forward some of the hospitality I received from folks I met through other channels.
l think we are mostly in agreement. Let me explain. If invited to a friendís for a party, you are expected to share conversation and such. There are roles for guests too. If you go to dinner with a take away box, you are really not part of the get together.

I am delighted to host our guests and to lessen their financial burden. Most are on the road a long time. But, I think their role as guest is as important as my role as host. Perhaps this explanation clarified my original comment.
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Old 04-12-22, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by debade
But, I think their role as guest is as important as my role as host.
Well put. And for that reason, I doubt I will ever use WS. Does not suit my personality type so it's probably best that I avoid WS stays.
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Old 04-12-22, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by debade
l think we are mostly in agreement. Let me explain. If invited to a friendís for a party, you are expected to share conversation and such. There are roles for guests too. If you go to dinner with a take away box, you are really not part of the get together.

I am delighted to host our guests and to lessen their financial burden. Most are on the road a long time. But, I think their role as guest is as important as my role as host. Perhaps this explanation clarified my original comment.
Yes. Thanks for the clarification.
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Old 04-12-22, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
From what I understand, if you use, you must provide in return. Fair enough.

Before I truly commit myself (and family) to eventually being a host, I'd like to hear from those who've experienced it. All is great or worst nightmare? (just to be clear, I am wondering about the hosting side of the equation )
My wife and I have had only positive experiences hosting. I enjoy having touring cyclists stay for a night.

I don't say yes to everyone. I screen the requests fairly carefully, and if the person doesn't have some sort of journal or blog that I can look at, then I'm not inclined to accept.

I have mixed feelings about the Warmshowers organization itself, ever since it changed from being a purely volunteer effort into some sort of organized non-profit that actually pays salaries. I think it was fine before when it was kind of an amateur-esque operation.
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Old 04-12-22, 04:02 PM
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Thanks everyone for your feedback. I've "donated'. We'll host, and I'll eventually reply to future threads on the topic

Several nostalgic comments. I'd think that they'd apply to very many initiatives that have been transformed by the Internet. I was actually surprised to read that Warmshowers predates the Internet (Warmshowers 1993, Internet ~ 1994). Not entirely surprising -- the few dedicated enthusiasts of the early days are overwhelmed by hordes of the less committed. AirBnB was largely a social initiative at first, now a business not that different from the hospitality industry.

Membership statistics suggest that the platform is doing well.

The Wikipedia blurb also says that the platform is "shaped by altruism". Good

---

One more thing, perhaps. Several comments regarding guest profiling. I haven't posted on CGOAB, I don't plan on sending a 10-page long resume including pictures and whatnot. On a partially related story, home buyers (the market is crazy in Canada) are known to write an intention letter, attached to their bid, in order to attract sympathy from the seller. To such an extent that intent letter writing has become a cottage industry so you can no longer assume that the prospective buyer is more sympathetic -- (s)he may have paid a more talented ghost writer. I guess that a picture of a bike would be screening enough, although it can easily be faked as well. Rabbit hole.
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Old 02-07-24, 05:35 PM
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Rather than start a new thread, let me revive this relevant-seeming old one and ask: What's been your Warmshowers experience in the past year, both hosting and guesting?
We're about to take the plunge on both sides, with some trepidation, and would like to hear from people who know.
Also, your recent experience with the WS organization?
(And let me know if there's a newer thread. This is the first dedicated thread that the search function finds.)
Thanks
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Old 02-07-24, 11:35 PM
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Excellent experiences. Guest in several homes (US, France, UK) usually the highlight of the day (most hosts are extraordinary people). As a host only once, and paradoxically I wasn't home at the time. I've been told that it went well

Only downside is that it is possible to become "addicted", i.e. to organise a route around hosting opportunities.
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Old 02-08-24, 12:48 AM
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I've both hosted and stayed as a guest and have never had a negative experience. Keep in mind that as a guest your role is to provide socialization, storytelling, and entertainment to the host, so it's not appropriate to just shut yourself in your room upon arrival. For this reason if I'm very tired I prefer to just get a hotel.
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Old 02-08-24, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Well put. And for that reason, I doubt I will ever use WS. Does not suit my personality type so it's probably best that I avoid WS stays.
And then you have to talk and talk and talk and talk again .... to somebody who you never met before. ) ok, sometimes one meets interesting people...
And imagine they cook something what tastes awful! ) no thanks.

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Old 02-08-24, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by str
And then you have to talk and talk and talk and talk again .... to somebody who never met before. ) ok, sometimes one meets interesting people...
And imagine they cook something what tastes awful! ) no thanks.
IKR. One thing I really like about touring is not having to talk to people so much. During a two-week tour that included a stop at my 35th high school reunion I was having dinner with a former classmate who was the grandson of Gen. George S. Patton. I told him about my various trips. He said I must really hate being around people. I replied by telling him that I am around plenty of people most of the time during my "regular life" and that it's nice to take breaks.
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Old 02-08-24, 11:06 AM
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Thanks for the great perspectives, all. The "And then you have to talk and talk" angle hadn't really occurred to us, and while we're generally sociable, we often are less so after a day of pedaling.
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Old 02-08-24, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by str
And then you have to talk and talk and talk and talk again .... [... snip ...]
And imagine they cook something that tastes awful! ) no thanks.
Not always. I've had hosts clearly signalling that they weren't into chitchat.
WRT food ... I don't recall a time where I felt like going urgently to the nearest restaurant afterwards. Usually an interesting mean to discover what "the locals" eat, which often has little to do with what you can get in a restaurant or cook on a camping stove.

I've had a few "help yourself with what's in the fridge"; a few "we'll improvise, what food do you have with you -- I happened to have tortillas, that ended up toasted; or some corn that's been tossed into a chili; a few "I am vegan, but you can have some hummus if you'd like -- excellent. and with fabulous Medjoul dates for dessert; and the great "there a nice chinese/thai/italian/etc restaurant 5 minutes from here". WS is a great way to learn about people.
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Old 02-08-24, 06:25 PM
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We haven't had many guests since Covid, just one each in the past couple of years, and I haven't toured since then. I still enjoy the guests and will use it again next time I hit the road.

I've never showed up expecting food, and neither have our guests. If someone asks to use our kitchen to boil some pack food, we always manage convince them to put that away and eat some something good.
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