Finding accommodation is a key challenge when organizing a trip, especially abroad, where accommodation costs can significantly burden the budget. One of the most appreciated aspects of solo travel is the opportunity to spend time with local people. That's what people are, they make, that traveling becomes so enriching. But where to look for a local host on your way?
Definitely on the way :). But sometimes you can plan it.
What is Warmshowers?
Warmshowers.org emerged as a solution for cycling travelers - it is a global platform for cyclists to find other cycling enthusiasts, ready to welcome them into their homes during their journey. This is Coachsurfing for cyclists. Frequent travelers can count on more than just the proverbial "warm shower" and a place to sleep, but also access to the kitchen, bathrooms, and even storage of luggage or bicycles, they are often hosted for dinner. Sometimes a room is provided, sometimes a bed or a piece of floor or a place to pitch a tent.
Above all, it's an opportunity to meet GREAT PEOPLE, learning something about life in another country or city. The hosts, as locals, will also give us the best tips on interesting places in the area and choosing a route. They often help too, even when they are not at home – they will tell you, where to pitch a tent or arrange accommodation with family.
What can we give in return??
Each, who will benefit from the hospitality, is encouraged to offer similar assistance in the future. But some – to which I belong – They don't often have this opportunity and that's ok.
Is the service paid??
For many years it didn't, YES for some time now. A ONE-TIME fee is required from each registrant 30 USD. Taking into account, that it will pay off, often after just one visit, there is nothing to complain about.
How Warmshowers works?
After registering on portal we provide contact details and location, We also determine whether we can accept guests and on certain terms. Everything is important - including the type of accommodation, how long before we want to be informed about the visit, whether we offer a meal or not. THE RICHER THE DESCRIPTION, THE BETTER. It's a good idea to lock your profile while you're away, to inform, that we are not at home.
Rather DO NOT USE THE APPLICATION (February 2024) just visit the website even via mobile phone. Users complain a lot about it, that it does not send notifications, there are problems with recording opinions. Perhaps this will improve soon.
Note - the current appearance of the website leaves much to be desired, but the creators of Warmshowers announce the closure of the website and revitalization in the first week of March 2024.
How we look for potential "hosts" at Warmshowers?
This website allows you to easily locate these people on a map. Unfortunately, many people do not care about their profile, doesn't read messages and many of them are inactive, so let's check while searching, when the person last logged in. First of all, let's also read OPINIONS.
Opinions on Warmshowers
Są najważniejsze. Po gościnie bądź po goszczeniu kogoś KONIECZNIE zostawmy kilka zdań (najczęściej podziękowania) on the portal. To ważne zarówno dla osoby, who hosts you as well as this one, who is hosted - this way it will be easier to find a person who will be willing to open the door to us. When something was wrong – oh well, you might want to consider describing it in a very sensitive way. Let's not leave negative feedback, if someone hasn't replied! Unfortunately, I have seen such actions. He has the right to do so, or the technology has simply failed. Sometimes I received an apology after half a year.
Napisanie do kogoś, by zostawił nam opinię też jest ok. W podróży i w codziennym życiu często to wypada z głowy.
Warmshowers is not (only) free accommodation. For a person, which hosts you is an event, that need to be organized. One of the worst "crimes" that hosts are discouraged from committing is NOT COMMUNICATING AND CANCELING THE SCHEDULED ARRIVAL. It is clear, It's hard to have a plan when traveling by bike, but in the age of mobile phones and the Internet, there are really very few cases where you can find an excuse for such behavior.
– others, Not such a rare behavior is NOT TAKING TIME TO TALK TO THE HOST. Serious, they are hosting you for a reason, It is was not a hotel. Most often, they want to hear about your experiences, not only from travel, but also about life. For your consolation I will add, that they know perfectly well, that at the end of the day you are not bursting with energy. If you don't feel like talking (quite common for me) then spend the night somewhere else.
Unfortunately, I heard opinions from the host several times, that someone was there and after a short "good morning" he locked himself in the room, he went to the tent, he was on the Internet all the time etc. And that they don't want such guests. I think, że jest gdzieś złoty środek.
QUESTIONS (FAQ) regarding WARMSHOWERS:
Czy łatwo jest “znaleźć gospodarza”?
It varies. Najczęściej trudno w bardzo popularnych i uczęszczanych miejscach. The worst country in this respect around 50 where I have been - yes, Italy! Włochy są po prostu bardzo atrakcyjnym miejscem a gospodarze dostają dużo zapytań.
Są jednak takie miejsca, where people would really like to host, but they live in a less frequented place. Są też tacy gospodarze, who will gladly accept almost any number of travelers – especially, if they have e.g. space for tents.
As a rule, we have to devote a lot of time to sending a PERSONALIZED inquiry (that is, we read, what is written on the host's profile) to many people, sometimes no one will answer.
Do I need to bring anything from myself?, some gift?
It's a nice gesture, but I think, that is often unnecessary. I have a rule, that I'm cooking a simple dinner (potato pancakes :), if I am in a place for more than one night. Someone can bring wine etc. You definitely need to have food with you, the host doesn't always want to feed either!
Can I request more than one overnight stay??
The rule is one, but of course you can. Sometimes I ask for two, and it happened to me, that I stayed for a few days or a week – it depended on the place and situation – sometimes even the host lives elsewhere, or has a separate floor for guests etc.
How far in advance to look for accommodation?
I would suggest not overdoing it, two months earlier, not necessarily, several days- a week in advance is enough. However, there are such situations, that it is better to write much earlier – I recently did this when asking about accommodation in a popular place during a cycling event and the host responded, that's very good, that I'm asking so early, because he has a lot of requests at the last minute.
There are also such hosts, who don't mind last minute questions, same day (it's written on the profile). My rule – predicts, that between such a day and such I will be in the region and I am sending an introductory question, and then we make an appointment, I will confirm it a day or two before. That's what many guests did. However, sometimes I fly somewhere or fly somewhere and I know the exact date – then please come earlier.
Can I request accommodation even during a short trip??
Yep, although I noticed it in conversations with the hosts, that those in popular places, receiving numerous inquiries, often prefer travelers on longer trips. I think, że – podobnie na innych portalach tego typu – łatwiej jest, kiedy mamy już pozytywne opinie.
Są z pewnością gospodarze, dla których jest to obojętne.
Once, at the beginning of my adventure with WS, I heard from the host, że “if someone comes here for two weeks on vacation, to może sobie zapłacić za noclegi” – ale tu chodziło o odległe miejsce poza Europą, w którym jest bardzo niewielu gospodarzy. He had to make a selection.
Edit. In this case I would like to find out, as it was in your case, what is the response on a short trip, my approach was considered stereotypical.
Is it safe to use WARMSHOWERS??
I have never encountered any dangerous situation and I have not heard about it from others.
Could there be any problems with WARMSHOWERS?
Except like this, that somehow, on a human level, there is no chemistry between us and the host, perhaps the most common fact is, that for many people, being a guest is too tiring after a long day on the bike, they do not find the strength for social contacts. I often identify with this too.
My story with WARMSHOWERS
I joined Warmshowers just before this, when I rented my apartment and went out into the world. Unfortunately, due to this, I was not able to host. I was hoping to open the door during 8 months of working in China and that's why I rented a two-room apartment, but unfortunately in Xinjiang province there is an absolute ban on hosting anyone at home and I couldn't do it. I only opened the door recently, in Puglia and it was a great experience!
Anecdotes and memories
It is impossible to mention the number of meetings with people around the world and the memories, these are just some:
My adventure with Warmshowers has begun.. w Los Angeles w 2012 year. It was an unusual overnight stay by all means - first of all, it was on a boat in the marina, secondly, I didn't have a smartphone back then, the phone didn't work in America.. I have no idea how I got there on time and found the meeting place.
In Bangkok, I had the opportunity to live for a week in the unused apartment of one of the cyclists. We are still in touch, she was in Poland.
Host in Iran (admittedly from Coachsurfing, although I hardly use it) canceled my arrival on the day of arrival. After 3 months, he contacted me through another channel, apologizing, that the secret police told him to cancel the overnight stay. They clearly have access and view applications - I've already seen this at the border.
In Burma, I was lucky to be hosted by the only host in this country. Thanks to this, I was able to acclimatize and learn something practical about this country.
It was similar in Oman - I was lucky to be hosted by the only host in this country, even in his absence
I was also lucky to be hosted in Dubai, New York with two hosts in very wealthy districts.
In South Korea, I was the first guest of one guy, jego rodzice bardzo się przejęli i niemal siłą wsadzili na fotel relaksujący 🙂
Korzystałam kiedyś z gościny gospodarza w Turcji, który miał kilka dobrych opinii, niepokoił mnie tylko fakt, że nie mówi on po angielsku. However, good opinions confirmed my belief, to try. After driving, the very enthusiastic host showed me to the apartment, which was just terribly cluttered – but I don't require house cleaning for my ride. There were three rooms, I got a couch in the "TV room". that's 23:00, when I was already going to sleep, the host entered the room, he turned on the TV and told me not to disturb him and just go to sleep, and he watches TV. I went completely crazy, because the last thing I wanted at that moment, it's TV in the room. I gathered myself and asked him, explaining, that I won't fall asleep after all, to which he proposed to me – really without any sexual undertones – lie down on his bed in his bedroom.
I was there after all 3 days. The man came and went, he was gone a lot. In the middle of the night I woke up and heard, that someone is walking around the apartment – what's more, he's not my host. I felt a little weird about it, However, I fell asleep and in the morning I asked the host, whether anyone was in the apartment – he replied – “yes, but he's my son and we're not talking to you". J
In the end, however, he really helped me a lot, both to arrange a bicycle box and to transport me to the airport – I can't say anything bad about him at all, but it made me realize that we have different approaches J
Another owner in this country had a cat that was very stressed out by me and didn't leave the corner all night long.
My dears hosts in Poland – I won't count you, although it is in Poland that I send the fewest inquiries.
I send huge words of gratitude to everyone, who wanted to share the couch and his life with me.
If you can, join us!