What I learned from couchsurfing

I learned how to throw a freesbee perfectly!

And there’s more…

For some years now I am an Couchsurfing enthousiast. It has been very interesting to have travelers at home and being part of, and even facilitating their adventure.

While preparing this trip I discovered also Warmshowers.org. Which has the same idea, only focusing on bicycle travelers.

The idea of these platforms is based on the sharing economy. You are at the same time host and guest. During your regular working life, you can accommodate the world at your place, and while travelling you are hosted on the road.

Not a free bed for the night

Most of the articles about these platforms will tell you it’s a great way to travel for free. The more I experience this way of traveling, the more I get annoyed when people say this is the way to travel for free. Yes, it is part of the low budget travel book, but for me – now traveling on long term – ‘meeting the locals’ is the most important part of it. It gives you a way to travel between the locals. Travelling from country to country and still having a foot in the door of a local guy or girl.

Guest ´wall’ in Sweden.

If you play the game by its rules, then it is not free. Hosting people will cost you money. There is no denying that, a bit of water, laundry, the content of your fridge,… it is not much, but it is certainly not nothing. Simple as it is, you host your guests the way you would like to be hosted!

Getting some enthusiastic help in Germany

Ok, Now it is settled that it is not free. I want to go even further: I want to add that there is a gain, a profit for both parties, hosts and guests. Meeting those completely unknown, even accepting them in your house. Having conversations about all kind of subjects. Increasing your trust in ‘the other’. Getting some local info, being served, or help preparing local food! The tips from the locals on nice roads, must-see places that are in no travel guide,…

Free home delivery of travel experiences!

Let me warm you up to start considering hosting people “for free”.

Let me start with the majority of you, who are too busy: I’ll tell you, you are not! To start with, you stay at home. The guest comes to you, how easy is that! Further on, YOU make the rules! You decide if and when the guest arrive. When they leave. Where they stay.

Warm shower hosts in Belgium

Next on the list of questions is how you cope with complete strangers in your house? Well, rather easily, both platforms have an elaborated profile page and works with references. Look for guests with similar interests. Or if you’re new to the game of hosting, select the requests of people with a lot of experience, I’m sure they’ll be happy to share their experience, the funny stories and strange ones about these encounters. You will quickly look forward to your next guest.

All those Ortlieb bags demonstrate you are at a warm shower host

I discovered that there are quite a lot of people who only host, just for the fun of having people around, chat about travel experiences and all other kinds of subjects. If you don’t have time to travel yourself, just get yourself some travellers on a Tuesday night!

Time for some repair with a tea.

The difference between Ws & Cs is, for warmshower guests you need more food, because these cyclist are always hungry”

A key aspect to make this work is to communicate. Ask questions, give clear direction on timing, what time they can come, when they have to leave… ask for example from where they come and how, as a local it is easier for you to calculate the time needed. Although mostly diner is together, you do not to have to cook, remember, it’s your rules.

About this communication, always take in account that often none of you is texting in their mother tongue. Things can sound strange, but are mostly well intended.

So…go, registers & try. You’ll enjoy it!