bike touring tips: free hospitality networks

Sounds too good to be true?  It's not!

Couchsurfing and Warm Showers are worldwide on-line networks for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.  Couchsurfing is for all travelers and Warm Showers is a special network of people who want to host touring cyclists.  Both services are entirely free and you have no obligation to host people in your home country. Although no doubt you will want to because it's so much fun.

Couchsurfing and Warm Showers are not just about free accommodation, though that is a bonus. It is the best way to travel and actually meet people and get into the culture as you travel around the world.

how does it work?

Becoming a member of Couchsurfing or Warm Showers is a simple, free process.  Just log-on to the site, set up a profile for yourself and search for a place to stay in almost any country.  You can conduct advanced searches and find people with similar interests or in a particular age group or just scroll through the profiles until you find a profile of someone who sounds interesting to you.

Then send an email to the prospective host and tell them a little about yourself and your travel plans.  It's as easy as that.

but isn't the whole concept a little weird?

Staying with complete strangers does sound a bit odd at first.  I must admit we were on the road more than a year and a half before we summoned up the courage to try out couchsurfing.  Now I wish we hadn't waited so long.  

Through Couchsurfing and Warm Showers, you'll connect with many fascinating people and have the chance to see the world from so many different perspectives.  Plus staying at someone's home is a nice break from life on the road.  What a pleasure to switch on the coffee machine in the morning, relax in a steaming hot bath, prepare a meal together in a well-equipped kitchen.  Pure bliss after roughing it in the tent.

tips for a successful couchsurfing experience

  1. Search for a host well in advance.  Most couchsurfers appreciate a little notice.
  2. Be clear about your expected arrival date and keep your host informed if you are delayed.
  3. Spend time checking out your hostís profile.  This will give you some good ideas for conversation starters and common interests.
  4. Be sure to help out around the house.  If youíre staying a few days, think about preparing a special meal for your host.
  5. Relax and be yourself.  Itís okay to tell your host that youíd rather hang out at the house than go for a whirlwind sightseeing tour.

Log on to Couchsurfing or Warm Showers now, set up your profile and start making friends around the world.

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What are your experiences with Couchsurfing or Warm Showers?  Any tips for making the most of your stay with hosts from these organizations? 

Please share in the comments section below.


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