Host long-distance cyclists and the world will come straight to your living room…
Stay with local people wherever you are cycling to learn about the places you are traveling through.
What is it?
Warmshowers is a network of people who open their homes to long-distance bicyclists, totally free of charge. These people connect through a website, warmshowers.org. If you are traveling on a bicycle, this is a great way to save money, clean up, get a good night’s sleep, and to meet local people.
How does it work?
Warmshowers works based on what I call the “capital of kindness”. This sounds hippy-dippy, but read on to find out how it works.
1. If you are looking for a Warmshowers host to stay with, you will scroll along a map which shows the hosts in the area you are traveling through. You can click on a host and read their information before requesting to stay with them.
2. On every profile, you can read the host’s statement about themselves. Anyone could lie about this, so it is important to read reviews left by other cyclists who have stayed with this host. If the host has fifty positive reviews written by a variety of cyclists from all around the world, it is unlikely that the host is a serial killer.
3. Next, you submit a request. Usually you include some information about yourself and your journey.
4. The host will view your profile to make sure that you are not a serial killer or a weirdo. One of the first things the host will do is read your reviews. If you have lots of positive reviews, the host is more likely to accept your request. Many hosts like to see that you contribute reciprocally to the system, so they will look to see if you have hosted in the past.
THIS IS THE TRICK! To increase your chances of being hosted when you are traveling, it helps to host people when you are not traveling to increase the amount of positive reviews on your profile. This is why many people host. It is an economy of hospitality that pays back the more you give.
5. The host will accept you if they are willing/able to host you, and reject your request if not.
Other Important Things to Note
1. You are never under any obligation to host anyone or stay with anyone. If you are on the website, you can reject anyone anytime for any reason.
2. Since cyclists know how difficult long distance cycling can be, hosts often offer more than a simple bed and shower. Most times I have used the Warmshowers network, my hosts have also cooked a high-carb dinner and shared beer or wine.
Safety and Concerns
1. Read people’s profiles and reviews carefully before either hosting cyclists or requesting to stay with a host. After establishing contact, share facebook information and/or speak on the phone if you want more verification. The chances of encountering dangerous hosts or cyclists on this network are very small, but you can further reduce the chances if you are worried.
2. What about female solo travelers? As a male my knowledge of this is limited, but I can say that there are several options for increasing safety if this is a concern. As a traveler, you can seek out hosts who are families, couples, or women only accepting female travelers. As a host, you can limit the people you accept to demographics you are comfortable hosting, such as couples and/or fellow women.
Why is it awesome?
It is free.
As a cyclist, few things are better after the end of a long day than a shower, food, beer, and a bed. You also gain rare insight into how people live in the places you are traveling through, whether that be the plains of Oklahoma or the wetlands of the Netherlands. Finally, the host acceptance rate is much higher than on other free travel web-networks since the community of cyclists is smaller.
As a host, you get to meet interesting and adventurous people from around the world without even needing to travel. You will probably be inspired to travel to places which had never even been on your radar. And there is something very rewarding about serving a tired cyclist a big bowl of pasta and a strong IPA.
You need to be traveling on a bicycle to be hosted on this website.