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Give as much notice as you can about your request by making contact ahead of time, most of the people you are encountering still have their everyday responsibilities to attend to.
Respect your hosts' property/belongings, don’t use anything you haven’t been given permission to use, including phone, computer, and internet connection. If you are in a country you are not native to, make adjustments for cultural differences. Adhere to requests for alcohol prohibitions, and religious observances. As much as this is about your journey, show some interest in the life of your host as well.
Discuss expectations with your host about meals and/or kitchen privileges, bathroom usage, and sleeping arrangements. Are you allergic to pets? Inquire if pets are part of the household.
This is not a hotel, you are in someone’s home, always pick up after yourself and offer assistance as appropriate.
Treat your host the way you’d like to be treated if you were offering your home to them. Keep agreements made about time and place, if your schedule changes for any reason, let your host know.
If you feel uncomfortable about the situation for any reason, don’t agree to stay. If something does not feel right in your first conversations, it likely isn’t a good fit for you, listen to that and pass on the opportunity.
Even if they insist, remember what Benjamin Franklin said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Limit your time with any one host, do not overstay your welcome.
Show your appreciation by contributing to shared meals with food stuffs, a special beverage, cleaning up, and the like. Before leaving, get their mailing address and send them a postcard of thanks from the road. Or email a favorite picture of your time with them/in their area. For many hosts, having bicycle travelers as guests is a vicarious travel thrill. When asked, share stories or pictures of your adventure. Reciprocate by asking about their travels or bicycling experiences.
Whether you like it or not, your behavior is a reflection of the bicycle travel community as a whole. Be a kind, courteous and respectful guest so that others may enjoy this same hospitality in the future. If your host is part of the Warm Showers network, leave feedback on their profile for the benefit of other bicycle travelers.
If all of this sounds like too much to think about as part of your trip, being a guest in someone’s home may not be your best option for accommodation. If you’re craving a break or time alone, it might not be the right time to say yes to the offer of a bed indoors. Be aware of your limits and needs and honor them for everyone’s sake.
Thanks to Adventure Cycling for this article originally published as How to be a good guest in the series Bicycle Travel Etiquette
Additional opinions are wanted on this topic! We need a page on "How to be a good guest". But it needs to not include too many cultural assumptions.
I've taken the liberty of renaming this post to "How to be a good guest" and minor edits.
Entirely agree Randy
Would also add
involve the rest of the family in your conversation and just be considerate and appreciative.
Pitch in with work around the house whenever possible.
Maybe times have changed...so far I have not had anyone who didn't follow all of the rules above, except perhaps the postcard, which I absolutely don't mind. It is thoughtful to give a nice recommendation through WS though. I like those.
For those who don't provide the requested lead time, I just say no. Its supposed to be fun, not stressful, to have travelers in my home.
Thank you Frosty Wooldridge for bringing this up at the most right moment at least for me :)
I just feel quite the same as you, especially after hosting 2 cyclists of warmshowers recently.
First one was still better, had long good conversations and was respectful and understanding, but the second one, who just left today morning, had no respect for me, and even one member of them stopped conversing with me in between our conversation and behaved very rudely. I was surprised and taken a back, this is the first time someone behaved with me at my home in such a manner, mind you, I keep on hosting people since 2008 via various traveling communities, irrespective of where I am, so I am not a novice to hosting.
Cyclists certainly should take care of many things you mentioned. They cannot treat hosts and their place as a mere free place to stay at, and they cannot expect to get everything for free by staying at their host place. They are ready to spend on hotels when they get a chance to stay at a hotel on their cycling tour, but surprisingly they are not at all in a mood to spend some money while staying at their hosts place.
None of the cyclists I hosted had a sim card(local). I didn't see that trend in other guests ever, whom I hosted via other traveling communities.
They didn't even pick up their plates and didn't ask as to where they should put it. I had to ask them to do it.
They slept early(9:30 pm), and closed the doors, though, me and my family needed certain clothes from there at night and early in the morning. They slept till late(8am-9am) and my family faced difficulty as they have to clean the room.
They again slept after few hours(10/11 am or so) and closed the room again. My mother asked me to ask them to not close the door, so I had to request them.
They occupied the room the entire day and night(almost 23 hours), instead of going out and doing something worthwhile.
It was disgusting. Cyclists certainly need to learn a lot of sensible and good ways of staying as a guest at anyone's place.
I am even thinking to not host any cyclists after this bad experience of mine. It will certainly take a long time for me to get back to hosting cyclists from anywhere. I will try to be much more cautious from now on.
Did you give them a bad review so they will no longer have people hosting them? There should be a way that your account can be flagged and your ID checked so that another account cannot be made.
No, Travis, I haven't thought about it yet.
I do not think that I will write a negative for them, because it only creates tension for you yourself if you write any negative reference for anyone.
I have just marked them as unresponsive on their profile, though, they marked me responsive while staying at my place.
They even used our soap to bath instead of using theirs. I'm getting to know more things about them from my family now.
..."it only creates tension for you yourself if you write any negative reference" ..
I just don't get this opinion...
How can anyone feel under tension by writing a fair response ??
Is this a cultural topic.. ? On Couchsurfing there is way more developed site to leave reference on your guests. And it is used. -Sometimes creating a lively debate on the whole community when someone has messed up.
I find it is a sound and necessary way of keeping a community alive, and maybe even teach each other some decent manners (...what ever that might be ;-)
I understand your feelings when someone is acting rude in your own home. Respect for handling it so relaxed in the situation !
I'm pretty sure i would have asked this person to leave right away..
it is your obligation to post negative feedback for bad guests. if you do not wish to do this please delete your account. you are putting other hosts in bad positions by not sharing this very important information.
again, it is your responsibility to this community to post feedback, especially for bad experiences. if you cannot do this please delete your account for the safety and wellbeing of the rest of us
What you state is a bit strong but true. Warmshowers or any travel share online community must have
open and honest postings to work. I have hosted 50 or so bicyclists in the 4 seasons that I have been a member. So far everyone I have hosted would be welcome to stay here again. All have been given positive feedback by me. But if I did host someone who I was not comfortable with or felt that they were not good folks to open your home to, it is my duty to let folks on down the road from me know that. I would not be very happy with the hosts up the road from me who did not give me a heads up that a guest was a bad fit
You do not have to be mean or vengeful in your feedback, just truthful. Certainly keep cultural differences in mind and allow for those. Part of the fun is to meet folks that have totally different backgrounds than you.
Also many problems can be avoided all together by simply stating your expectations clearly in your profile. Let them know what you are offering , beds, foods, prepared meals, whatever.
I have bounced around various host's profiles and have seen some with very few details. it may take a few minutes to spell out your message, but it is well worth it knowing that folks looking to crash at your place know what to expect.
If you need an example of how to do it, please review mine. I have gotten feedback that folks like it.
Okay off my soapbox
Yes, it is the duty of every host (and guest) to leave feedback for every hosting experience. The vast majority of the time this is going to be positive, but when it's negative it's not about being polite, it's about protecting the rest of the community. The only way we can handle this number of members is for the community to police itself, and feedback is the way that happens.
If you're afraid of retaliatory or tit-for-tat feedback, please let us know if it happens. We don't allow it and we'll remove or moderate it.
More questions about feedback? See the FAQ.
Thanks to all of you for taking care of our incredible community.
Thank you Randy for making it very clear ALL members need to post feedback as part of the community. I appreciate your work on the site as well as this request. Happy travels!
I'm pretty laid back about it all. I don't care if someone calls on the day they arrive, we have had some great guests that way. Politics and religion are fine here, I love to know what people are passionate about. I think that as a good host I'm happy to feed travellers and its great to see them relax after a long day in the saddle. We have been on this list long enough to know that cyclists need a shower, lots of food, access to the Internet, a comfortable bed, maybe use of the washing machine and possibly advice on alternative roads. If they want to help with household tasks they're welcome but I don't expect it. Mostly I just like to settle down after dinner and hear about their adventures, the dishes can wait. I can't think of any bad experiences with the Warmshowers crew. The main concern I have is that my heart yearns to be on the road every time our guests leave.
After 13 years of WS membership, these are my ideas of.... >>>
An ideal guest :
In their first communication >>
1. Indicates initially how long they want to stay
2. Indicates approximately when they will arrive ( what day, if possible)
3. Gives some perspective to their trip ( where are they cycling from, where are they going… ? )
4. Indicates if camping in the garden is acceptable
When they arrive >>
5. Tries to arrive in daylight if possible
6. They will bring some (small) item of food – a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine…(etc) to share with the host, especially if the host is feeding them
7. Careful not to dirty host’s home ( eg, with greasy hands..)
8. Respects Host’s unusual food habits ( eg vegetarian etc)
9. Tries to be aware of peculiarities of hosts situation ( eg water shortage etc)
10. Offers ( at least ) to do some small chore for the Host - guests absorb a lot of Host’s time just by being there.
1. advance notice good but last minute might work too. does not hurt to ask
i have never had less than 8-9 hours notice.
2. make yourself comfortable. you are more than likely been in biking gear, shoes, etc all
day. they might be sweaty, wet with rain, dirty with mud. whatever, get comfy. I always point out where the shower is first. as for dressing after the shower make yourself comfortable. I too will be comfortable.
3. as a bachelor don't expect immaculate housekeeping on this end. do hang the used towel over something to let it dry is about all i ask.
4. strange house getting around at night might be tricky, an extra light on overnight won't bust anyone's budget. better safe than fumbling in the dark down a stairs.
5. conversing on a topic that we might not agree on is good for both parties. Chances are after a night's sleep your paths wiill part so chat away
6. yes keeping it all in one place makes a lot of sense , far less likely to pedal off without it
I do have guests bring all food inside, racoons have been known to get curious overnight
7. after dinner. sure bring the plates over and stick in the dishwasher. other than that
kick back take a load off share a story, check your email. whatever
8. could not have said it better myself yes Thank You is great to hear
9. post card would be fun to get. but more so be sure to sign my guest book, let me take your pic to add it to the book, AND next time you get a chance provide me some feedback on WS.
10. If my collection of 25 or so guests over the past 3 years is any indication of the quality of WS pedalers, and I think it is, then the world has some great young people with a zest for life coming up to take over as us baby boomers age.
I understand the need for a protocol document; however, no document will ever include everything that might come up. The attitude of a guest and their protocol should be, at the minimun (remember, they are called "GUESTS"): respect, appreciation, make no assumptions, approach your host as though they are doing you a huge favor (which they are) for which you can only pay back through your attitude and behavior, and maybe a small gift (after all the guest will be on a bike!).
Starting the time together, after introductions, there should be a simple discussion of expectations. This should be lead by the Host, but if the Host doesn't do it, then the Guest should initiate the conversation. Getting the expectations clear up front will solve many problems.
So I just signed up here and am taking a look around. I look forward to hosting cyclists, and hope it is as rewarding as other hospitality sites I've tried. I also hope they will bless me with sincerity and passion, and if we disagree this is ok! guidelines like 'no religious / political discussion' fall better under 'be culturally sensitive' or something, as not all cultures have this aversion to genuine discussion that some do. I also hope they will feel free to contact me whenever, and if too early or last minute requests do not suit me I will be free to not accept them...
I think that's a good guideline to add. Some people don't know that just expressing their religious or political convictions with everyone they meet is not necessarily polite.
These are things you can put on your own profile.
I do not want people phoning me at the last minute so i tell them so up front. Like she says in the article, tell your potential guests what's acceptable and what's not because we have different needs.
The list given in the article is the safest starting position. That's why its a very good list.
This is my first year as a WS member, and I've yet to receive a "please host" request. I have, however, been a guest four or five times. My first time, I didn't know what to expect, or what might be expected of me. Luckily the Devlins in Farmville, VA, were very good hosts, and I think we all had a great experience.
What I've been doing is reading the potential host's posting very carefully. If they list bed, shower, laundry, meals, I take them at their word. If bed isn't mentioned and I need a bed, I don't contact them. Usually hosts describe their living situation enough to give more guidance. Like "vegetarian", or "vegan", or non-smoking, please don't smoke. They'll frequently mention alcohol. Some say "we'll provide". Some say "open pantry". If those things are mentioned, I don't assume that they're available. If they want a week's notice, and it's only 2 days out, I don't contact them.
Since I really like to relax after a day's riding with a few beers or glasses of wine, I've taken to stopping at what I hope is the last convenience/grocery store and buying a six-pack or a 750ml. If alcohol isn't mentioned at all, I'll ask them if it's okay if I bring some. Generally, hosts have been more than generous with both food and beverages.
If they don't offer sag support, I don't ask. I don't expect anything that isn't offered up front. But if it's offered, then I'm not embarrassed to ask.
Am I being cheap in not offering to buy dinner for my hosts? I don't think so. It seems logical to me that when one is using the WS route, that saving money is one of the motives. Yes, it's a way to meet interesting people, but that can happen in lots of places. If I traveled with camping gear, I'd probably camp--after all, that's the point of camping gear. And no, I don't ride with a bedroll. If I can't find a WS host where I need to be, I'll stay in a motel.
I do try to be considerate. I take leads from my hosts about what time they want to do things. Do they want to sit around and talk? Watch tv? What time to head off to bed? I for sure let them know what time I hope to be up and out. If they offer to fix me breakfast in the morning, I take them up on it. If not, I'm up and out as quietly as possible. Bathroom and towels are as I found them, though used things are segregated from clean. I ask about stripping the bed.
Luckily I've yet to encounter a host who didn't earn a resoundingly positive evaluation from me. And I hope that the hosts I've stayed with found me to be a friendly, appreciative guest. Three of the hosts I've stayed with rode the first 10-15 miles of my next day's ride with me. Another ended up be a riding companion for four days (and yes, we in turn stayed at a WS host one of those evenings).
So I need some riders to come by our place in Cary, NC.
+ 1 Steve...very well expressed..please call by here :)
I'm enjoying these posts but what is a "SAG"?
SAG = Support And Gear, usually means a small truck or van carrying gear and bicycle bits for riders. In the case of Warmshowers it usually means the host is able and willing to come get you if you have trouble or is willing and able to carry you out of town if doing that on a bicycle is considered too difficult.
Thanks good to know!
Great suggestions!!!! We have been the recipients of wonderful experiences of staying with gracious and generous hosts. We have found hosting cyclists can be a fun and rewarding experience as well as less than positive. Here are a couple of additional suggestions for the cyclist.
1. Share a story about your adventure. You can enrich other people's lives through sharing your own experiences.
2. Call the day of arrival to confirm your schedule and a couple of hours prior to arrival to advise the host of where you are and when you are plan to arrive.
3. Be considerate of the host's habits for turning in and plans and commitments. Ask in advance what time you need to be ready to leave the next morning.
Have fun with your adventure!
Mr. Wooldridge makes some good points that could be used as an educational tool for WarmShowers. Perhaps the best way to use his thoughts would be in our personal profiles. For example, if you do not drink, then mention this so you don't recieve a bottle of wine as a gift from your guest. Perhaps noting dietary habits (vegetarian or vegan) would be another item on the profile. There may be value in WarmShowers occasionally posting a "public service announcement" on the subject of etiquette without the need to target an individual if that can be accomplished on the homepage.
With regards to the religion avoidance, I live in Salt Lake City. Living here brings up a lot of religious questions due to the Mormon influence from non-residents. Also, a lot of bike tourers like to learn about the local area that they are traveling through, which sometimes involves discussion religion in Utah. My wife is very Mormon (LDS) and I am not at all religious. It works for us. So our guests when they ask questions about the local culture receive 2 viewpoints. No problem. Talking about the local culture/religion here in Utah is as common as discussion about the numerous national parks in Utah. Quite frankly, a guest that comes to Utah may want to know if the host is LDS especially if the guest likes to have alcohol or coffee with a meal.
The light idea that one person brought up is good. We use a nightlight for our guest to help guide him/her in a strange house.
Overall we have had nothing but positive experiences with our guests. We've always treated our guests like family, the older traveler like a cousin and the younger ones similar to our now 20-something boys. We adapt as each guest is different. We have found that the older the guest or the more-traveled the guest, the more likely the guest will follow Mr. Wooldridge's suggestions. Julie and I do enjoy the follow up postcards and emails from our guests.
It would be great if profiles had like a chart where people could put "likes a beer after a days ride, Or drinks coffee before anything... Its hard to know what people expect. Or what to expect of people.
This would also work for the host listing as well. "Opens door and says, there you go, never to be seen again" or "opens door and treats you like family".
"It would be great if profiles had like a chart where people could put "likes a beer after a days ride, Or drinks coffee before anything... Its hard to know what people expect. "
Absolutely not! This comes across as a way of guilt tripping the host into accommodating all your little personal needs.
You need to be more thoughtful and considerate as you are the guest. It needs to be you who asks them if they mind if you drink alcohol or if you do this or that.
Try to remember you haven't earned anything and are not owed anything by your host.
If you don't know how to behave in a stranger's house, you need to learn.
But here's the basics:
Fit in with your hosts.
Don't be demanding.
For me at my place there are things a guest can ask for that would not bother me but there are things a demanding guest would ask for that would really annoy me.
Some examples. If you need to make a phone call, or use internet, you could ask about this but then don't sit for hours on their computer if you are using it, don't download movies and waste their package. Just do your essential business and get off. If the host was driving into the city or something like that i would be happy to give the guest a ride if they wanted it. Or if i was driving to the shop i would be happy to take the guest so that they could get what they wanted.
Same with the phone. Only ask for essentials. Its not the place where you would spend a lot of their money or time. Only important things. And if you ask to use the phone, you might at least offer to pay them. I would not advice asking for international phone call use. Skype is a different matter since its free. Don't ask for things that the host might want to say no to because you put your host in the unpleasant position of need to reject you or give in and feel resentment.
Do not ask for food. Do not ask to be shown the sites, do not ask to be run down to the train station or collected from the airport.
Do not leave your belongings in their bathroom overnight.
Do not leave your wet towel on their railings.
Ensure the toilet is not dirty after you've used it.
Do not leave your dirty clothes anywhere but in your own room.
When leaving, strip the bed and take the bedding to the laundry if they've provided it. Leave the room neat. Do not leave any mess whatsoever.
If you are tired and do not want to sit up talking all night, perhaps you can indicate your limitations but its reasonable to expect that the host might like to have a chat and find out about you and your trip. To be unwilling to spend any time with them when they indicate they'd like that would be churlish.
Take a small gift if you can. Doesn't matter how small it is. Its just a token of thanks and an indication that you appreciated of their offer to host you.
I personally do not mind if a guest does not bring a gift but its very nice when they do.
To my mind, offering to cook the host a meal is not the sort of thing i would suggest. One of my guests did it for me once. It didn't upset me but i don't think its the ideal way to go. Unless you are particularly excellent cook. In her case, she did not bring food. She just offered to cook in exchange for dinner and a place to sleep for a few days. She was a nice guest but not a considerate one.
I couldn't agree more with this post - particularly with regard notice (and again on the day ref ETA), shoes, chores and follow up thank you. Call me old fashioned but I even think bringing a small gift is somehow traditional - when Im a guest I'll bring wine & chocolate to cover both bases.
maybe there should be a 'Warmshowers Code' to include all of the original posts points?
Hey fellow cyclists and hosts...
My partner have recently been touring a lot - New Zealand last year, and currently Oregon. We learned about Warm Showers in NZ, from a member that spotted us cycling around town looking for a campground, and generously invited us into their home.
From then on, we have tried out warm showers whenever in a town that does not offer campgrounds, i.e. bigger cities, etc. In my experience, as the one being hosted, there are many times when I am so grateful for warm showers, and there are other times that I greatly regret! That's okay, it's how it goes.
But mainly, I really appreciate this topic being brought up... as from a cyclists perspective, it can be VERY confusing (for me) at how to behave/act/show up as a guest. Everyone's different - we've had hosts that seem like they have a lot of needs for attention, conversation, favors being repaid, etc. etc. and other hosts that seem like they want nothing to do with you. It can be hard to read!
I'm realizing that getting clear from the get go on what everyone's expectations are is the best way to go. But does anyone have any other thoughts on this? Cyclists or Hosts?
That's a good question, Wrenna. Humans being human, there is a great deal of variety. Of course, that applies to every kind of human interaction, not just host and guest.
For me as a host, I know that this entire endeavor is a crap shoot. No host knows what, exactly, to expect of a guest and no guest knows what, exactly, to expect of a host. Anyone who willingly participates in Warmshowers and DOESN'T understand that probably won't be a member for very long.
Knowing that, I have a baseline of behavior for myself when hosting. It starts by saying, "It's your trip. Do what you need to do." Then I give them the nickle tour of my place and walk away. Granted, it's not a big apartment and I can't walk TOO far away. ;-)
I enjoy having a conversation with my guests, maybe drinking a beer or two, and going for a ride if they are so inclined. I like to provide a guided tour of my town but I don't insist on it.
If a guest behaves in a manner I find offensive I let them know how I feel about it. I've only had one (out of about 60) guests that I felt the need to tell to leave and that only after a couple of days when it became clear that this person was troublesome.
I haven't been a guest yet but I imagine being flexible, reasonable, and grateful go a long way. Having a fairly high tolerance for variability helps, I'm sure, and being ready and able to leave quickly when necessary is probably a good thing as well.
I look forward to reading more comments. Reading them will undoubtedly help me plan for my upcoming trip.
I think it would be very helpful if Hosting folks and touring folks put some info on their profiles about what they like. If you want to sit back with the host and have a beer and hear the latest national news that's okay, Or if you want to just come in and get online and update your blog, then go to bed, that's another type of guest I've had. I've hosted people who I meet at the door and said "make your self at home"... and they sure did... cooking, cleaning, setting up beds, doing laundry, using the computers... I was glad to have them be independant. And I've had some who just wanted to be waited on. I think they felt like a guest with no privileges. I want people to be reasonably mannered, but not feel they are imposing. After all... all hosts know what they are getting into... ha ha !
I do get a bit miffed when someone calls me 60 miles out and asks if they can stay the night, and I have to run around and get things ready, and then they don't make it !! That's happened a few to many times lately.
Rick -- & Dogs
In my kayaking club, we call this the "flake factor". I know on a bicycle a lot can change in an instant; a flat tire, a detour in the road, a thunderhead, or a waterfall in a different direction. It is rude when you are expecting someone and they don't bother to contact you and inform you of a change in plans. But like Mark said in the post above, hosting is a crap shoot.
I have been frustrated several times by cyclists not showing. Those who have showed have been stellar guests. If the no-shows would be less than stellar, then maybe it's a good thing they didn't show.
Just go along with them as best you can and be grateful for whatever you receive. And of course you also have needs for sleep and rest. So after doing what you can to meet your hosts expectations, you must also not sit up all night with them because they want you to, when you are exhausted.
Once i had a fairly awkward situation in india,
I rode into a small town where two men immediately offered to help me. I could tell they were decent people and allowed them to take me to the local temple to sleep for the night. I was shown a room that had a pile of old mattresses in. There was a light and i could lock the door. This was all i needed.
But there was also a shower and toilet so that was great too. Even if the water was cold.
One of the men was particularly pleasant and after we'd chatted a little bit in broken English he said he wanted his daughter to meet me. His daughter was 12 but went to english school and had excellent english and she was also a very smart girl. So he brought her back and we had a lovely chat. then they decided they would bring me home to have dinner with them that night. I had a little nap for an hour and then they came to pick me up. The drove me to their house (they were not poor people). I met the wife and other family members but the daughter was the only one who i could communicate easily with and so we had most of hte conversation. I also found out quite a bit earlier that they would eat dinner very late. I had just ridden a veyr long way and had been riding since 7am that morning. So i ate dinner on my own while they talked to me. After this though, there was an expectation that i would go off with the father to meet all his friends.
I felt bad to say i couldn't do that but firstly i was tired and thought this little party might go on for a long time and second, i am a woman and india a woman shouldn't get herself alone at night with a bunch of men, even if you think they are trustworthy. So i had to insist i couldn't go with the father. I am sure this must have upset him a little bit but he should have understood because in india a woman would never do it either. So they drove me back to my room, the daughter coming in the car with me.
I had a very good night's sleep as usual.
One of hte visiting family members also decided i should have a gift which was a bit of a burden for me becuase it was heavy. And i didn't have anything at all to offer them in return. Certianly i had no chance to buy anything and a cyclist does not carry gifts around to give to out on the lucky chance that someone offers them hospitality.
But certainly whever I knew i was going to be staying with someone, i would take a gift and often enough it was just something from the local market which was always received with such pleasure. Usually it would be things like fruit, or some other local delicacy that was within my budget.
Of course there are many situations where i think i could have done better too. But basic rule of thumb is be generous when you can and always grateful for whatever gifts come your way. But bottom line is look after your own safety, health and don't be foolish.
Dear fellow cyclists:
As a host of cyclists in my home and as a long distance bicycle traveler who has visited hosts, I would like to see Warm Showers provide an "Etiquette Protocol" for anyone visiting another person's home. From my experiences with riders who have come into my home, I suspect many hosts have encountered similar lack of personal responsibility and less than positive behaviors.
You will prove yourself a very good guest when you:
1. Call at least two days before you expect to arrive. Last minute calls leaves a host without any planning time and that host may have made other plans.
2. When you arrive, shake hands, introduce yourself, and take off your shoes before entering the house. Or ask if it's okay to run around the house with your shoes on your feet. Keep your shirt on while a guest in someone's house especially with women present.
3. When you take a shower or bath, leave the bathroom as clean or cleaner than you found it. After using the toilet, make sure no visual residue of your waste is left on the porcelain. Take a brush and swirl the toilet bowl.
4. When you go to sleep, make sure all lights are off so you don't waste the host's electricity.
5. Avoid getting into religious or political discussions.
6. Be certain to keep your gear either in the garage or in your room. Avoid leaving your gear scattered all over the place.
7. Offer to wash dishes and clean up the place. Offer to help with dinner. Bring food or ask to pay for food that is served.
8. Exhibit a very grateful and appreciative demeanor while visiting a host. Show and speak your appreciation.
9. As a nice touch, obtain their snail mail address and drop a simple "thank you" postcard from your next attraction. Being "thanked" by a postcard is one of the nicest things you can do. People love to be appreciated.
10. You represent the best or the worst in cyclists; by showing a host your best, you make the world a better place for you and following cyclists both in the USA and overseas.
Live well, laugh often, celebrate and pedal on,
Frosty Wooldridge, 6 continent world bicycle traveler
This is a topic members feel passionate about and present many good ideas. As both a guest and a host, I think discussion of food is important. Often at the end of a day, many cycle-tourist are famished. But I think it is poor etiquette to expect a host to feed you when they may have already eaten or eat light.
One way I deal with this is to tell the host "I will stop and get something to eat first and arrive about 6:00. Can you suggest a good nearby restaurant?" If they then offer a meal, I will likely say "yes" and ask what I can pick up for the meal or for the morning.
As a guest, if you have a special diet, please eat before you show up at my doorstep. It is irksome to prepare a special meal or have my planned meal rejected because it is not to a guest's liking.
As an aside, as a host, I am okay with short notice. As a guest, the chance to do my minimal laundry is much appreciated.
I have hosted dozens of cyclists and have had no bad guests. This suggests that it is not difficult to be a good guest. Or perhaps I am lucky - I live in a remote area and only the hardy and resourceful reach me.
My main although minor gripes about guests are as follows, in order of decreasing importance:
1. Not knowing what if any arrangements to make about the evening meal of the first night when I start to get hungry and my guests have not arrived.
In my case it is difficult for cyclists to predict their arrival time because of the vagaries of the road and weather. They have limited options for telephone or internet communication along the way.
2. Tidy guests putting things away in novel places so I can't find them.
3. Guests who ask permission before they do or use anything. If I say they can use anything in the kitchen, I mean it.
I love the last two. I had 2 riders who stripped the beds and placed the sheets in the washer. As I was saying good bye I noticed the washer running and asked if they forgot something. If they had not "fessed Up" I would have thought I had Alzheimers.
I have too many guests each year now to feed them(21 in 2013), And I no longer have my address posted, I meet them in a shopping center bandstand park across the street. So I go about my normal routine, they can wait if I'm not home or have gone to bed.
My wife and I have hosted 7 cyclists over the past 5 months. We got good reviews and now we get about a request a week.
Guests must understand that the main reason we do this is because we enjoy sharing experiences with people with a sense of adventure and who have been to places we have not. So please, spend time sharing your experience. Leave a trace..
We believe that we are naturally generous people so we tend to be pretty cool on sharing our meals or taking visitors along with us to a party or an outing.
Unfortunately lately we have started to feel that we are being used by some of our visitors. After 2-3 days we often realize they have not spent a single cent during their stay or made any sort of contribution to make up for the small efforts we make. They eat your food, use your internet, use your tools, leave the room not clean...
In the end we have decided to stop hosting for now which is a shame because we did get a few really nice guests. Sorry guys but some people have spoilt it for you !
It might be helpful to limit your guests stays to 1 night; helping people along who need it and keeping yourself from feeling abused by those who are "overly opportunistic" and wishing to live off of others. Don't give up!
I am going to give up, feeling like many others on this thread, used by yet another freeloader whose idea of being a guest is sucking up as much he could and offering zero, nada, but his holly presence.
This guy was just past the door yesterday with his bike and trailer when he jumped into the kitchen and washes his hands over my dishes piled up in the sink. I was a bit surprised and told him, pointing toward the bathroom, that I'd prefer him to use the washroom for that since I am eating in those dishes. Ok... I thought, just a mistake, no big deal, let's try to make him at ease.
But it just went on and on. Total lack of "savoir vivre" from start to end. I told him to not go around with his shoes on (I have carpeted floor, unfortunately). But, no, here he is in the living room putting his shoes on. Seemed like he couldn't care less...
He arrived empty handed in the afternoon, then went out to get some money. When back, he told me he bought himself some pizza. Good. There is 2 grocery stores, one liquor store, etc. right at the corner where I live.
A bit latter, I prepared a meal. He did not contribute anything, or rather (better), he generously offered some pasta, the only thing he said he had in his bag. I declined. As he finished his plate when I hardly started on mine, I told him to help himself for more, which he did without hesitation. He then proceeded to help himself on the cheese, repeatedly, as it was all for him to devour. Same on the dark chocolate I offered for desert with a glass of rum. However, I did try to maintain a friendly atmosphere. We did had some conversation latter that evening but nothing stellar.
Next morning, he was still in bed (in my office) at a quarter to eight although I told him the night before I have breakfast at 7am as I need to get to work. Regardless, I prepared breakfast, coffee and home made chocolate croissants. When ready, I knocked on the office door, got inside to open the window as he was still in his sleeping bag. That's when I saw his dirty socks on my desk, over my work papers... I couldn't believe it... I asked him if it was his. He vaguely apologized and took them away. I made no comment, just turned away in disbelief.
He finally came out for breakfast, swallowed everything without one word to even vaguely express some form of thank.
An hour latter, I had found an excuse to kick this pathetic moron out. I believe he eventually sensed that I was pissed, although I am not even sure. A guy in his thirties behaving like an 8 y.o.... I think he just has no clue. So what to expect?
It's the second time in a row that I experience such a self centered freeloader through ws. The first two guests were very nice.
Sorry for the long rant, I just had to vent it out. Not sure I am going to risk the disagreement one more time. Not sure how to filter these lemons out, as they really spoil it for the rest of you good guests.
I was quite sorry to read about several hosts' experiences with cycling guests. I must admit that I readily accept the food and beverages that hosts offer, and assume that all offers of hospitality are genuine. Since I like to consume alcohol, I've taken to picking up a 6-pack at a convenience store and contributing it to the refrigerator. I will, however, accept wine and/or hard liquor if offered.
As to bad experiences with cycling guests I really hope that the reaction is to give a scathing review on their profile. It won't take too many of those until a cyclist finds that hosts aren't "available" when they're coming through.
My wife and I would love to host, but over three years we've yet to have a single request--partly because there are a lot of hosts in our area (Raleigh, NC).
So don't give up on us touring folks on a budget, or for whom the ground isn't as forgiving as it was 40 years earlier--give bad reviews.
Sounds like you had a pretty bad time. Originally i was on couchsurfing and stopped my account after a couple of negative experiences but none so bad as yours. However, after a long break, i have more recently had another go and also started using warm showers.
I generally try to protect myself more. I tell people what is espected of them with regard to looking after themselves but of course its not so easy to spell out bathroom etiquette and the like. And so often enough i have minor disappointments but i can cope with the odd little mistake a guest might make eg leaving their used towel in the room rather than bringing it down to the laundry or when they leave their toothbrush and shower stuff in the bathroom.
But generally I do my best to ensure that the most important things are clearly spelt out at the earliest opportunity. And most of the time, people only stay one night which reduces the opportunity for creating problems. But perhaps it is time that each new member was given a list of etiquette rules when they join. And hopefully with that and the feedback you give them, should pretty soon learn what they have to do to improve their style.
I'm sorry you're experience has been so negative, but I hope people don't give up hosting based on these negative reports.
I have actually been really surprised by how "good" my guests have been. As the only host on the TransCanada Highway in several hundred km, I get a lot of requests. Last summer, I hosted 24 bicyclists, in groups of ones, twos, and threes. Every one of them contacted me several days in advance, then contacted me again early on the day they arrived to let me know their ETA. Often, they were quite a bit later than they expected. That can be a challenge, but it's the nature of the beast. Flat tires, wind, etc. are realities for the cyclist, and by extension, for the host. Some of my friends tell me they couldn't be that flexible--but if you're not, this isn't the kind of hosting for you! Sometimes, a cyclist would arrive with another cyclist they'd met along the way--but they never showed up without calling first to ask if it was okay.
As has been said by someone else, my biggest peeve has been people who say they will come and then don't show up. That has happened to me with other hosting organization but never with Warm Showers.
The other thing that has pleasantly surprised me is how many cyclists are involved in community and charitable activities. I belong to another organization that specifically aims to promote world peace by fostering intercultural connections and interactions. Guests are expected to stay two days to allow greater friendships to develop. Yet, I have found that Warm Showers guests exhibit at least as much global awareness and interest in cross-cultural learning, and I have enjoyed the visits of Warm Showers guests much more.
So don't give up on Warm Showers! Make your expectations known, and believe that the majority of the cyclists out there will be good guests.
Gee I hope you put a comment about this guest- We have had one or two selfish ones- As a rule I don't tend to accept single males (there have been 2 great ones though!)I have 3 children who take enough looking after let alone another hanger-on! A general caveat is that if guests don't feed back about their hosts, its a warning sign...They don't seem to value them very much!
"A general caveat is that if guests don't feed back about their hosts, its a warning sign...They don't seem to value them very much!"
I get the impression, having talked with my own hosts and guests and a lot of other cyclists met on the road, that only a minority of guests ever leaves feedback for their host. If both host and guest already have 1–2 comments on their profile, that is enough to show they are a bona fide member of the community, so why does there necessarily have to be more?
But I strongly disagree with your claim that this is a warning sign. Almost none of my own guests has ever left feedback for me or other hosts on their current tour, but they were respectful during their stay and most of them sent me a follow-up message down the road "Thanks for hosting me/us!" One shouldn’t accuse a member of supposedly not valuing their host when the valuing was simply invisible to you as a third party.
These guys had absolutely no comments on their hosts- the guy who was the contact left stuff behind including a bike lock and we didn't know if they wanted it or not- The person who contacted us went to bed and spent at least an hour on his computer, leaving me on my own to clean up after everyone- This is Warm showers, you want home comforts and everything done for you, don't leave your parents place or pay for Airbnb!
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