Frequently Asked Questions
The Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink. All members agree to host others either now or in the future, but for some members hosting may be in years or even decades in their future.
In 1993, Terry Zmrhal and Geoff Cashman were the originators of this service. In 1996, Roger Gravel began updating and managing the Warm Showers List after he found that it hadn't been maintained. Randy Fay turned the list into a database-and-map enabled website in 2005 and eventually assumed the webmaster/registar role from Roger when Roger retired in 2009. Now a small but dedicated group of volunteers manage the site and communication with our members.
The growth of the membership and its worldwide distribution are shown on the Statistics page.
In recent years the Warmshowers.org Foundation was formed to improve governance and sustainability of the organization. It is now a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. It has a Board of Directors and all decisions and financial reports and similar information are posted in the Leadership Council section of the forums.
The short answer is: You are responsible for your own personal security during all interactions with members, when you accept guests into your own home, or when you visit another member's home as a guest. Warmshowers.org does not control or participate in any of these interactions, so you alone must decide what is reasonable in your circumstances.
- Warmshowers.org provides a way for members to meet and share hospitality, and provides information about members that they themselves provide or other members provide about them. But we do not have any way to vouch for the good intentions or the identity of any member.
- You alone are responsible for your security and safety. Use your good sense.
- You choose how much information to post on your profile. You may include or omit your phone number; you may include or omit most parts of your address and location.
- You are under no obligation at any time to invite anyone to your home. Even if they show up at your door after you've invited them, and you change your mind, you can find other alternatives, like having them camp on a lawn, or escorting them to a hostel.
- If you're uncomfortable with having strangers visit you, or with staying with strangers, a hospitality network like this might not be for you. That's OK.
We believe that you have the right to control all of the information and content that you share, post and submit on the site.
- We do not disclose your information in any way to any third party, for advertising or any other purpose.
- Only members are able to view information about you that you post on your profile, including address or telephone details that you choose to include.
- Only members are able to contact you through the "Send Message" button and the site's private messaging facility
- Postings that you make in the Warmshowers.org forums are visible to anyone on the internet.
- Any posting on the site may be deleted by you at any time, or you can request that we delete it.
This video screencast summarizes the process.
After logging in, visit the main page and either move the map (it's a regular Google map) or use the search capabilities on the left side.
- Search by name or email: Enter a part of the member's name you're looking for. If the member's name is "Joe Rufus", you're better to just search for "Rufus", because he might be listed as "Joseph Rufus" or "Joseph A. Rufus" and then you'll miss him. (You can also search by email if you already have the member's email.) (image)
- Search by location:
- Choose a country. (image)
- Optionally choose a town or state/province within that country. Start typing the first part of the name of the town or province and wait for the site to autocomplete. Then select from the list of towns. They'll be listed in order of population. (image)
- Click the "map" button to go to the selected place or... (image)
- Click the "list" button to get a list of members in order of distance from the center of the location you specfied.
On the map, red markers indicate individual hosts. If the red marker has a number in it, then more than one member is at that exact spot. "Cluster"markers indicate that there are too many members in the area shown to display - if you click on a cluster marker you'll automatically zoom into the area that has all those individual members, or you can zoom in using any of the map's zoom tools. , so you need to zoom in on that area (using the map's zoom function) to see the individual hosts. (image)
After finding a prospective host, visit their profile page and contact them using the "Send Message" button on the right side of their profile page (image). Please make sure to read the entire page first, to make sure that the host fits your needs and you fit the host's preferences. Also, please do not contact hosts listed as "not currently available" for hospitality.
Well, we don't have very many rules, but there are a few.
- The member information on this site is to be used only for members to contact each other about hospitality , and not for any other purpose. People have graciously given their information for the purpose of arranging hospitality. (No B&B's or commercial hostels, no commercial uses at all. Thanks.)
- The WSL is for hospitality for private individuals (or couples or very small groups) touring on bicycles. Please don't use it for other types of hospitality - for your large group of teenagers doing a cross-country ride, or for your large-group fund-raising event (even though it's for AIDS or cancer or some other fine cause). Please don't use it for non-bicycle travel.
- Please keep your information up-to-date, and please be responsive . Every cyclist deserves to expect at least a response from each host contacted. If your information is out of date or you are not responsive, it can be very frustrating for a cyclist.
- Please log into the site at least once every year and check your information We request that you log into the site at least once every year to check your information and update it. Accounts that get out of date will be deleted (we'll send you a warning email first).
- When seeking hospitality you should contact prospective hosts in advance. And if your plans change please let your host know as soon as possible. Do not make arrangements with a host and then fail to keep your agreement, unless you contact them, of course.
- Hosts are not allowed to require any payment for the hospitality that they offer other warmshowers members. Guests may help out of course; you can fix a meal, bring some beer, etc.
- Businesses (hotels, B&B's, etc.) may not use the site for promotional purposes or charge members for the hospitality that they offer.
- Say "no" to any hosting request if you're uncomfortable or for any other reasons. For example, if you request notice, and someone calls you on the spur of the moment, just say "sorry, I have to have some notice, as it says on my account".
- Minors are not allowed to use the site. Sorry, for legal and liability reasons, you must be 18 years or age or older to use the site.
- Please respond to contacts from members in a timely manner, whether you choose to host them or not. If you can't do this, please make sure your profile is marked "not currently available".
- When contacted by a member for hospitality, read their profile and recommendations and decide whether you want to offer hospitality (you are under no obligation to offer hospitality!) Note that the link to the contacting member's profile will be in the email you receive from the site.
- If you decide to offer hospitality, continue the contact with the member to make specific arrangements, and give them additional contact and location details if necessary.
- Always provide feedback after any visit from a guest. This builds trust in the community. Normally it will be positive, but if it's neutral or negative, please provide it anyway.
- Please read the article How to be a good host for more detail.
- Before contacting a prospective host read their warmshowers account carefully. Be aware of the hospitality that they offer as well as any restrictions that they may have. Read their recommendations to see what others have said about them.
- Show up at the agreed-upon location as you have discussed with the host. If you can't, please contact them as soon as you can. (No-shows have been a consistent complaint from hosts, and do damage to our hosting community.)
- Ask the host what your responsibilities are as a guest. Are you expected to fix a meal? How long are you allowed/expected to stay?
- Guests should generally figure out some way to be responsive to the host's kind hospitality... bringing a beer, fixing a meal, telling good stories.
- Always provide feedback (and thanks) to hosts by clicking the "Provide Feedback" button on their profile page. Note that although it's unusual, feedback may be neutral or negative. Your honest feedback helps build trust in the community.
- If a host was responsive to your contact, please visit their profile page and click the "Mark responsive" button. If they do not respond, please click the "Mark unresponsive" button. This information will help other members determine what hosts are best to contact.
- Please read the article How to be a good guest for more information.
If you're contacting hosts but it seems you're never getting an invitation to stay with them, take a look at your profile and think about improving your initial contact message. Do you have a clear profile picture? Does your profile describe you well and provide details about your bike trip? Do you have feedback? If you don't yet have feedback, it's critical to leave feedback when you do get an opportunity to stay with a host, and hopefully you'll build up your feedback quotient that way. In your initial contact, make sure to give details like how many people are traveling, their names, a bit about your trip or goal, and exactly when you plan to arrive (if possible). Let them know alternate means of contacting you (like your phone number).
Make sure you read the host's profile before contacting them, so you know that your contact is appropriate.
If you're contacting by phone, make sure to identify yourself clearly and give your username on Warmshowers so they can read your profile. It's a nice touch to ask them if they want to call you back after reading your profile and feedback.
If you're not getting replies from hosts, check the above, but it's probably not worth contacting hosts with a poor responsiveness rate, so make sure to look at that on their profile.
Use the “About This Member” section to tell your personal story. If you're hosting, what's special about your accommodations? Do you live atop a hill? Right off the trail? Near a bike shop? Are you an excellent chef, might you order pizza, or should guests bring their own food? If you're touring, where did you start and where are you going? Do you have a blog? Any dietary restrictions? Information like this can help prospective hosts or guests decide if you would be a good fit or not.
For most people a profile picture is very important. It does not have to be a picture of you, but can be a picture of your house, town, or bike.
Fill in the explicit questions as well as you can and as completely as you are comfortable with. You do not have to disclose your street address or phone numbers, but if you are hosting, the map should indicate where guests would stay within a reasonable distance.
Check these things: Do you have a profile picture? Does your profile say something about you so prospective guests know if you might be a good "fit"? Does your responsiveness show that you generally reply to requests?
All that said though, there are lots of areas with huge numbers of hosts and very few bike travelers. A number of larger cities fit into this category. It's just a mismatch that will never be solved.
The entire Warmshowers community depends on your feedback about other members. We operate on trust, and it's easier to trust someone if you can see what others have said about them.
To provide feedback about a member, visit their profile page (use the "search by name or email" or other capabilities to find them.) Then click the "Provide Feedback" button on the right side of their profile page. (image)
Although most feedback is really just thank-you letters, there are times when feedback is (and should be) neutral or negative. If a guest might be a problem for other hosts or other members might not think a host was appropriate, please go ahead and say this. Feedback of this type is important to the community.
Neutral or negative feedback should be factual, concise, and deal with your actual experience, not your feelings or judgments about the other party.
We do not allow retaliatory or tit-for-tat feedback. Please use the contact form to let us know if you experience this kind of feedback and we'll remove or moderate it.
The site sends out an email notification to you for every message you receive.
If you see messages on the "Messages" tab of your account for which you did not receive email notification, it probably means that your email provider or email client is hiding them from you by placing them in a spam folder or the equivalent.
The Spam Filters page has some general approaches to solving problems like this; you'll find more on the internet or at your own email provider.
Changing your account
If you have lost or forgotten your password, go to the request a new password page (image), which will send a link to you by email. You can click on the link (image) and you'll land on the page to change your password.
Just log into your account and go to my account and click on the "Edit" tab. On the Edit tab, Look down the page to the "Warm Showers Host Profile". There you'll find a checkbox for "Not Currently Available" (image). Click that box and nobody will find you via the map searches, and your profile page will say clearly that you're not available.
Please remember that this list is reciprocal hospitality, so you're expected to offer hospitality in the future (perhaps the distant future) even if you can't right now. (It's OK to go years, maybe many years, set to "not currently available". But someday...)
Make sure you have clicked "Save". Or maybe there was an error - look for the popup message telling you that. If you accidentally don't complete the state/province or country, zipcode, your full name, "about me", etc., your submission won't be accepted. Please read the error message and fill in the required fields. If you're still having trouble, send us a note using the contact form.
Most likely the email went into your spam or bulk mail folder. Please look there first and search all your mail for mail from email@example.com. If you don't find it, please send a note to us using the contact form or just an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this situation, you log into the site, but you get the error message "Access denied" (image). This is not the same as a message saying "Invalid username or password" (in that case, try again, or get a one-time login link sent to you so you can change your password.)
If you log in and get the "Access denied" message, it's almost certainly because your browser is not allowing cookies. Nearly all websites require cookies to work in order for visitors to log in. Google has an article explaining how to enable cookies on most web browsers here.
If you can't resolve this, you may want to use a different web browser, and install Chrome or Firefox. If you can't install Firefox because you don't have permissions on the computer, try Firefox Portable Edition, which doesn't require any installation.
Any program that blocks cookies on your computer or your network can cause this problem. For example, CA Security Center may block cookies in all programs. Try temporarily disabling your firewall and virus protection to see if they're the problem.
If you get "Unrecognized username or password" when you try to log in, you can get a one-time login link mailed to you by visiting the request new password page (image). Here you can enter your email address. It will send you an email with a link that you can click on to log in - and then change your password (image).
This one-time login link may land in your spam folder, so look there. And please add email@example.com to your "Approved senders" list or your address book to prevent that from happening.
Pictures are generally cached by your own browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox or whatever). Go to your profile page and hold down the Shift key and press the "refresh" icon on top of the browser (image) and it will refresh the entire page and you should see the new picture. Here is a screencast showing how to upload a picture and demonstrating the refresh problem.
If you can log in, you're a member. But you may be set to "not currently available", in which case your name won't show in most searches.
If you find that you can't log in, try getting a password reset email sent to your address. Just visit the password reset page and enter your email.
We do delete members annually if they haven't logged in for more than a year, and we delete members when they are consistently unreachable. In both of these cases we attempt to contact you first.
If you account has been deleted, you are welcome to create a new one at any time.
Since Internet Explorer 9 was released, sites and users all over the web have reported that users with IE9 can't upload pictures. In our case, you might add a profile picture on your profile and press "Save"... and then it just waits and waits and never completes. We have not found a solution to this problem. You might want to use the free Chrome or Firefox browsers.
Many people don't use the site to read their private messages - they just read them in the email notifications they receive. (An email notification is sent for every single message on the site, and you can just reply to them of course.) But that leads to a problem: The site has no way to know that you have read the most recent message in a thread, because it can't know you read your email. There's an easy fix to this though:
Assuming you know all messages are read, go to your messages inbox on the site and:
We calculate responsiveness based on incoming messages that don't get answered. If you answer every conversation initiated by another member, you'll have 100% responsiveness. We know that there are situations where a message doesn't actually need a response, and there are situations where the message gets answered another way (by phone or text for example). But we don't have a way to know that. So if you just reply, even after the fact, you'll have 100% responsiveness. To find requests you didn't respond to, look at the "Unanswered requests" tab on your messages:
First, please make sure that all your address information is correct. If you have provided at least a partial address, particularly with the postal code, that will usually give an approximate (and sometimes very accurate) location.
If that doesn't do it, please set your own location on the map. Click the "Update location" button on the main page (image), or the "Set location" button on your profile page (image). Zoom in or out, move around, and click where you actually live, and then press the "submit" button.
Yes, we have mobile apps for iPhone/iPad, Android, and Windows Phone. They were developed and are maintained by individual members who took on this task. You'll find them in their appropriate App Stores. See this article for full information.
The Warmshowers.org community has grown to more than 50,000 members in 15 languages all over the world. Our infrastructure requires improvement and upkeep (both quite expensive) and our members need support and problem-solving. We believe that the long-term viability of the community requires us to become financially sustainable, and that our membership can make that happen.
We are a nonprofit organization in the US, and all of our financial statements and other organization documents are available on the site. Our immediate challenges are key improvements and fixes for the site and major improvements for the mobile apps, along with improved organization of our volunteers and community.
We’re asking every Warmshowers.org member to choose a donation level each year, giving from $0 to $100 or more. All you have to do is visit the donate page and spend about 30 seconds choosing and checking out. Don't want to donate? Choose the Free Membership or Hosting Only Membership. Thanks!
Please choose the Free Donation Level or the Hosting-only Donation Level, which cost nothing, and check out with it. It will take just 30 seconds, and it tells us you listened, but don’t want to give financially right now. Thanks!
Please sign up for the $0 "Hosting-Only Membership". Your hosting is enormously appreciated. We do believe that the future of this community is dependent on the whole community contributing financially, so are just asking that everyone sign up for a donor level, and the Hosting-Only level is fine..
The Warmshowers.org Foundation is a recognized nonprofit corporation in the US (a 501(c)(3)) so donations by US taxpayers are tax-deductible.
Yes, it is fine to be a member even though you don't know when in the future you might be able to host others. The idea is that you're just committing to host "someday". Many of us don't know when we'll be able to host, but most of us will be able to at some point in our lives.
Please remember to keep the "not currently available" checkbox (image) checked when you're not available to host.
Please let us know about all problems you have with the site. We're working hard to improve it. Of course, we're just volunteers, so it can take some time to get things fixed. Please send a note via the contact form with errors you encounter, problems you have, etc. Please do be patient with us. This is a big project and it continues to mature over time.
Note that our open bugs are on github, and you're welcome to look through them to see if yours has been reported. If you have a free github account, you can comment on those issues or help out explaining them, or just create one there.
If you have the time and are a native speaker of your language, with a good grasp of English, please contact us and we'll tell you what it entails. It's a fair chunk of work, and has to be maintained in the future, so you're signing up for a bit of a commitment. Volunteers have already translated the site into Spanish, French, Portuguese and German. We only accept translation projects where the translator is willing to make a long-term commitment to keep the translation up-to-date.
Warmshowers.org is registered as a Colorado Nonprofit Corporation in the state of Colorado, USA.
According to the US IRS rules, contributions to Warmshowers.org are tax-deductible to US taxpayers.
- Please try to sort out whether the problem is one of miscommunication or cultural difference. If that's what it is, please move on.
- If you think that other hosts or guests should be aware of the member's situation, please leave feedback in the form of negative feedback. Simply click the "Provide Feedback" button on their profile page and explain the facts of your concern and your experience. You'll choose "Negative" or "Neutral" as the rating, of course.
- If the situation involves serious misbehavior (theft, sexual misbehavior, etc.), please let us know the facts of the situation by using the contact form. We will ask you for specific factual details of your experience and ask the other party for their view. In serious cases we can post an administrative feedback (anonymous for you) on the member's account, or delete the accused member's account, if that is warranted.
- If the situation involves criminal behavior, please immediately inform your local legal authorities. Call the police.
Sure - But you just have to do it with two different accounts. Any two email accounts that are regularly attended will be fine. You will have to set them to available or not available as you see fit.
If you use gmail, it's easy to do this with a single email account (but two Warmshowers accounts) using "plus addressing". If your email is firstname.lastname@example.org, you can have one Warmshowers account with email@example.com and another with firstname.lastname@example.org. All email to both will go to email@example.com.