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How To Be A Good Guest

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Never been a guest, but had

As a host that has many guests, when somebody requests they want to stay we always send a reply and ask if they have any food preferences, (nice way to find out if they are vegetarians/vegans) because I know they are going to be hungry, tired, and would like a "home-cooked" meal.

We have a good talk, give them a tour and offer them the run of the house. If they want to spend time by themselves more power to them.

What upsets me is when we get a request and then if something comes up they don't bother to contact us. I truly understand that sometimes things change, but with free WiFi available almost everywhere how hard would it be to just send an email?

As most hosts know we sometimes change our plans and purchase extra food for our quests.

We have met some great people throughout the time we have hosted people, so a few bad people wont ruin it for us.

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How to Be a Good Guest

Thanks for the note.
I've never encountered a bad host or a bad guest. Hopefully that'll continue until I'm done with all this. At 74, I've only a few years of touring left.
Steve

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Excellent article! I never

Excellent article! I never thought about sending thank you post cards. This is BRILLIANT! Thank you for such a great idea.

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New members seeking to learn from your experiences

I bought tickets. Going to Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Paris April 20 - May 4. I like clarifying my host preferences and respecting them. I am kind, courteous and respectful generous with my time, interested in knowing and doing mutually interesting things with others. I am flexible, curious and interested in active listening to people about their lives, community, experiences etc. and sharing mine. I feel happy when I can share the cost, help cook meals and do chores around the house i.e washing dishes and pots, cleaning and home repairs.

Ideally I like to get on the road by 8am and start getting ready for bed by 10pm. I like to get to know other people by biking together, sharing meals, sightseeing, sharing stories about our lives and expressing my gratitude with words and deeds.

For 10+ years I have been a biking activist in Boston as a teacher in the Boston Public Schools educating children to build a bike, bicycle safety, the environmental impact and taking local bike rides in their city. I am an advocate, actively involved in non-profit organizations and the City of Boston staff who's work to transform Boston a safer and welcoming community for cyclist.

I hope I can stay with host one night or two max.

Tony

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"Your hosts preferences are your rules"

This subtitle of Jennifer H. Milyko's contribution here above sounds good.

Although I can appreciate if hosts want to fullfill all possible and impossible wishes of a guest, I finally was fed up with all the varied desires and demands of guests.
Therefore I decided to mention my expectations and limitations in my account.
Since that time I only get requests of cyclists that fit in. Everybody now knows what I like and don't like. They know what to expect. No disappointments anymore at both sides.
Maybe less inviting to stay over and eat for free, but very clear.

Here they are:
--request at least 2 days before arrival.
--if I accept your request, send a confirmation within 12 hours. (My planning is tight.)
--if you don't, your request is cancelled. No exceptions.
--you are welcome between 5.00 - 6.00 P.M.
--have a shower, than "happy-hour" with Dutch Jenever and/or Dutch beer and weird local snacks while you tell your great cycle adventures.
--my dinner: meat or fish, combined with vegetables of the season, prepared in style of our ancestors according local Dutch food/drinking traditions
--That means: vegetarians will starve and picky eaters too! Our ancestors were poor, ate ANYTHING that was available.
--if you arrive later,CALL ME!
--Smoking is ok, outside.
--No drugs.
--You will sleep in a bedroom at a mattress with your sleeping bag.
--next morning, we leave after the typical Dutch breakfast between 8.00 and 9.00. I have my daily work.
The price of your visit: telling your adventures and enjoy our get together.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Good Post Peter...

I liked Peter's Post, as above, I notice he is a long term member, as we are here. It;s interesting he chooses a " dot point" Profile ( as I do ), which is so much easier to comprehend than the usual " Lonely Hearts" style Profiles so many Members provide.

(They may NOT be truly "Lonely Hearts" but they use the same style as a dating forum, rambling on about themselves.... )

I have to say, not all long term members are so thoughtful in their presentations, but it's always good to see Common Sense as opposed to " walk all over me" Sentimentality.

WS Member WS Member's picture
If a visitor misbehaves to the point of calling the police....

Make a formal statement and be sure to ask how to obtain a copy of the police report.
I have been unable to post negative feedback about a guest on this site until I go through a convoluted process of obtaining
A report from the freedom of information office. Meanwhile a person who behaved in an appalling manner is being hosted nearby by
An unsuspecting host.

Fully agree with all comments made in the article. You would think it is all common sense but after my experience the past few days, it clearly isn't. It would be helpful if more people were able and willing to leave feedback when the experience is not positive.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Phew

There seems to be a wee bit of curmudgeonliness sneaking in to some of these posts. I, for one, don't expect, or even particularly want, a gift from my guests. I never sensed this expectation from my hosts either. We give freely and are given to freely (hopefully).

I don't expect them to entertain me either. The reason I host is because I've been in the situation of the guest, and I know how much I enjoyed getting free accomodation at the end of a hard day.

I see some suggestions of an etiquette protocol. Given the infinitesimal proportion of "problem guests" this seems to be a solution without a problem. The suggestion featured a "no discussion of religion or politics". I'm fairly sure that adults can talk about these topics without being insensitive. The intrusion of "rules" into human interaction is infantilising and risks formalising a relationship which should be informal and relaxed.

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Thaank you Jennifer

Thank you Jennifer for this post. Reminders of the simple things goes a long, LONG way!

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Guests

I have had good experiences with guests - apart from the fact that they all seem to arrive in August for some reason! The only bad experience was guests who told me they would arrive at 7 pm which is fine, except that they were over-ambitious in planning their journey and actually arrived after 10 pm. Not only that, but having told me they were happy to camp on my lawn they said on arrival that as it was dark, could I make up a bed for them in the house, which I did. However the experience left a bad taste in the mouth. If they had told me what their plans had been for that day, I would have told them they were being over-ambitious.

So I have now changed my profile to ask guests for a realistic assessment of their arrival time, and to tell me where they will be arriving from. ec

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Politics

I would also like to comment on the suggestion that guests should not talk about politics. I think this is nonsense. Here in Scotland we find that visitors always want to ask us about the Independence Referendum in 2014 - and we are more than happy to talk about this. The same applies to Brexit. I am very happy to tell people how I voted, and share my views on the crazy adventure the UK is now embarking upon. Guests expect this level of discussion.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Communicate with host!

If you are within two to three weeks of your intended arrival date, communicate often with your potential host. Do not leave them hanging. If they have indicated they will be cooking, definitely remember they are spending money and time out of their pocket and life to host you. Do not disrespect them by opting out one or two days before your date of arrival. If I cancelled on you the day before, you would be angry.
Treat your host better than you would like to be treated.

WS Member Koga's picture
My way of travel by bike

My way of travel by bike means freedom to choose. I would rather be cooking myself than having to think about a host cooking or whatever..
Changing weather, lacking power or simply interesting people or landscape would be more important than meeting a hosts expectations. Afterall I'm only travelling this route once and would rather sleep in my tent somewhere than feeling obliged to pass on..
Each to their own..

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as a host my response to Lars

Yes you are free to choose to travel, and yes, weather, unforeseen things come up. But to blow off a host who has accepted your request and not inform them in a timely manner is rude and selfish. As others pointed out hosts often buy food, spend time preparing and most importantly might have turned down other things they could have done to host you. You might be going on the route once, but leaving a string of hosts disappointed host in your wake could haunt your WS profile for years. And when you do want to put your head down at a welcoming home you may find the door does not open for you. Please keep any host you have contacted informed of your status of arrival in a timely manner. It is the decent thing to do.

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Thanks

Thank you Kevin.

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"As others pointed out hosts

"As others pointed out hosts often buy food, spend time preparing and most importantly might have turned down other things they could have done to host you."

And they are making a mistake. I have been active in internet-based hospitality exchange since the early millennium. Time and time again, I have seen it given as standard advice that, if you want to stay motivated about hosting and not burn out due to disappointment, you should never make any special preparations for your guest until he/she is actually at your home. Plus, if there are possibly other events you want to go to, then go to them and tell the guest that he/she has to work around your schedule.

Guests who fail to contact their host and alert them to a cancellation are certainly out of order, but these particular hosts should primarily be blaming themselves for setting themselves up for disappointment.

WS Member Koga's picture
No big deal. If you have

No big deal. If you have these needs to your guest please explain it in your profile. I would simply travel on my own.. To your Information I have no negative feelings about this travelstyle.
Maybe different cultures..
Why do you insist cooking and preparing the entire household for a traveller not ready for this sort of engagement?
My visitors are free to arrive or stay away depending on their needs and situation.
Not everyone travels with a mobile phone able to reach the host..
Please spare your demands on others free choices including assuming I'm an annoying traveller.
Actually I'm not alone with this relaxed attitude ;-)
As mentioned I wouldn't ask for hosting by people demanding this tight schedule

WS Member WS Member's picture
your right

Hello Lars,
It is fully within your rights to never ask me to host you, just as it is in others rights to do the same.
I'm a host only, l'm also mobility disabled and my time is precious to me. It takes me and others who are in wheelchairs more time and energy to host riders.
I have been hosting for a number of years. My profile is full of information of what I ask of my guests, I have had more (95%) good guests than I have bad ones. The bad ones have all been in the last two years.
No one has to stay in/at my home. Everyone has their own free will and preferences.
I wish you the best with your cycling.

WS Member Koga's picture
Thank you Judith Schwalb..

Thank you Judith Schwalb..
Hope you & Kevin will be ongoing satisfied part of the Warmshower community

WS Member WS Member's picture
Change of plans

Failure to notify a host when guests change plans inconveniences the host. Guests should make every effort to notify the host if they accept another host, or if their arrival date or time changes. I have had guests who selected another lodging but failed to let me know. Guests need to understand that our homes are not hotels; we need to arrange our lives to accommodate your stay. We may have declined our own activities during your planned stay.

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Well said

Thank you

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Couple of suggestions for WS hosts

This year we've hosted a lot more guests than usual and I have come up with a couple of things to make my life easier.

1. I always check the guest's profile before accepting. I don't accept guests if not convenient or I don't like their feedback.
2. I include anything important to me (which may vary) in the email which I return with my acceptance (i.e. please let me know your approximate ETA on the day of arrival).
3. I do not offer dinner - usually I do serve it, but not always. We have a small map for guests showing nearby stores & cafes.
4. I give my guests a clean set of sheets to make the bed after they get up the next morning so I won't have to do it.

Most of our guests have been very considerate and thankful and have also shared interesting stories. That is why we host.

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Something for my hosts

I wanted something small that I could bring with me for my hosts. I bring postcards from my home town and write my contact info and a personal thank you before I leave. I also made a bunch of 'penny medallions' ( the kind you can make for 50 cents US in machines at museums and tourist places). I punched a hole in them and got some links to make them into key chains. They take almost no space in your pannier, and hosts seem to enjoy them, especially their kids.

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