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Breaking Bread

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Breaking Bread

On my first bicycle tour back in 2011, I once arrived at a host's home without food provisions and there was no town nearby. I had neglected to note on his WS page that he did not offer food. I cold showered behind his garage and starved that night in my tent in his back yard, never met the other members of his family, and pedaled 20 miles the next day before finally arriving at civilization to ease my starvation. From then on, unless it was mentioned by the host, I stopped and ate beforehand. Unfortunately, most times they have cooked something and I had to eat a second meal to be polite. But in my defense, their correspondence was so brief that I didn't know what they were offering and it felt rude to ask. Everyone grows up differently and good manners are not necessarily universal. I happen to believe that one does not get to know a host unless we break bread together. Hosts are the most interesting part of a ride. So I then decided that when they say that they haven't made any meal plans for us, I have been offering to take them out. It didn't always work out well. Last year I offered to take out a woman for pizza. She drove us instead to a steak house and ordered prime rib. Another time my host drove us to a Mexican restaurant and he ordered two monster Margaritas along with his Pollo Loco at $10 a pop. So, I am going to back off from that policy this summer. From now on if no food is offered, I will come prepared and leave it at that, and hope for a warmer reception next time.

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Breaking bread

Some people are just unthinking, but most are not as inconsiderate as the ones you referenced. I am thankful for the good ones. Hopefully there are more good ones out there. Life can be a gamble.

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Emergency Rations

A loaf of bread, peanut butter, brick of ramen, and a can of tuna are my emergency provisions. It is always good to have extra food rations as a back up.

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I think many people who have

I think many people who have traveled for many months or years and have stayed with local families understand your pain. But I wouldn't demand that hosts feed their guests. I think it's better to always have some emergency rations in your panniers that don't require cooking.

I learned this the hard way during a recent tour in Albania. One night in the countryside I wanted to put up the tent (and cook dinner on my stove), but the landowner was in sight, so I asked him for permission. He offered me a place to sleep in the house for 10€. He also insisted that I eat with his family. Yes, I am grateful for their hospitality and it was good to spend a few hours in conversation with them, but their meagre dinner of a Shopska salad and a small chunk of bread was not the carbs I needed for the challenging mountain cycling of the next day. At the same time, it would have been a faux pas if I had fired up my own stove after that and made my customary pasta. I was really hurting as I cycled up steep inclines without adequate nutrition, and I resolved to always carry something that I could discreetly eat behind the closed door of my room at night.

> Last year I offered to take out a woman for pizza. She drove us instead to a steak house and ordered prime rib.

There are a lot of Couchsurfing hosts who exploit their guests for free meals and drinks in posh establishments, guilting them into covering the entire tab at the bar or restaurant by suggesting they would be ungrateful guests if they didn't pay for their host, too. I'm happy that that isn't a common phenomenon on WS yet.

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