A Warm Welcome and a Warm Shower

I stumbled across the Warm Showers group a couple of years ago when I started following a blog about cycling the length of the Mississippi River in the USA. Peter and Tracy are the most inspiring couple, and tackle the most astonishing cycling adventures.

A couple of years ago, they started way up at Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota USA, and 48 days, and 2 968km later, they arrived at Venice, Louisiana, in the deep south of USA. Along the way in their blog, they kept describing the wonderful warm welcome they received from various ‘Warm Showers’ hosts. That really intrigued me and I had to find out more.

What is Warm Showers?

Warm Showers is a worldwide community of keen cyclists, and equally keen hosts. It is possible, in fact it is encouraged, to be both a cyclist guest and a host to other cyclists.

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The Murray River ride in contrast to the Mississippi River ride.

How does it work?

As a HOST, you place all your information on the Warm Showers website including your location, what you offer your guests, how long they can stay and how far in advance they must book with you. Hosts can offer a couch to sleep on, a bed or a place to camp. There is no obligation to provide a meal or any other services, but from personal experience, being able to access things like a washing machine is ‘gold’ when traveling.

As a CYCLIST, when you are planning your trip, you simply log onto the website and search the map for Warm Showers hosts that may be on or near your route. Once a destination has been identified, you send a private message to the host checking availability and/or requesting a bed.

What are the benefits?

Other than some warm, fuzzy feelings around good karma, ‘paying it forward’, and being part of a global cycling community, Warm Showers HOSTs have the opportunity to meet new and interesting cyclists from all around the world, and enjoy a receptive ear for even the tallest of cycling stories.

For CYCLISTS, Warm Showers provides a cost-effective accommodation option. A bed and a warm shower will be free or cost you a bottle of wine or a few beers. It also means you have ready access to the local information/intel. Peter and Tracy frequently found that their hosts showed them an easier or better route out of the city, or tipped them off to the best diner or hamburger joint in town. Often a host cycled out to meet them as they entered the outskirts of the city, and then guided them to their home. Now, that is a warm welcome.

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Stylish? No! Practical? Very!

A few other housekeeping things:

As a HOST you can take as many, or as few, guests as you like. It is possible to block out dates when you are traveling yourself, or when you simply want a rest from being so generous and hospitable.

CYCLISTs are encouraged to be gracious guests and respect their host and their home. In many ways, I feel it is a privilege to be part of this programme, so it is important to approach it in the right spirit.

The nuts and bolts:

  • Currently there are 82 361 active members of Warm Showers around the World, and of those, 37 805 are registered as hosts.
  • A VERY long list is included at the end of this post which shows all the countries around the world who offer to host cyclists.
  • There is no obligation to host, but I figure if you use the service, then you should support the service by being a host too.
  • There is no obligation for a host to offer a bed etc. if they feel uncomfortable or you don’t trust the cyclist’s profile. Hosts can give feedback on a cyclist after a visit, so future hosts can check their reliability and the fact that they are ‘good guests’.
  • Cyclists can also provide reviews of hosts. It is a very transparent system to build trust and increase comfort levels. It is a bit like AirBnB in its ability to give and/or receive reviews.

Other thoughts and comments:

  • We signed up to be a Warm Showers host in late 2016, and to date, we are yet to receive a request for a bed. There are a few other Warm Showers hosts in Mudgee, but I suspect that it is more to do with the fact that Mudgee is slightly off the beaten track and Australia’s wide open spaces can be a bit intimidating for cycle touring. We certainly haven’t been inundated with requests for a free bed!
  • I like the philosophy around Warm Showers. We live in such a fast-paced and changeable world, I think it is nice that we can still connect and care for strangers.
  • Look out USA! When we take on the Mississippi River Trail in a couple of years’ time, we will be sure to knock on the doors of friends we haven’t met yet.

 

The Basics

What: Warm Showers can be found at: http://www.warmshowers.org/

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Starting point for the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) – Lake Itasca, northern Minnesota, USA. Photo: MRT Facebook.

Where: This is a worldwide association with hosts on every continent and almost every island. For more detail on the specific countries and its membership, check out the long list below!

When: You can access Warm Showers accommodation at any time of the year, but some hosts request a couple of weeks’ notice before accepting a request.

Why: Sign up to the group to meet like-minded and interesting fellow cyclists, and to access some welcoming and cheap accommodation.

Who: No age limit.

Related Posts: We haven’t used Warm Showers yet, or had anyone stay with us, but we have already completed a few cycling adventures. Check them out at: https://lifeonebigadventure.com/category/two-wheels-cycling/

Related Blogs: Two other passionate cyclists who have done some epic trips across the USA and are frequent users of Warm Showers are Peter and Tracy from We Bike https://webikeetc.wordpress.com/.

Country Name Members In Country
Albania 13
Algeria 17
Andorra 12
Argentina 1,483
Armenia 8
Australia 2,462
Austria 736
Azerbaijan 25
Bangladesh 30
Belarus 116
Belgium 1,952
Belize 3
Benin 7
Bermuda 2
Bolivia 35
Bosnia and Herzegovina 48
Botswana 6
Brazil 1,672
Bulgaria 106
Burkina Faso 5
Cambodia 44
Cameroon 6
Canada 5,845
Cape Verde 1
Cayman Islands 3
Chile 505
China 537
Colombia 805
Costa Rica 67
Croatia 207
Cuba 14
Cyprus 19
Czech Republic 350
Democratic Republic of the Congo 2
Denmark 468
Djibouti 1
Dominican Republic 4
Ecuador 129
Egypt 33
El Salvador 22
Estonia 61
Ethiopia 9
Fiji 1
Finland 269
France 11,787
French Guiana 15
French Polynesia 9
Gambia 3
Georgia 27
Germany 5,962
Ghana 4
Greece 183
Greenland 3
Guatemala 52
Guernsey 6
Guyana 1
Honduras 14
Hong Kong 135
Hungary 252
Iceland 24
India 368
Indonesia 136
Iran 1,103
Iraq 1
Ireland 429
Isle of Man 9
Israel 143
Italy 1,882
Ivory Coast 3
Jamaica 4
Japan 351
Jersey 10
Jordan 9
Kazakhstan 39
Kenya 25
Kosovo 2
Kuwait 2
Kyrgyzstan 14
Laos 15
Latvia 94
Lebanon 14
Lesotho 3
Libya 2
Liechtenstein 3
Lithuania 126
Luxembourg 44
Macao 4
Macedonia 29
Madagascar 6
Malawi 6
Malaysia 289
Mali 3
Malta 10
Mauritania 1
Mauritius 3
Mexico 831
Moldova 9
Mongolia 11
Montenegro 12
Morocco 82
Mozambique 5
Myanmar 14
Namibia 8
Nepal 43
Netherlands 1,750
Netherlands Antilles 3
New Caledonia 16
New Zealand 1,009
Nicaragua 22
Niger 1
Norway 270
Oman 10
Pakistan 17
Palestinian Territory 5
Panama 19
Paraguay 37
Peru 141
Philippines 51
Poland 1,412
Portugal 349
Puerto Rico 5
Qatar 7
Reunion 19
Romania 286
Russia 659
Rwanda 7
Saudi Arabia 15
Senegal 11
Serbia 196
Serbia and Montenegro 4
Singapore 117
Slovakia 127
Slovenia 184
South Africa 264
South Korea 1,039
Spain 2,654
Sri Lanka 8
Sudan 4
Sweden 670
Switzerland 1,938
Taiwan 220
Tajikistan 6
Tanzania 23
Thailand 234
Timor-Leste 5
Togo 2
Trinidad and Tobago 3
Tunisia 27
Turkey 1,467
Turkmenistan 1
Uganda 26
Ukraine 296
United Arab Emirates 33
United Kingdom 6,287
United States 22,614
Uruguay 180
Uzbekistan 11
Vanuatu 2
Venezuela 89
Vietnam 108
Zimbabwe 5
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