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.
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.
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.
What: Warm Showers can be found at: http://www.warmshowers.org/
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|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||48|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||2|
|Isle of Man||9|
|Serbia and Montenegro||4|
|Trinidad and Tobago||3|
|United Arab Emirates||33|