Alberto, Jenna, Martin, David, Marengo, Diego, Wade, Robert, Matthew, Ross, Kate, Sean, Alain, Carla, Eddy, John, Jane, and Ross all have something in common: I’ve met them through the accommodation sharing website for travelling cyclists called Warmshowers. Some have stayed with me, others have accommodated me on my travels and a couple I have met via Warmshowers simply because we share a common interest in cycling and travelling. Many people have heard of Couchsurfing, fewer know of Warmshowers but it does something very similar with one key (in my opinion) improvement: the fact that you have a common interest with the people you are meeting along the way which is, of course, cycling…
The site is free to use; all you need to do is register your availability to host others in your own home and you can then take advantage (in a nice way) of the network of over 55,000 potential contacts worldwide. Just under 3,796 of those contacts are in the UK of which I am proud to say that I am one. There are more statistics available here by the way if you’d like to see just how wide spread is the Warmshowers community. Some countries have many potential hosts, others have fewer. I especially like the fact that there is one person Afghanistan, one in Botswana, one in Djibouti, one in the Dominican Republic, one in Lesotho, one in Malawi, one in Mali, one in Papua New Guinea and one in Turkmenistan should you be passing through their respective countries.
Many of you will know this already as you may be a fellow member of Warmshowers or you may have read posts here on CyclingEurope.org that have mentioned the website and the people who I have met through the site (the posts are here incidentally should you wish to read them). I haven’t had a visitor in Reading since October (he was Alberto from Italy) but I do hope to make use of the site again later in the year when I set off on my travels from southern Spain to northern Norway. So, why am I bothering to mention Warmshowers today? Well, like many such organisations, Warmshowers is run by volunteers who give up their time to make sure that the site functions for people like me who pay nothing to use it. But there are costs involved and, in a similar way to Wikipedia, they are asking for donations. This means that the site can continue to function without a subscription being required or indeed adverts being introduced onto the site. I’m not against adverts incidentally but we don’t need them everywhere when alternative models of financing are available, do we? And I’m sure many people wouldn’t subscribe in the first place if there was an up front charge. So, I’ve just donated a modest $10. That’s just £6.72. If all of the 55,000 registered users did the same, that would be, well… you don’t need me to do the maths but it would more than cover the costs of running the site. If you are already a Warmshowers member, I would encourage you to make a small donation. If you aren’t a member but are interested in accommodating others or being accommodated yourself from time to time (preferably both – that’s how the system works best!), please follow this link to donate or this link to join up. Below are some of the people I’ve met over the past few years. If you bump into any of them along the way, say hello from me.