One of the things I love about cycling is its community – you could talk to any cyclist and have something to talk about. This is especially the case for biketouring. I had the opportunity to biketour through a few countries and one challenge arises every time – keeping the costs down, especially in regards to accommodation. A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to www.warmshowers.org, a portal for touring cyclists who are looking for a place to stay – for free, anywhere in the world.
Now this sounds thrilling and sketchy at the same time.
How would I, especially as a young, female cyclist, know that the host is genuine?
Well, I don’t!
So I was hesitant of trying it out.
But a few years ago, when I failed to find a reasonably priced accommodation in Honolulu, Hawaii, I thought I will give it a go. And my experience was amazing. My host was great and introduced me to places and people (like going to a nudity beach!) I would have otherwise never met. My next warmshower experience happened in New Zealand and again, I was overwhelmed by the kindness and uniqueness of the experience I would have never had if I stayed in a hotel. Then Australia again and my last experience this June in Geneva, Switzerland is of special notice. My host told me he would pick me up from the airport. I told him that I will bring a bike and I hope it will fit into his car. He said not to worry. Last thing I expected was to be picked up by bike – a tandem with a trolley!
All of my hosts had a unique lifestyle and I feel fortunate to had a little peak into their lives. I have stayed in touch with some and I always know that they will be a bed for me at their home (and vice versa).
Having been always the recipient of the warmshower opportunities, I finally could give back as a host. A few days ago, I was contacted by a touring Italian cyclist who has been riding around Australia for the past two months. Besides getting the spark of seeking my next adventure again, Raffaele gave me new ideas where to travel and reignited the adventure spirit in me.
I would encourage every touring cyclists to give warmshowers a shot. Bring some great adventure stories, an open mind and a bottle of wine along and you will have a fantastic experience!