Everyone that likes to travel a bit different have probably heard about Couchsurfing and maybe also about Warmshowers. Those are platforms were you can find a place to stay with locals instead of staying in a hotel or camping. Staying with a local gives you a completely different experience when you travel. You get to know how people live, how they are, what they do and you share amazing stories. They can show you their secrets of the city and how to avoid tourist traps. For me, there is one important rule to all of this. Expect nothing, gain everything. It is also interesting to open your own house for travelers to understand better how hosts can feel when you travel.
Enjoying some home made beer at one of our Couchsurfing hosts in Stavanger.
I already use Couchsurfing for a long time. I hosted hundreds of people into my home and I also surfed within different countries. I never had a bad experience. It is a great way to meet people along the road when you are traveling. Most of the time you will need to send requests to people to ask if you could stay with them. So far I had different experiences with Couchsurfing but they were all great. I would recommend traveling like this to everyone. You learn the locals and how they live. You travel differently.
An alternative for cyclists is Warmshowers. It works basically the same as Couchsurfing and people are prepared when you travel with a bicycle. Especially in Germany and Denmark, we met a lot of wonderful and sweet people through Warmshowers. I only discovered Warmshowers a year ago and now I use it in combination with Couchsurfing. They are both great platforms with both their positive and negative sides. Warmshowers is not so known as Couchsurfing but that makes it sometimes more special.
So what should you choose? Warmshowers or Couchsurfing?
One of our hosts was performing art at the Palace Park of Oslo
Pros and cons
- Popular – many hosts available
- Good interface and intuitive
- Reference system
- Limited requests unless you pay for a premium account
- More difficult to find hosts in small towns
- Completely free
- Map view – you can see all the hosts in your area easily
- For cyclists
- Not so intuitive to send messages
- Fewer hosts available compared to Couchsurfing
Do’s and don’ts as a guest or host
- do be open to meet other kinds of people
- do be respectful towards your host (and his house) or guest
- do something nice for your host (cook a meal, invite them to a beer)
- do be yourself
- do be independent – your host has a life too
- do be grateful and don’t take anything for granted
- and above all – do have fun!
- don’t force anything
- don’t expect anything
At one of our hosts in Denmark, we slept in an old caravan.
Both platforms are a great way to use but more importantly to meet local people. Like I wrote before, I never had a bad experience. Both websites are great. Warmshowers is only for cyclists so if you travel in a different way then you should use Couchsurfing or BeWelcome (never used that one). So go out there and meet some new locals when you travel!