How To Be a Great Warmshowers Guest: 10 Key Tips

Door welcome mat that says Warmshowers Family Rules
Photo by Ken Francis

The Warmshowers community is held together by a thread of generous cyclists worldwide. Therefore, it’s crucial that we all do our part to share respect and keep this network strong—especially when staying with hosts.

Whether you are considering your first tour or have stayed with several hosts before, it’s always a great idea to think about how you can be a respectful guest that uses the system responsibly. Here we will compile a few tips on how to be a great guest when staying with hosts during your bike tours, based on feedback from some much-appreciated Warmshowers hosts themselves.

10 Ways To Be an Excellent Guest

Street sign that says Parking for Warmshowers Bicyclists Only
Photo by Ken Francis

It’s not hard to be an excellent Warmshowers guest. The most important thing to remember is that Warmshowers hosts have lives too. Many hosts accommodate guests in their free time outside of work. They are generous enough to open their homes for free, so it is important to be considerate of their space and schedule during your stay. Here are some ways you can be an excellent guest and keep our community strong.

1. Read the Profile

Your first step should always be to read your host’s complete profile before reaching out. This saves time and energy for everyone! Hosts go through a lot of effort to communicate what guests need to know in their profile. Skipping the details in the profile could cause you to miss important information like availability and stay requirements. Sometimes, the information is even essential to your stay.

For example, long-time Warmshowers host Murdock explained how he puts valuable information in his profile, including how to find his home and a timeframe of when guests should arrive. Because he stays in an area away from cell reception, the information in his profile is essential for guests to know how to get to him and what to expect.

No matter the situation, reading your host’s profile is a crucial step to getting things off on the right foot and avoiding confusion.

2. Complete Your Profile

Having a complete, informative profile goes both ways. Ensure you have a complete profile to make things easier on your hosts too. Include a photo and necessary information like your travel dates and special requests. Some hosts consider how complete a cyclist’s profile is before agreeing to host them, so filling out your profile benefits you too.

3. Communicate!

The most important thing for any Warmshowers arrangement is communication. Communicate everything from arrival times to diet restrictions so that your host has the full picture and there are no hiccups when it comes time for your stay. Updating your host is a respectful way to ensure that they are able to prepare for you and aren’t caught off guard by your plans.

If you think you are going to be late, be sure to let your host know as soon as possible. If you need special accommodation for meals, communicate those too. It’s always better to overcommunicate than not communicate enough!

4. Plan Ahead

Timing is important when staying with a Warmshowers host. First of all, make sure you give hosts ample time to plan for your arrival. Start planning where you will stay at least two weeks in advance. It will be much more difficult for hosts to accommodate you on short notice.

At the same time, consider whether a host will fit into your itinerary before reaching out. For example, if you think you will be pushing it on mileage to make it to a host’s home on time, maybe choose to stop somewhere else for a night and plan to stay with that host the next day.

The last thing you want to do is to arrive several hours late and need to find somewhere else to stay entirely. Late guests can throw off a host’s entire schedule, and poor planning makes things more difficult for everyone involved.

5. Stick to the Plan

After planning and discussing with your host, make sure to stick to the plan so there is no confusion on anyone’s side. Ken Francis, a Warmshowers host who has hosted over 300 cyclists, says, “I appreciate no surprises regarding anything beyond what was discussed in preceding messages.”

Surprises make planning more difficult for your host. After all, hosts have their own jobs and daily plans that they work around to accommodate guests. Stick to the plan by arriving at the time you discussed with your hosts with the number of people you said you’d be with.

If you tell your host you will arrive by 6 pm, come as close to that time as possible. Avoid making any extra stops on the way if you think you might be cutting it close. If you arrive early, spend some time exploring the local sites, as showing up too early can be an issue if your host is still at work.

6. Respect the Space

No matter who you stay with, you should always respect your host’s space. Remember that Warmshowers hosts voluntarily open up their homes to guests for free. “It’s important that guests remember that they are staying in someone’s home, not a hotel,” Murdock noted.

Of course, hosts open up their homes because they enjoy doing so, but guests should also be mindful that it is still someone’s residence. As a result, guests shouldn’t expect hotel service and should consider how they can respect their host’s space.

Some ways to respect the space include:

  • Asking before bringing your bike inside the home
  • Asking before using appliances and materials inside the home
  • Verifying if you can do laundry and when would be a good time
  • Cleaning up after yourself
  • Clarifying and following quiet hours in the home
A group of people around the dinner table
Photo by Ken Francis
4 people kayaking in the bay
Photo by Ken Francis
7. Be Considerate

Similar to the previous point—when you stay with a host, make sure to have common courtesy with the little things. As one example, if you need to take a bath to relax your muscles, make sure it’s alright with your host, as they might still need some hot water for their morning shower.

Don’t be afraid to make conversation during dinner. Warmshowers hosts are always friendly and appreciate a kind guest who is at least a little conversational during their stay! Of course, be considerate of your host’s schedule as well. Make sure you are back on the road in time in the morning so they can get to work.

Being considerate can also mean giving back to your host during the stay. This can be as simple as offering to wash dishes after dinner or cleaning up after yourself by stripping the sheets off the bed in the morning. Hosts will always appreciate the extra effort.

Guests that go above and beyond make our community even stronger and help keep the love flowing through every interaction.

8. Leave Feedback

Leaving feedback helps both guests and hosts get a picture of what staying with others in the Warmshowers community is like. It also allows guests and hosts to figure out what they can improve upon during their future stays or hosting opportunities. After your stay, be sure to leave feedback on your hosts using the Warmshowers review system.

9. Keep in Touch

This one isn’t required, but it is an excellent way to make the most out of being a good guest while also making your host’s day. Murdock mentions that he loves receiving a postcard from guests he hosted or hearing confirmation that they completed their journey.

Keeping in touch also helps the community grow even stronger. It may also pay off later down the road. Maybe in the future, you can stay with a particular host again, join each other on a tour, or give back by allowing them to stay with you.

10. Return the Favor

This last tip is a big one. Warmshowers is a loving community of cyclists and hosts, and it stays strong due to the power of reciprocity. One way to be a great guest is to give back and leave a light on for fellow cyclists. If you had a great experience with your host, return the favor for other cyclists in the Warmshowers by doing the same. The power of supporting one another is what keeps our system going strong!

Altogether, the Warmshowers community thrives when we lift each other up. By being considerate toward your host and following the above tips, we can keep the system working for everyone and continue to spread generosity, all while guaranteeing safe and smooth travel experiences.