August 29, 2013
This entry is the fourth and final in a series on Bicycle Travel Etiquette. To read the first, second, and third entries, see An Introduction to Bicycle Travel Etiquette, Bicycle Travel Etiquette: How To Be A Good Guest, and Bicycle Travel Etiquette: How to Be A Good Host.
While I am aware of Couchsurfing.org, another online resource for travelers, in this series I purposely chose to address the Warmshowers.org community as well as spontaneous meetings of strangers on the road.
Both Warmshowers and Couchsurfing serve an adventurous group of people — those wishing to travel the world far and wide. They facilitate a connection between people for hospitality's sake.
The main difference between the two groups is that Warmshowers is a network of bicycle travels exclusively. As such, this made Warmshowers the more straightforward choice as a focus in the series.
When I began writing about Bicycle Travel Etiquette issues in December 2012, I wasn't sure exactly why the conflicts might be arising. Since then I have come to think some of it emerges from the intersection of younger and older crowds. It could be that the difference in life experiences of these two groups leads to misunderstandings about what is "common sense" etiquette. (This is a generalization and I know there are counter-examples.) My hope in creating some How To's as guides was that they could ease that difference and increase the odds of everyone coming out of the deal feeling good.
And whether this is true or not, the impression many people have of the Couchsurfing community is that it tends to attract a younger crowd and thus fewer (or different) conflicts arise. This is not based on any scientific evidence and certainly, Warmshowers has its fair share of the under-30 crowd, too.
I would encourage you to tap into either one or both of these communities when planning your next bike trip. Because as longtime Warmshowers registrar Randy Fay says, "the bottom line is that the thing that makes Warmshowers beautiful is the same thing that makes Couchsurfing beautiful — it's the amazing people who against all odds share hospitality, which is completely incomprehensible. It totally goes against everything we read in the paper!"
The last group I mentioned earlier, where the bond is born of an invitation from an unplanned encounter, ages of all participants can vary widely. This often happens based on a connection made face to face and guides seem less necessary in this instance. However, if either party wishes to create more of these experiences, a reading of the How To's may aid in this process.
In the end, the guides compiled are mirrors of each other that simply view the same situation from different perches. We have created a Bicycle Travel Etiquette page in our How To department with links to each of these posts for your reference. If you have suggestions of other pieces that would be helpful to include, let us know.
I want to thank all the hosts and guests who participated in the conversations on this topic. Your contribution helped form our two How To guides into a helpful reference for hosts and guests. There are some good stories and advice in the comment threads of the blog posts. I'd love for the conversation to continue so if you have something to add, please do!
Photo 2: Adam likes to say 'thanks' to his hosts by baking them bagels. Photo by Crystal Bae.
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.