There are many different styles of bike touring and different places people prefer to stay when travelling. This can range from expensive all-inclusive hotels and B&B’s to cheaper hostels, Airbnbs and wild camping. It all depends on where you are going, your budget and where you want to stay.
An option which provides free accommodation for bike tourers is Warmshowers, which is popular among regular travellers but newer cyclists may not of heard of it before. Founded in 1993, this is a non-profit website and community similar to Couchsurfing but specifically accommodating cyclists and bike tourers. It is all built on trust and is free to use, making it attractive for those on a budget and desire to meet the locals. It also encourages its members to host cyclists at their home if it is possible, making it a two way community. Currently there are nearly 60,000 hosts worldwide, meaning that even in remote areas, there may be a host nearby. Sometimes in large cities there are so many hosts it takes awhile to decide which one to contact!
- 95,126 members
- 57,395 hosts
- 161 countries
- 51% of members in Europe
- USA is the largest country by members – 21,875
There are limited rules or expectations that are set out by Warmshowers, so most information is given out by the hosts themselves. On each profile has a little personal bio and information like how any people they can accommodate and what they can provide. Some will provide beds while others may just have space for camping in their gardens.
- Create a positive profile, with any necessary information and useful links to any blogs, Instagram etc
- Be polite when requesting to stay with a host
- Be clear on dates and number of nights you wish to stay
- Always respect the hosts, after all its their house and goodwill allowing you to stay!
- Download the app on your phone before you go
Personal experiences with Warmshowers:
When cycling down Europe on my gap year, I stayed in Warmshowers in Sweden, Germany, Italy and France. Again last year in the summer 2017, I also stayed in Warmshowers with my family in France. All of my experiences have been different but very enjoyable. I am always surprised at the level of trust the hosts have with complete strangers, with just the love of biking and travelling in common.
In Italy, I stayed with Andrea who had been on many long cycling trips, including in America. He had a lovely house with a swimming pool overlooking Lake Garda. After filling me up with Italian pizza, salad and local wine, he had to work during the night so trusted me to look after the house all night. I don’t know many people who would put so much trust in a cyclist that they had only met for a few hours!
If you are looking for places to stay while bike touring and want to meet people along the way, I definitely recommend having a look on the Warmshowers website. All the hosts that I’ve stayed with have been very generous and friendly, a great way to end a long day on the bike! I must mention that safety is still an issue, and to make sure you feel comfortable about staying with a Warmshowers host before you head out.