Have any MeFites participated in the Hospitality Club?
July 5, 2005 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Have any MeFites participated in the Hospitality Club?

The other day, I met an Australian man who was spending a year traveling around the world. He said he was able to do this in part because he could stay at members’ homes. It seems like a great idea to me, but I was wondering in hearing other first hand experiences from people who’ve participated.

I noticed the organization is linked with a few student exchange organizations (like YFU, which I’ve participated in).

Travelers, have you felt safe and comfortable in these strangers’ homes?

Hosts, have you felt comfortable letting strangers into your home?

What kind of problems has anyone had? Did the organization help out at all if there was a problem?

I hope that travelers and hosts could share good experiences, too!
posted by luneray to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Heh. I've been a member for about two years. I've never ended up staying at anyone else's house, and no one has ever asked to stay at mine...
posted by klangklangston at 2:19 PM on July 5, 2005

Oh good, I have been wanting to Ask this, but haven't yet - maybe I can partially hijack your thread? What other similar programs or networks exist? Some have been posted here before, but I don't think all in one thread that I've seen. Luneray, if you're thinking of joining, maybe knowing what other options are available will help you decide.

(See? It's not really a hijack...)
posted by attercoppe at 2:33 PM on July 5, 2005

Klangklangston (can I just call you "klang"?)--have you tried to stay at someone's house, but there was no one available?

Attercoppe...the Australian guy also told me about GlobalFreeloaders, same idea (indeed, the two orgs thought about merging), but the same questions pertain. I like that Hospitality Club links with foreign exchange programs. YFU, et. al., are established organizations and help to distinguish HC from other clubs.
posted by luneray at 2:56 PM on July 5, 2005

Couchsurfing.com would be a similar concept, I assume.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:38 PM on July 5, 2005

I suspect there are also swingers clubs that do much the same, plus sex. If that's what you're into.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on July 5, 2005

Lune: Yeah, I did. But I was on a fairly tight itinerary, and ended up just staying with relatives.
posted by klangklangston at 5:17 PM on July 5, 2005

I have had one person stay at my house via CouchSurfing.com and it went totally fine. I also know about Servas.org which is specifically for peace/justice oriented people; I know many people who have travelled using them and hosted using them andhave mostly favorable reports.

I think situations like this work best when you are okay at reporting what your needs are and when the people who stay with you or host you are good at that as well. The gal who stayed with us was really friendly and was planning on cooking all her own food [we said she could use the ktichen, no big deal] but we all wound up being home and cooked a big meal together. I might have been weirded out if she had just assumed there would be food for her to eat, or had been one of those hog-the-bathroom folks, but she was delightful. I've hosted a lot of semi-random strangers at my place over the last decade from lots of places [even MetaFilter!] and it has always gone well.

Our gal did wind up having some car trouble on the way home which entailed a bit of help from us to get to a garage and an extra day of staying with us which we didn't mind at all. However, that is always a risk you run and probably worth keeping in mind if you run a fairly tight household.
posted by jessamyn at 5:28 PM on July 5, 2005

I was a member of Servas for some years, in the 80's. When I first moved to the US, I traveled from coast to coast for nearly 2 years, which were some of the best in my life, using Servas. Thru the organization, I met dozens of people of all kinds, they took me into their homes and many became my very good friends. Later I was also a host. Check out their charter, and (minimum) requirements. I hope they are still as operational as they were 20 years ago (Servas started in 1947 in Danmark)
posted by growabrain at 10:53 PM on July 5, 2005

I've been a member of several hospitality exchange sites for quite a few years. I've never felt unsafe and the only time I felt uncomfortable was when I was offered a Italian delicacy of fried cowbrains for dinner, by my hosts.

As for hosting people, I try to get a feel for them via email. If I get a bad vibe or think that there might be a personality clash, I think twice about hosting them.

There are quite a few more hospitality sites out there.

I wrote an article a while ago about the phenomena and here are some general tips I picked up from other hosts and guests:

* Make arrangements in advance, as hosts may need time to prepare for guests.
* Ask questions ahead of time, so you know what to bring and especially how to meet up with your host.
* Do not be a burden about needing food or rides, but if you need something minor, like a towel, ask.
* Clean up after yourself and offer to help with household chores.
* Make your own plans and do not expect your host to play tour guide, but do invite them along when appropriate.
* Consider bringing a gift, especially something not easily found at your destination or something specific to your home area.
* Be respectful of any house rules.
* Be considerate, especially if your host is working during your stay.
* Be tolerant of kids, pets, and cultural differences.
* Don't overstay your welcome. Consider a quote from Benjamin Franklin, who said "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."
* Become a host. The hospitality exchange network needs hosts in order to thrive.
posted by xulu at 7:25 AM on July 6, 2005

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