10,000 miles journey begins with the first step.
if you are fear to begin with the host networks. Trust me! You are not alone! Well I have to confess that I was afraid to use host network to travel. I have heard about it from a couple who were waiting in the same queue as me when I was applying for a working holiday visa to Australia.
After a while I applied it and got accepted from the host in Byron bay , Australia. But the fear of uncertainty kept me away from her. I changed my plan and canceled that trip to stay in my comfort zone , working and saving money. Then I could travel when I have enough money.
My really first journey of host network begun after I finished my 6 months full time job(As a condition of working holiday visa). That time I really want to travel. I save some money but I found out that my saving would be gone in less a month even if I travel cheaply. Don’t forget that Australia is a super expensive country to travel.
That was when my idea of traveling by host network was came out again. Let’s get back and see what should you do if you are new and want to travel in this style!
Step by step for beginner.
Step 1 : You have to apply and be focused.
Yeahhh well you might say I am not an idiot. I know that I have to apply before using it. But do you know what? There are many host networks right now. And you might look through without doing anything.
So I recommend you to be focused on networks you like. Then take time with them. For me , I focus on two network which are…..
- Couch Surfing ( www.couchsurfing.org ) This one is free and good for beginner.
- Helpx (www.helpx.net) You have to pay around $70 to have a two years of membership of this network.
Step 2 : Create your profile.
Your profile is the first impression. From my experience if you organize your profile structure well , with good details and pictures. Hosts would recognize that you are a reliable person. As most of popular hosts get hundreds of request every day. You have to be outstanding in case you want to stay with a nice host.
Ps. It’s like you create your profile on your facebook. It’s not hard but you have to understand that each network is different ie. , Couch surfing network is more informal than helpx and have no requirement of any working skill.
Step 3 : Choose host carefully!
It could be your best or the worst lifetime experience by staying with a stranger whom you have never met him/her before. Again you could get your host’s information only by his/her profile. That is why profile is very important to both parties.
After I have got some good reviews. I would choose only the 4 stars up hosts. They have a lot of reviews from helper or csers. Reviews could tell you a lot about your hosts. But if your host has all good comments except one or two bad comment. You should read on the person who gave a bad comment’s profile. Then you could decide whether he/she is right or wrong.
If you only use couch surfing. You don’t have to let anyone to stay with you. You could attend the meeting or you could be your Cser’s tour guide.
My first experience with my host was awesome. It brought me to this point , to do what I love and to spread out this kind of lovely traveling style.
Step 4 : Try Try Try….
There is a will there is a way! Keep it in your mind
It might be hard when you have just started to use host networks. You are new and have no reference. Try to read each host’s profile that you are interested in carefully. Answer the question! What does he/she want? The hints is in his/her profile.
Then think about what do you have. If you love to cook. Tell them that you could cook for them. It would be an advantage if you have some useful skills than you are just a nice person who love to travel!
When I first started , I did all above and I send many emails to many hosts. After I got about three references. It was so much easier to be accepted!
Noted : Helpx network needs your skills more than Couch Surfing. Some Couch surfing hosts accepts you only because your profile’s pictures. Some hosts just accept anybody because they really want to help but it is rare. And in couch surfing network , you could get reference by meeting people in network.
Step 5 : Early prepare!
I learned from being a host and being hosted that both parties love to get contact earlier. The best notice period could be about a week ahead. So they could organize their schedule. I talked to some friends who were host and we have the same experience that some Csers just change his/her mind in the last minutes. That was the most frustrated situation. Some of serious hosts would give them a bad comment.
If you contact your host less than a week before you arrive. It might be OK. But it is more professional for them to see that you prepare yourself ahead. It is more possible that people who prepare them self would not cancel the an accepted request in the last minute!
But be careful if you plan too long ahead. Some host might forget your request as well. So the next step is……
Step 6 : Confirmation
I always confirm my schedule to my host to avoid the mistake that could cause a waste of time and frustration. If I plan to have a trip with helpx network. I would contact hosts at least about a month. Then after they accept me I would confirm them that I would arrive and stay with them at least a week before I arrive.
I think it is an art and take time to get used to it. But if you learn for a while. You would find that there are many awesome hosts waiting for you to have a good time with them.
Step 7 : Give a notice ahead
Accident could happen with both parties!
I did cancel my host who accepted me. And I was canceled by Csers who I accepted them to show them around. It would be a OK. situation if you have a good reason to cancel. And it would be much better if you give noticed to your host at least three days in advanced.
The worst case is that you would not show up. Most of hosts would defiantly write a bad comment for someone who do that. And it might end your journey by that network.
Good luck on your new road. I wish you all would have new awesome experience like I did and some lesson to learn experience that I got from host networks as well! All the best!