What follows is a list of hospitality clubs. These are clubs whose main aim it is to bring travellers and hosts together, providing a form of cultural exchange. Be warned, no-one involved in a hospitality club is running a hotel or accomodation service. If you're just looking for a cheap place to stay, reconsider. If you're looking to meet people and to share some time and energy with them then delve into these clubs.
A proliferation of these clubs has appeared on the interent and I've found myself unable to keep track of them. Alas, it seems to me that this rapid duplication of services, which was already evident in some of the clubs I've listed below, is driven by the simple need for a gimmicky idea with which to generate a site which has traffic and visitors and hence an advertising pool. I would quite frankly, recommend anyone interested in the idea, to focus on the better of the groups I've presented here. For on-line use, you should check the dmoz list of Hospitality Clubs as well!
This list was compiled and was maintained by Bernd Wechner. It is one of a set of similar lists which can be found on the World Wide Web at:
PLEASE NOTE: These lists are dated. I ran out of time to maintain them years ago. I make no pretense of being able to do so into the future. They were a nice idea and popularly received and I leave it on line for historic reasons mainly. Do not expect it to be accurate or relevant today. You may still of course find some pertinent ideas and tips in them if you're lucky. DO NOT send me a request to exchange links.
Finally, I regularly receive questions regarding these lists, usually for more information. It is very unlikely that I have more information, and such requests unfortunately are a low priority in my mailbox. That's life.
The Hitch-hiker's Registry
In January of 1998 I wrote an article suggesting a hospitality club for and by hitch-hikers would be a good idea, as they have special needs and characters and tend to understand each other well. Around the same time a groupd of hitch-hikers in Eastern Europe were deciding to do just that (independent of my article, now that's synchronicity for you), and built an email based hospitality club. In 2000 it went onto the web, and is easily the best of its class. It provide all levels of membership, and security as well as email notification, database download features, user statistics, grouping, felxible search, full access to data on approval, heck if you can think of a feature this site doesn't have, they'll add it!. This sets the technical standard for on-line hospitality clubs! The only problem is, it's full of hitch-hikers, so if you don't like hitch-hikers you're better off in another club (even though they're not as good ;-).
- A hospitality club founded on the internet, as an alternative to SERVAS which the creators of HOSPEX (Servas members) fealt was too heavily abused as a free hotel service. Mostly American then European members, with a fairly thin spread of members elsewhere. Membership is free, though registration as a host is required to access the database as a guest. Alas, because the moderators have lives to lead, and earn no money through HOSPEX, it is very very slow and dormant to be frank. Trying to get a response out of anyone involved is not easy. The interface predates the web, and is fundamentally driven by a listserver, but still, they can be found on the Web at:
Stay 4 Free
These guys claimed at first to be the first such club ever and promised to revise it to read "first on the web" in response to my mention of their error, but of course, given that HOSPEX has been around for some 7 years (since 1991) and is still around (if rather dormant), their claims are a little on the shady side of true. Further, two years later they still claim to be "the first free accommodation network". I don't hold much respect for commerical liers, nor unfilled promises, so I have to open with big thumbs down. Still, they have a very professional site as far as graphics and presentation go, and it looks good to be frank and they offer four catgories of hosting Business, Home Exchange, Gay and Backpackers. I wish I could say more. I find their database painful to search, they provide no clue as to how many members they have or how fast they are aquiring them, and their name alas, for my liking engenders all the wrong approaches to hospitality exchanges, namely the financial and not the social. Read the notes under Servas below. This is a purely on-line service as far as I can tell. Membership is free.
International Hospitality Exchange
This club has over 2000 members worldwide. Which is about all I can say for it. It's on-line only, and driven by rather poor software alas. Security and features are about as low as you can get, and frankly it looks like a quick attempt to justify some banner advertising. I'd stay clear of the International Hospitality Exchange personally, as much as I hate delivering a bad review.
Perhaps the largest and most organised group. Conceived in Denmark in 1948 and growing steadily since. A healthy international membership. Affiliated with the United Nations. Host and guest membership fees seem to depend upon which country you're in. But there is generally a refundable deposit on the host lists on top of membership fees (if any). Be warned; SERVAS is NOT a travel club, it is a peace organisation, and increasingly its members are losing patience with guests who see it as a free hotel service, which is hardly furthering its goals very much. Try not to contribute to this problem, and please lean towards other groups on this list if you more interested in a cheap place to stay while globetrotting than you are in furthing international tolerance and understanding. Which is probably doing those other groups a disservice also! Servas has appeared on the web in many places and it's not worth my while to provide a directory of pages here. Any search engine with the key word SERVAS will turn up a number of home pages.
11 John Street, Room 706, NY NY 10038, USA
229 Hillcrest Avenue, Willowdale, Ontario M2N 3P3, CANADA
333 Albion Street, Brunswick 3056, AUSTRALIA
Rhoenstrasse 70, 60385 Frankfurt, GERMANY
Hospitality Exchange (A Traveler's Directory)
An American group somewhat smaller than SERVAS and less formal. Mostly American then European members, with a fairly thin spread of members elsewhere. A nominal fee ($20 per annum) covers both host and guest membership. They also went on-line, but the directory is only available on paper. Frankly clubs like this are doomed given the free electronic alternatives, but this is one of the oldest, and reputable of them.
P.O. Box 561
Lewistown, Montana 59457 USA
The World For Free
Another hospitality club with an Internet link though the member lists are available on paper only!. This one was brought into being by a touring musician, who subsequenty interested many of friends in the idea. So there are many musicians and artists in the club. But that's not a restiction by any means. The name alas, for my liking engenders all the wrong approaches to hospitality exchanges, namely the financial and not the social. Read the notes under Servas above. These guys have the audacity to ask $25 membership fee when their competitors (above) are free. That's probably going to change and is only the case becuase they exist as a little booklet like many of the clubs below and have printing and mailing costs, where the clubs above are purely electronic and you carry your own printing costs.
PO Box 137 Prince Street Sta.
New York, NY 10012
Fax. 212 979-8167
The American Field Service (AFS) describes themselves as "an international, voluntary, non-governmental non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world." The AFSHN is an informal Hospitality Network for AFS members.
Fax : +49-261-6509 111 ==>To: Veit Kühne
The Friendship Force
A citizen exchange group formed by President Carter in 1977. Organises one week exchanges between the 40 odd member countries for cultural exchange. They have clubs in over 350 communities world-wide.
34 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30303
MENSA is the international organisation for smart folk. High IQs only here.They have many special interest groups and one is SIGHT, the Service of Information, Guidance & Hospitality to Travellers. "It is a network of Mensans around the world who want to meet other Mensans. Some travel to do so; others welcome travelling Mensans into their homes.The SIGHT network aims to look after both hosts and guests, providing each party with the information to enable them to be considerate and helpful to each other. The SIGHT co-ordinator will put an intending visitor in touch with a fellow member willing to provide accommodation in the destination country, having first written to the host and the guest to confirm arrangements. It is important to note that SIGHT exists only to promote leisure travel and tourism for Mensans and is not an immigration agency, nor a source of long-term or permanent accommodation." YOu need to join Mensa first, and you'll find all details on their web site.
Footnote: I've never been real fond of the idea of a club for smarties. Always struck me as a little aloof, exclusive, and pretentious. I have kept my distance on those grounds alone, though I'm sure it's full of wonderful folk all the same. Still I had to laugh out loud, to find a public web site (to which I won't point you for discretion's sake) which lists all of the international SIGHT coordinators and is headed: "WARNING: This list is for the use of Mensa members only. If you are not a member, please go away quietly". Is that smart? Or what? Maybe the club's not so exclusive after all?
The Globetrotter's Club
A travel club, which publishes a list of members, many of which are prepared to host fellow members. See the Travel Clubs list for more information.
Ambassador Exchange Travel and Hospitality Club
- A travel club, which focuses strongly on contact and hospitality exchanges. See the Travel Clubs list for more information.
- A truly international youth group which among many other things, also organises cultural exchange and contacts. Supported by the international community service group Rotary International.
One Rotary Centre
1560 Sherman Avenue
Evanston, Illinois 60201
The only Rotaract group on the web so far as I know, can be found at:
WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms)
- WWOOF is an exchange group. You get a place to stay and something to eat in return for your help in managing an organic farm or smallholding. Stay for a weekend, or a month whatever you work out with your hosts! Membership is very cheap, and you get a list of member farms in return.
- Lots of member groups to choose from (these addresses may be dated, check the WWOOF websit if you can):
Mt Murrindal Reserve, W. Tree, Via Buchan 3885, AUSTRALIA
19 Bradford Road, Lewes BN17 1RB, Sussex, UK
Stettingerstr 3, 6301 Pohlheim, GERMANY
PO Box 1172, Nelson, NEW ZEALAND. Ph. 03-5449890. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ballymalone, Tuamgraney, Co Clare, EIRIE
Maritimes, RR5, Bridegetown, Nova Scotia B0S 1C0, CANADA
13201 Harding, Sylmar, CA 91342, USA
3231 Hillside Road, Deming, WA 98244, USA
SATIVA, Route 2 box 242-w, Viola, WI 54664, USA
NEWOOF, PO Box 937, Belchertown, MA 01007, USA
MAWOOF, 1601 Lakeside Avenue #607, Richmond, VA 23228, USA
WEEBIO, Chaupreheid 64, 4081 Cherron, BELGIUM
VHH, Garsdalsveg 30, 8800 Viborg, DENMARK
NATUR ET PROGRES, 53 Rue Vaugirord, 75006 Paris, FRANCE
INTEGRAL, Apdo 2580, 08080 Barcelona, SPAIN
APOG, Herman Fossgate 9, 5000 Bergen, NORWAY
- A hospitality service for those who speak Esperanto, or would like to learn. It is coordinated by World Esperanto Youth Organization (TEJO) and at last count contained some 900 hosts in 70 countries. If you'd like to learn esperanto check out the free course at:
A search of the Web for Esperanto will turn up a lot of resources and a lot of esperantists. Alternately you can contact the Universal Esperantists Association itself:
Nieuwe Binnenweg 176i
3015 BJ Rotterdam
The club Pasporta Servo is itself at:
- Another group organised by esperantists, more specifically by the Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda (S.A.T. - Worldwide association of non-nationalism). It is more than just a hospitality club, the name is in fact "Friendship Network", but hospitality is a part of friendship. They can be contacted at:
Rue Viktor Hugo 88
Lesbian and Gay Hospitality Exchange International
- I think the name says it all ...
P.O. Box 612, Station "C"
Montreal, Quebec H2L 4K4,
- Homestays are ogranised for active people over 50 years of age between the United States and New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia and Japan.
12533 Pacato Circle North
San Diego, CA 921128
Ph. (619) 485-1696
Fx. (619) 487-1492
Woman's Hospitality Exchange International Network
- A hospitality exchange network aimed purely at women. They appear to have very rigorous membership control and fairly high fees, attempting to provide a secure service minimising the risk to the woman travelling alone.
The Warm Shower List
- A list of Internet and off Internet persons who have offered their hospitality towards touring cyclists. The extent of the hospitality depends on the host and may range from simply a spot to pitch a tent to meals, a warm (hot!) shower, and a bed. Membership is free.
Vanier G1M 2Y1
Women Welcome Women
- A non-profit trust whose objective is to further international friendship by encouraging and facilitating women of differing nationalities to visit one another.
Granta, 8a, Chestnut Avenue, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP11 1DJ, UK
2 Michellan Court, Donvale 3111, AUSTRALIA
- Organises family to family homestay trips to the ex-USSR, to deliver peronalised aid packages.
P.O. Box 10697,
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Ph. 206 842 8918
Global Social Venture Network
- Organises homestay trips to Poland and Russia.
721 Montecillo Road,
San Rafael, CA 94903,
Ph. 714 752 9036
Das Schlafbuch der ErdbürgerInnen
A German booklet literally "The Sleeping Book for Earth Citizens", this is a small club of hosts for alternative people. People who share concerns about "ecology, community (forming), research, environmentally tolerable forms of society, freedom from violence, alternate lifestyles, ... researching, working and living." It has a few hundred members in Germany, and can be obtained for 8 Euros per annum from
P.O. Box 1110
ADFC (Allgemeines Deutches Fahrrad Club - General German Cycling Club) has a booklet with some 3000 addresses of cycling friends in Germany (Dachgeber = Roofgiver, or host). It is aimed at touring cyclists.
- Aimed at touring cyclists. I know no more alas.
INNter Lodging Co-Op
- This doesn't appear to be a hospitality club in the same sense as most on this list, the rules seem a little odd. Apparently it provides overnight shelter for members. All members agree to make their homes available for at least 4 months a year. Members make lodging reservations with host by phone or mail, preferably 2 weeks in advance. There are apparently some 250-300 in the Uited States and Canada with members in England, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia and Indonesia as well. Membership is expensive, in the order of US$100 to join, $30 per year, plus $5 a night for lodging.
P.O. Box 7044,
Tacoma WA 98407,
Experiment in International Living
- Appears to be a home exchange club with a stronger focus on Hospitality than on exchange. Check it out under Home Exchange Clubs.