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Advice Greatly Appreciated

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Unregistered Imagen de anon_user
Advice Greatly Appreciated

Hi everyone, my name is Juan Carlos, born in Mexico, not a fan of nationalities but a big one when it comes to cultures and custombres I'm 29 and in May I'll be starting my second backpacking trip. This time I'm starting in Madrid, Spain and going all the way to Finland through the East Side. I'll be riding my bike and I would really APPRECIATE your help with camping tips like: "where to and not to camp" "roads to take" and stuff like that. My first trip was in South America and was fairly easy because there wasn't a language barrier, this time will be a bit different. I'm a freelance in web-design and graphic designer. I love talking like seriously a lot, I'm very fun to be around and helpful in anyway I can (if I don't know it, I'll learn it). I love sports and will be taking my hiking gear. I don't have a schedule so if you need a partner to ride-along let me know and I'll catch up, if there's something you wanna share and think I have to see, let me know and will get there. My favorite saying is "It's not where you're from, it's where you're headed to". I love reading a lot of meditation stuff like buddhism. Well this is pretty much a request/invitation to share a bit of knowledge with me if you're willing to. Thanx for reading. One last thing, if you can host me for a couple nights let me know, I'm trying to save as much as I can, I posted a photo of my route in the Facebook group. You can look me up Juan Carlos Ortiz Castro, and I'll be uploading a fan page but not just yet.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
You should contact WS hosts

You should contact WS hosts directly using the map instead of trying to find accommodation here. Also, adding a photo to your profile will greatly improve your changes of finding a place to stay.

Unregistered Imagen de anon_user
Re: advice greately appreciated

Not wishing to contradict Christopher Culver, it seems to me that Carlos was correct in posting his request for information in a forum, which doesn't stop him from contacting potential hosts on whichever route he ultimately chooses, based on whatever advice he might receive beforehand, he should also be congratulated on his excellent English & foresight. Good luck to you Carlos, get in touch if you want a warm welcome on your way to Finland...

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
I think Christopher was

I think Christopher was referring just to the host request, not the rest of the post. We get a fairly regular stream of new members posting on the forums requesting hosts. Hosts don't tend to come here looking for potential guests (in fact the forums don't really have a huge number of regular visitors in general) so it is something of a long shot. Rather than have a new member go away thinking Warmshowers doesn't work, regular visitors usually just point them in the right direction so that they will have a better chance of being hosted.

Unregistered Imagen de anon_user
Re: advice greately appreciated

I'm not sure Carlos or anyone else posting a similar request & getting a response like the one he got from Christopher would interpret it as being "positive" & not a rebuke, especially in view of the comment regarding a photo. As far as I know, WS is NOT a dating site, so does it really matter what someone looks like? For my part personality & interests are FAR more important... Regarding new members posting hosting requests in forums, so what if it's a long shot, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Carlos comes across as someone FLEXIBLE who is OPEN to suggestions to best plan his route, which will make it possible for him to have a better idea WHO to contact, so I can but only reiterate what I said previously, he was ABSOLUTELY right to post his request in a forum, it got some attention...

On a more practical level, my advice to Carlos (& to all cycle tourers for that matter) is to look out for CANALS on their route as they're a great way of AVOIDING cars & lorries! Canals are very often tree-lined, which in summer means cycling in the shade rather than in searing heat, the tow paths have the advantage of being dead level with only rises & falls at locks, a big advantage when laden with camping gear & it's easy to find places to camp along them, & they're a great way to get in & out of BIG cities COMPLETELY avoiding ALL roads; should he choose to, Carlos could travel virtually all the way to my house along canals in France (maybe the same is possible in Spain....) & could certainly do so in Holland! Canals are a also a great way to meet local people more likely to be like-minded (i.e. nature lovers) & a source of free food such as berries (depending on the time of year) & the odd fish from a friendly fisherman!

NOTE: make sure it's not ILLEGAL to fish in canals & adjoining feed lakes WITHOUT a permit before doing so yourself as this could land you in deep waters & would certainly antagonise the locals!

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Gerry, whenever people

Gerry, whenever hospitality exchange veterans compile a list of tips for newcomers who want to increase their chances of finding a host, “put some kind of photo on your profile” is always one of them. Yes, WS is not a dating site, but a photo, any photo, instead of a grey outline puts potential hosts more at ease psychologically; people like to get a sense of whom they are allowing into their home.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Gerry, I don't think any

Gerry, I don't think any rebuke was intended. Christopher has been a part of just about every online hospex community I could name, as for the photo, again, that is standard advice to a newcomer on any site. Rightly or wrongly, members who have seen several hundred profiles of hosts or guests will start make certain negative associations with that default grey silhouette - having a profile photo (as Chris said, any photo) really will improve one's chances as a guest looking for hosts.

See here for a recent discussion:

Nobody said he has no right to post a request in the forums, its just not the done thing here. Your response is so what if it's a long shot? I've already explained to you why my response would be (and has been on numerous occasions) the same as Christopher's - to point the member to the most productive method of finding hosts so we don't have someone abandon the site after a few weeks thinking that it doesn't work.

Unregistered Imagen de anon_user
Re rebuke & photos

@ Paul Harper: It strikes me you have confirmed Carlos was being rebuked as you say " Nobody said he has no right to post a request in the forums, its just not the done thing here." by which I assume you do mean WS & not just a forum... It is also interesting to note that Carlos is conspicuous by his absence from this thread, could it be he felt very much rebuked & decided to "abandon" WS, thereby achieving precisely what you & presumably Christopher don't want...

@ Paul & Christopher: Regarding photos, I seem to recall seeing in another thread someone objecting to a member having a bowl of flowers (or something to that effect) as their profile photo, so ANY photo is apparently NOT acceptable by some... We have a saying in English "Don't judge a book by it's cover" & in my experience, the same very much applies to people, someone who looks nice may turn out to be very much the opposite... There may also be VERY good reasons for not posting a mug shot as, whether we like it or not, people have prejudices & preferences, disfigurements, beards, piercings, skin colour etc. may consciously or unconsciously "influence" hosts, whether they like it or not... As far as I know offering a "warm shower" is not a euphemism, so ANYONE accepting or refusing someone BECAUSE of their look should perhaps join Couchsurfing...

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
No, I was just responding to

No, I was just responding to "he was ABSOLUTELY right to post his request in a forum" - nobody said he can't do it (just as nobody said he can't have a profile with no photo) it's just not the culture here ie: hosts do not tend to visit the forums thinking 'I wonder if anyone is requesting hosting in my town right now'. It could happen but chances are extraordinarily slim given the relatively small number of members who frequent the forums - additionally when the thread title is 'Advice greatly appreciated' the chances of a host in an unspecified area between Madrid and Finland clicking on it to find a potential guest seems to be approaching zero. It's quite possible the OP already knew that and already knows about making personal requests etc, but there are many new members who post here who don't. Again you have made yourself clear, you are happy to do nothing about it - great, but why are you policing veteran hospex members for taking the time to help new members increase their chances of being hosted?

I have no idea why the OP is absent from this thread, but I could come up with various alternative hypotheses. Are we to also conclude that because the OP now has a profile photo that he has taken the advice of Christopher and that he did not see it at all as a rebuke? Again, I will have to plead ignorance, I am not a mindreader.

There are hosts who request ID at the door, there are hosts who will not leave guests alone in their house, there are hosts who offer no more than 1 night's rest, there are hosts who insist you wear a loincloth and wrestle with another guest of similar weight and height during your stay (I am not kidding). Hosts can make whatever conditions they please, as long as they are clear about them guests can take it or leave it as they see fit, but that is not what Chris was doing, he was merely offering a couple of tips that would increase the member's chances of being hosted for reasons I have already outlined previously.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Hi Juan,

Hi Juan,
sounds like a great trip. I travelled in Europe. In Spain you shouldn't have a language barrier, por que hables español, verdad?
In France on the contrary, it might be difficult. I was surprise about how poorly they spoke English. (Your english is great!) But you will manage. French ppl are friendly and with hand and feet you will understand each other.
The other countries between France and Finland all speak very well English.

I always camped on the way. wild camping is almost everywhere illegal (except Scandinavia, there you're allowed to go wild camping) but I did it anyway. You can easily find a save spot to put up your tent. If you don't make a fire, and you won't litter, and you're a bit hidden, nobody will bother. Make sure your not on private grounds though!
You can also go to a farmer and ask if he allowes you to camp on his field. But always ask, don't just put your tent on private grounds!

To know good roads to take, ask at the tourist office in towns. They will provide you with free maps and can point out some scenic ways to cycle.
The biggest roads in Europe, the highways /motorways are just for cars and motorbikes which can drive about 120 km/h. Slow vehicles like bikes or tractors etc. are NOT allowed on these roads. But it's good indicated and you won't accidentaly end up there ;)

If you have any more questions, feel free to send me a message :) Have fun in europe, it's beautiful :)