We would like to introduce you to some of our volunteers. Every one of them decided at one point to spend a little bit of time to help BeWelcome, making this the greatest non-profit, volunteer driven hospitality network out there!
Why did you join BeWelcome?
Like most people, probably, I joined by accident. I first started hosting back in the mists of time, using a website – really little more than a bulletin board – called Travelhoo. When that disappeared, I found Couchsurfing. When CS began to change, a guest told me about BeWelcome and I thought I would give it a try. I am still a member of CS but prefer it here. Sometimes BW is a bit ‘clunky’ because everything is done by volunteers, but I find this more honest than being slick, commercial and soulless.
Why did you start volunteering? and in which teams are you active?
I have been part of the team of Forum Moderators since 2013. I was ‘blackmailed’ into it by one of the then moderators, using a combination of guilt (You don’t want to be a freeloader, do you?) flattery (We need YOU) and puppy-dog eyes.
The mod team is not always popular – no-one likes being told to change their post – but, like football referees, they are necessary. The team does its best to ensure that the BW Forum is a welcoming place, where different opinions are tolerated – and that means valuing differences of opinion within the mod team itself. Often decisions are not clear-cut, so they need to be discussed and debated amongst the mods, which produces a real sense of being part of a team.
What kind of traveller are you?
I guess I am mostly a ‘holiday’ traveller, but I do like feeling some connection with the places I visit and trying to understand what it is like to live there. This is also one of the reasons that I host, as hosting brings the people and places to me.
How many countries have you visited? What is your favourite country or place?
I grew up in Liverpool (which, as all good scousers will tell you, is a ‘country’ of its own) and I live in Scotland. I tried to count up and I think I have visited 24 countries, though most of them are in Europe. I am not sure that I have a favourite but Andalucia was my first experience of being abroad and still has a special place in my memories.
What is your favourite / coolest BeWelcome experience?
Being given a jar of marmite for my birthday, at the BV Assembly in Düsseldorf.
Because marmite is cool, isn’t it?
Bald geht es los und ich freue mich sehr auf alle Menschen und vor allem Gastgeber, die ich kennen lernen werde =)
Dear Bewelcome members I ma organizing a solidarity event on lake Baikal connecting workshop about local and real native shamanism and support to orphans in Siberia, The group, for the moment I have 10 women and i have 3 more free possibility, will arrive in Ulan-Ude on the 4th of August and leave on 16th.
You can see some something here www.spmir.org/workshop
we help the orphans here www.spmir.org
if you could be interested just drop me a line on Bewelcome. Thank you. Stefano
On the 20th, 21st and 22nd of May, BeWelcome members have gathered in Toulouse to party for the so-called Fête du canard (Duck Fest). You could hear the quack-quacks all the weekend long! Locals and travelers have shared amazing moments around different activities. The local community is waiting for you next year to enjoy again these good times!
More pictures can be found here
As the “gap year” becomes more the norm than the exception, deciding where to travel to can be as difficult as deciding your major. It’s not surprising that for many American and British travelers, Australia seems to be the place to go. There are many reasons, but it seems to be primarily because it offers a significant amount of exploration and adventure, minus the language barriers and culture shock that come with many exotic destinations. Australia is a fantastic place for your first trip abroad, and will allow you to experience the ins and outs of international travel, without running into too many problems. We’ve put together some useful information to help you get started on your gap year in Australia.
Do your homework before you travel. Make sure that you have contacted the State Department to ensure that you have all of the travel advisories, and that you’ve passed any health requirements. Make sure that you’ve also looked into customs – one of the most difficult things to take with you can be prescription meds, so make sure you make any adjustments if necessary. Make sure that your visa is in order and that it covers your needs. Find out ahead of time what work or volunteer experience you might be looking to put on your resume, and make sure that you meet all requirements.
You aren’t going to want to try and pack everything you’ll need for the entire year. If you’re backpacking, you don’t want to lug it all over the continent with you anyway. Australia is full of shops and there is literally nothing that you might need that you won’t be able to find. To make things easier, pack for a two-week trip, and budget plenty of money for buying additional clothing, footwear, and outerwear as needed. It will make your flight, arrival, and initial adjustment period much simpler if you aren’t trying to drag 3 suitcases with you everywhere you go. Remember that you’re in a different hemisphere though, and pack for the season you’re headed to.
Everything in Australia is more expensive – and you’re likely to run short of funds much sooner than you’re expecting. Make sure that you have given yourself plenty of cushion, and that you’ve considered your leisure time as well. Everyone budgets for travel expenses, food, and shelter, but many people wind up running short of cash when it comes down to grabbing a drink with friends, or a bus fare to a side trip. Remember that if you’re here for an extended time, you can try to get to the highlights of the trip during off-peak seasons, which may save you money on travel expenses and lodging. Have an idea in mind for how much money you need to get home, and know when you’re getting close to that number, and be ready to leave early if you need to. In addition, you may find yourself seeking income opportunities, in order to help fill in some of your discretionary spending or to help extend your trip if you’re having a blast.
So you were planning a week long camping trip but the forecast is telling you that it’s going to rain for the next 5 days? Make sure you’ve built some give into your itinerary for these kinds of unforeseen events. While it might initially feel reassuring to have all of your travel plans, hotel rooms, and tickets booked in advance, you may wind up losing out on the experiences- and money- if you have to change your plans suddenly. Make use of websites like Stayz or other apps to find last-minute lodging deals, rather than having to cancel or change plans frequently. It’s probably a good idea to make arrangements for your first few days after arrival, but unless you’re headed to a stable job, you’ll do better to take things as they come.
Make Friends with Some Locals
It can be really easy to fall in step with some other expats you ran into at a hostel, but you’re really going to miss out on a lot of experience if you keep to a group like this. You’re here to explore and broaden your horizons, so why on earth would you stick to a familiar group. By all means, be friendly with them, but make sure you are venturing out of your comfort zone a bit. Locals will also have all the best tips for things to do and places to eat that are off the typical tourist track.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goals
Remember why you decided to do this in the first place. It’s easy to fall into the same habits that you were in at home, sticking to one place and establishing a routine, but that’s not what you’re here for. You can do that at home. You’re here to gain your independence, learn a few things about yourself, make friends and memorable experiences, and return with a new perspective. Don’t be the person who gets halfway through their year only to find out that you’ve settled in a big city that’s a lot like home, and that you’re doing the exact same things you normally do. Keep a journal or some other way of reminding yourself what you are here for. It can be as simple as asking yourself what you learned today every night before you turn in. You may find that as you discover more about yourself, your perspective and your goals change, but make sure you’re making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.