I belong to three internet travellers communities: hospitalityclub (since 2007), couchsurfing and warmshowers (since previous year; this one is for tour bicycle users).
I admit that I joined the first one because I’d read in press about it and was tempted by opportunity of saving some cost of accommodation while travelling. So I joined and tried and it worked! In 2007 my family travelled to Romania and Bulgaria for summer 3-week holidays. Of all 20 nights we didn’t pay for 4 thanks to our great hospitalityclub hosts. But saving money was only a tiny part of what membership was offering and as it later turned out it was the least important part! The best of it was meeting locals who generally shares with you their local style of life: habits, food, ways of spending time, lots of information about interesting places/events in area (sometimes they tell you about things you won’t be able to find about in tourist guides) etc, etc. And what I do appreciate – while I travel abroad I have eventually opportunity to use English, here in Poland my contact with English is generally confined to reading and watching tv/films (and sometimes writing blog, haha). The hosts/guests are usually fantastic, open, amiable people, to that extend that in 2 cases my hosts/guests became later my guests/hosts: in England, Slovenia and Poland.
Being a guest is great but of course there is a second side – offering accomadation for other travelers. And it is also superb. Imagine situation like that one – grey, not much interesting March day in Poland, the rest of snow melted long ago, but still no fresh greenery outside the window… You’re a bit bored and check your emails and … wow, a girl from Canada travelling since August 2014 through Asia and since January 2015 by bicycle (!!!) from Instanbul, Turkey to my hometown Rzeszów, Poland (some 2.000 kilometres through the shortest way from Istanbul) and further in Europe is asking if she can stay at your place for 1 night. You of course agree, she arrives to your town and tells you about adventures you wouldn’t hear or watch in travel programmes on tv. It was a big big pleasure to meet Stephanie and talk with her about her brave ride through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Poland on bicycle with heavy panniers. And to listen about wonderful unspoiled nature of Canada … Such visits make your day. I wish Stephanie only dry, warm days during her further bicycle travelling, much less trucks on roads and save pedalling, and you – great adventures while travelling and while meeting travelers at your home.