Organizations come and go that arrange for you to stay free-of-charge in someone else’s home or apartment in the course of your travels. The latest leaders in this effort are Couchsurfing.com and Globalfreeloaders.com, which are sometimes criticized as having grown too large to be effective.
But another such organization—USServas.org—is older by far and careful to hand-pick both hosts and guests, thus insuring a more pleasant experience. Servas will enjoy its 70th anniversary this year.
It was formed in 1948 by a number of peace advocates who felt that the elimination of war between nations could be more effectively brought about if large numbers of people enjoyed free-of-charge stays in the homes of other world citizens, and thus came to know them.
The point of Servas is not mainly to supply a free stay but to cause participants to interact peacefully with other persons and learn something of their lives.
To restrict Servas to the right sort of open-minded, intellectually curious person, applicants for Servas must undergo a personal interview conducted by one of the many Servas members in America. Applicants must also submit two letters of introduction.
Once chosen, they can then travel all over the world, staying for free for two nights at a time, in the residences of other members. These other members make a point of introducing the guest to their life, their work, and their community activities.
There are Servas organizations in more than a hundred nations (the U.S. website is found at USServas.org). There are more than 100,000 Servas hosts throughout the world.
Quietly but effectively, Servas members play their part in advancing world peace. It you are willing to perform the many steps of proving your bona fides, you simply can’t enjoy a better form of travel.