Traveller Guidelines

Preparing for Your Trip

  • Plan ahead; organize your itinerary as far ahead and as completely as possible.
  • Be flexible and patient; plans change.
  • Know what to do and whom to contact in emergencies.
  • Purchase trip cancellation insurance.
  • Try not to stay just in major urban centres or tourist areas. Hosts in these areas are often overwhelmed with travellers while more remote hosts may want more.
  • Do not expect to be hosted by Servas through your entire trip. Vary your accommodation.
  • Do not send mass emails to many different hosts for the same time period. If you get favourable responses from more than one host for the same time, notify immediately those hosts you will not be staying with.
  • If you can’t find a host, the local host coordinator may be able to help.
  • Respect the host list details for each host you contact (e.g., no smoking).
  • Respect the host’s right to say no.
  • If leaving a voicemail on the host’s phone, speak very slowly and clearly. Call details should include your name and a phone number where you can be reached.
  • If you are not using ServasOnline, send your authorized Letter of Introduction (LOI) as an attachment in your first email enquiry to potential Servas hosts as soon as you have an idea of your itinerary.
  • Put ͞Servas͟ somewhere in the email subject line so hosts know it is not spam.
  • Inform hosts about any medical conditions, disabilities, or allergies that could affect your visit.
  • Continue dialogue with your host until arrival dates and times are confirmed.
  • Consider carrying a sleeping bag or sleeping sheet.
  • All host and traveller contact information is confidential and to be used for Servas business only.

On the Road

  • It is your responsibility to meet with the host as close to the agreed-to arrival time as possible.
  • Never arrive at a host’s home without contacting them first.
  • If you decide not to stay with a host that you have made prior arrangements with, contact that host to cancel.
  • Try not to contact your host before 9am or after 9pm.

Staying with Hosts

  • Show your authorized LOI upon arrival before being asked.
  • Expect to stay with your Servas host for a maximum of two days and two nights. Do not ask your host to stay longer, but you may stay longerif sincerely invited by your host.
  • If you only plan to stay one night, discuss this option with your host when making arrangements.
  • Hospitality may be basic: maybe a private bathroom, maybe not. If you have specific needs (e.g., soft bed, no stairs, food restrictions) discuss them with your host before arriving.
  • In most cases, breakfast will be provided and usually other meals, but don’t expect it.
  • In some families, both adults work, so breakfast may be quick during the week.
  • Hosts may want you out of the house when they are not home; ask.
  • Some hosts may tell you about local places, have time to show you around, or arrange for you to meet people, but don’t expect it.
  • No money should change hands for your accommodation, but consider offering to cook a meal, paying for dinner out, or sharing costs for sightseeing, etc.
  • Ask before using the telephone, computer, or wifi access.
  • Note that accepted practices and environmental conditions vary, so ask before showering or washing clothes.
  • Be considerate—you are in a person’s home. Clean up after yourself, and offer to help.
  • If you are travelling with a person to whom you are not married, accept the sleeping arrangements provided by your host.
  • Do not bring anyone who is not an approved Servas traveller to a Servas host.
  • Day hosts do not host travellers overnight. They may be able to meet you or show you local sites.

After Your Visit

  • Write a thank-you note to each host.
  • If desired, keep in touch with hosts.
  • Share your travel stories on the Servas Canada website.
  • Consider getting more involved with Servas! Check out volunteer opportunities.

Remember:

  • The goal of Servas hospitality is to create shared cultural learning experiences.
  • Be prepared to offer details about your country and background while hearing about local culture, family, and community life.
  • Servas is a volunteer organization. Travellers pay a fee to join Servas; money that covers administrative and operational costs. Travellers are expected to pay their own expenses.
  • If a Servas host upsets you, expresses views that you believe are contrary to Servas ideals, or seems to abuse the Servas opportunity, please discuss the circumstance with the host, remembering that sometimes there are cultural or language misunderstandings; be patient. If the issue cannot be resolved, contact the local host coordinator.