It’s undeniable that the ways of travel have changed a lot in the last few years. A big part of this change is the type of accommodation on offer. Everything started with the B&B’s, followed up by Couchsurfing, and the recent boom of AirBnB. It’s clear that a simple, regular hotel room is not the only choice anymore. Maybe we can call it the “alternative” way of traveling!
I recently discovered another type of accommodation: The Travel House. The Travel House is a new formula of hosting people, started by a not for profit Serbian organization in 2005.
Travel House happens every summer: they basically rent an apartment in a predetermined city and they use it as a base to explore the city and the region. Staying in the house is free for everyone, some basic necessities are often provided such as soap, toilet paper, kitchen tools…etc etc. It’s a place where travellers get to know each other, they share stories, experiences and knowledge. Of course there are some rules to follow.
The big questions now are: who pays the rent? How are guests able to contribute? On their website is a link for a donation (no specific amount requested), and it is appreciated if you leave some other basic stuff in the apartment after you have stayed there, like more detergents and food. Even fixing something that’s broken could be a form of “payment”. As a not for profit organization all the earnings are reinvested in the project.
The goal of the Travel House project is very simple and beautiful: to provide a global meeting point for independent travelers and to build a global travel culture – a culture of solidarity and understanding of this planet we all share.
Travel House has hosted people in: Istanbul, Granada, Tbilisi and Athens and so far has provided accommodation for more than 900 travelers. Check out their site and join the community. In the near future they will publish the next destination and who knows, maybe you’ll become a guest!
We asked our Sofia Spotter Angelina more about this project. She recently stayed in the Travel House in Athens.
1. How did you discover the site?
“I remember that I first stumbled upon the Travel House Project in a FB group called Nomads – free/cheap way of travel.”
2.Why did you decide to try it?
“I liked the idea a lot, it looked like the concept is similar to Couchsurfing and other cultural exchange ways of travel, but at the same time its aim is to build a culture of giving and sharing without expecting something in return. I was curious to see how this really worked.”
3. Could you briefly describe the experience?
“For me staying in the Travel house feels like home away from home. The idea is not to feel like a guest but to do the normal things you do at home – you can cook, clean when it’s needed, fix when something is broken. On the other hand you share all these things with a mix of people from different cultures, you learn different skills from each other and share your stories. You also learn a lot about the local culture because local people also get involved in the project. They try to introduce you to their customs and history. For example in the travel house in Athens there were young Greek volunteers giving lessons in Greek, organising walks around the city and cooking Greek dinner twice a week.”
4. What is the thing you liked the most, and what did you like the least about Travel House?
“The best thing is that The travel house combines both experiencing the local culture and broadening your horizons with meeting people from every part of the world. The only negative side, even though this is something the Travel House couldn’t be blamed for, is that some people don’t get the idea and think it is just a free place to sleep.”
5. Do you think you will consider Travel House for your next trip?
“For sure, I’m already looking forward to seeing where the next house will be located. Even if that place is not in my plans I would consider going just for the experience you get. I also try to spread the word and recommend it to all my friends.”
6. Do you think this is the future of independent travelers?
“I really believe it is, and even more, I would say it needs to be. We live in a time when independent traveling is becoming more and more popular and that’s great, as long as we take our impact on the world into consideration and travel responsibly. And that’s exactly what projects like The travel house aim to achieve.”
I hope that the project will keep growing and that… well I’d love to think that everyone will understand the concept. The majority of guests will hopefully see the Travel House as not just a place where you can sleep and leave your belongings, but as a place where you get in touch with many cultures, and be a part of an amazing project.