Servas: A Special Way to Travel
I love to travel and really enjoy meeting and getting to know
people who are interested in making the world a better place.
I also don't like to travel alone and sometimes find that my
travelling companions can't join me for the entire month or
whatever length the trip is. Fortunately, a bit over a year
ago I discovered and became a host and traveller with Servas.
I think that many TVSers would also find very interesting this
non-profit, non-governmental, interracial, interfaith group dedicated
to building world peace one friendship at a time. It was established
by American students in Denmark in 1948 who, after all of the destruction
of the World Wars, thought there had to be a better way to build peace.
One can become a host, traveler, or both. As a traveler, you contact
hosts (in over 120 countries and all over the U.S.) and make arrangements
ideally to spend two nights with them. You must first understand the goals
of Servas and be accepted by a local Servas interviewer (contact US
Servas, as below).
The traveler should have flexible plans to be able to spend time getting
to know the host family, and the experience should involve some level
of cultural exchange and sharing of ideas and experiences. Hosts can
accept or reject any request ("great, we'll even pick you up from the
airport!", "sure, can you come in time for dinner?", "too many this year",
"bad time") and, though they're encouraged to provide at least breakfast
and ideally other meals, aren't obliged to.
Some (often students) are day hosts who can enthusiastically show
a traveler around or arrange for interesting activities, but may
not have lodging.
No money, except for long
distance calls, is exchanged, but the traveler needs to present a
letter of introduction.
Servas is a unique, lovely way to meet people who can very well turn out
to be lifelong friends. My first Servas visit felt more like visiting
family than friends! Vegetarians who live in
support of world peace issues like environmental preservation and
an ethic of kindness and compassion will find a world of kindred
spirits in Servas!
For further information, contact
US Servas, Inc., 11 John Street, Suite 407, NYC 10038,
(212)267-0252. Ask me about my rewarding experiences and
the very kind and giving people I have met!
Another related organization that I just found out about
is The Hospitality Exchange (P.O. Box 561, Lewistown, Montana,
59457, 406-538-8770, email@example.com,
If you join ($20/year), you are listed in their directory and can contact
any other member to arrange a stay. They have been around since 1965
and have members in 31 states and 21 countries.
Dec. 1999 update: I continue to feel that Servas is one of the
best discoveries I've made in the past few years. I have had interesting
guests and visited wonderful hosts in places like Hawaii, Arizona,
California, Chicago, and New Orleans. For the past few years
I am now also an interviewer, so you can contact me
if you would like an interview. U.S. Servas can now be found on the web
at www.servas.org and also be reached
by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.