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Advice For Traveling Alone Or With Others

By: Sandra Smith

Servas is an international network of hosts and travelers. These generous folks open their homes to fellow Servas members and staying with them has enriched my life.

As a retired teacher I wander the world living in different places. Meeting people makes a place special for me. Servas membership has made that easier.

After being interviewed and receiving my letter of introduction, I was off to meet some new friends. I got a book from the Servas office with names, interests and contact information for my trip.

Fred and Mary prepared a dinner for a German friend and me. They introduced us to a Mexican-American family and took me to my train. We have maintained email contact about fabrics and politics.

Jean and I ate at a local Italian place she likes and I explored Los Angeles' west side from her home base. Heather and I enjoyed a Persian restaurant and Barbara took me to Los Angeles' Central Market.

Often the hosts are busy during the day and can direct you to sightseeing on your own. Sharing experiences they have had hosting and traveling seems to provide an endless stream of conversation.

In Kyoto Japan I spent a memorable day feeding koi in the park Miep. She is the 4 yr. old daughter of my host, Sho. Meeting Sho and Miep and being permitted to glimpse their daily life was far more exciting for me than visiting another museum or temple.

Servas guests join in daily activities of the household also. On this trip I helped build a compost bin, planted flowers, cooked and introduced my hosts to a new chai tea recipe.

While in Waikiki Barbara, a day host, picked me up for an afternoon of snorkeling. She also had room in her car for two of my roommates from the hostel. The four of us, two Americans, one from France and the other from Norway, enjoyed the beach and conversing with each other. Toward sunset our host shared her favorite scenic overlook with us. Sharing that view of the valley, Diamond Head, the silvery sea, is a moment shared and carried off in several directions.

Servas participation is not for everyone. It can be challenging to find the homes in a strange city and you must want the personal exchange. If those are for you, Servas might be also.

You can become a member of Servas by simply contacting them for more information.

U.S. Servas
1125 - 16th St. Suite 201
Arcata, CA 95521-5585
Phone: 707 825-1714

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