Frequently Asked Questions
Servas is an Esperanto word meaning “to serve.”
Servas is a global, volunteer-driven hosting organization. We facilitate connections between travelers and hosts around the world. As a member, you can be a host, a traveler, or both. What makes us special is our foundation as a peace-based organization and our emphasis on building connections with people around the world through travel. It takes a little more effort to join, but the benefits will last a lifetime.
The annual membership donation for US Servas is $33 per year.
Membership in Servas includes being part of a global organization that belives in peace and understanding through travel and hosting. There are over 15,000 members in over 100 countries supporting this idea of peace. There are local, national, and international activities, plus members host each other to better understand different cultures.
The member application process usually takes from one to three weeks. To join for the first time, you will meet with a Servas volunteer interviewer and provide two letters of reference. The interview can be inperson or remote. Upon successful completion of the interview, a volunteer will create your account on the Servas International (Servas.org) website.
The interview process is an integral part of Servas membership and it’s one of the ways in which Servas is completely unique. It ensures that all Servas members understand and support our mission of peace through understanding and cultural exchange. The interview also functions as an orientation to Servas; your interviewer will explain the processes and expectations of travel and hosting with Servas, and how to use the Servas.org website to connect with hosts and travelers.
A letter of recommendation is written by someone who knows you well (a partner, relative, friend, neighbor, coworker, etc.) and can attest that you would be a respectful guest in a stranger’s home or a welcoming host. Your interviewer can provide you with a letter of recommendation form, but you are not required to use it.
Foreign nationals will ideally join Servas through their home countries. However, anyone who is a US resident for a significant period of time may join US Servas. When they return to their home country, their Servas membership can be transferred. US citizens living or traveling abroad may join US Servas via remote interview. Membership in the Servas organization of the country of residence is governed by that country’s rules.
Hosts post profiles on the Servas.org website that describe themselves, their household and their community. Travelers search those profiles for hosts with common interests, and contact them to request a visit. Hosts use the Servas.org website to verify the traveler’s identity.
Servas visits are usually two nights (three days). In some cases, hosts may invite travelers to stay longer, which is acceptable, but travelers should never ask to stay longer.
Yes! Servas is a great way for families to travel and an excellent way to engage children in various cultures. Search for “Children in household” and “Family Welcome” in Servas.org.
You must be 18 years of age or older to travel independently with Servas.
As with any travel, Servas cannot guarantee safety, but with Servas you know that your prospective hosts or guests have undergone an extensive conversation, reference checking procedure, and orientation. Although extremely rare, Hosts and Travelers are encouraged to report any serious problems they encounter on a Servas visit. A complaints process is in place to investigate and document these reports. Each Host and Traveler renewal is subject to having no unresolved or unfavorable reports on file.
No. All Servas travelers must have an approved Letter of Introduction (LOI) valid for the period of travel.
Servas welcomes the physically challenged traveler. Search for "Wheelchair Accessible" when you are looking for hosts in Servas.org. Some hosts can also provide transportation to Servas visitors upon request. Travelers are encouraged to discuss in advance with their hosts any special needs, including dietary restrictions.
No. If it is not a convenient time for the host to welcome a traveler, the host can decline the traveler's request. On the other hand, as Servas promotes trust, tolerance, and respect, a host should not decline a request on the basis of race, nationality, language, age, religion, or sexual orientation.
No, not unless you choose. However, you are expected to spend time with guests, getting to know them and sharing information about your respective countries, cultures, etc. Remember – the goal of Servas is to promote peace and cross-cultural understanding.
There is a designated coordinator for every country where there are Servas hosts. A list of international coordinators is available to members in Servas.org. In the US, we have area representatives and host coordinators for each state. Part of their job is to help match travelers and hosts when members encounter difficulty contacting hosts.