How do I become a Servas traveler?
How long does the application process take?
The traveler registration process usually takes about three weeks. To join as a traveler for the first time, you will need to meet with a local volunteer interviewer and provide two letters of reference. All the forms and information you need are available through this Website. If the interviewer believes your travel plans and goals are compatible with Servas, s/he will approve your Letter of Introduction and send the materials to the California office. Upon receipt, the office will validate your Letter of Introduction and send back the original to you, along with any host lists you requested. Lists will be sent by first class mail, though travelers may request express delivery for an additional charge. Sample Timeline
Why do I need an interview and letters of recommendation?
The interview process is an integral part of Servas membership and it’s one of the ways in which Servas is completely unique. We ask that all new members go through an in-person interview with an experienced Servas volunteer in their local area. The interview not only ensures that all Servas members are safe and vetted, but also that they understand and are enthusiastic about 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.
Letters of recommendation are often required by the interviewer, especially if you have never met your interviewer before. However, this isn’t a professional letter of recommendation: it should be 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 and/or a welcoming host. You are not required to use our sample letter of recommendation form, but if you’d like to, you can download it here: Letter of recommendation Form
Travelers will also need to complete a renewal interview after their first year of Servas travel, and Servas members whose travel and/or host membership has lapsed for more than three years are also asked to complete a “touchbase” interview to get reaquainted with new policies and procedures. These interviews can be over the phone or in person.
What are the responsibilities of a Servas traveler?
Traveler responsibilities are outlined here.
Can I sign up outside of my home country?
Signing up as a traveler outside of your country of residence is possible in some cases. Travelers should keep in mind that application procedures, policies, fees and deposits vary from country to country, and special problems such as language barriers and logistics tend to slow things down. Travelers are advised to sign up in their country of residence and to request all the host lists they might need before they begin their trip.
Can families travel together with Servas?
Servas feels it is important for families of the world to meet each other in their own homes and encourages this by allowing children 17 years and younger to travel free with their parents. In the host lists for the US and some other countries, two codes are used to indicate that families are especially welcome: fam (families are welcome for two days and nights) and FAM (families are welcome for two or more nights and may inquire about possibly longer stays). Remember that hosts in many countries do not have large homes and cannot afford to feed many guests. If you travel with several children, you may want to consider day visits with the host, perhaps even taking him or her out to lunch.
What if I lose my Letter of Introduction?
Copies of all US approved Letters of Introduction are kept on file for just such an emergency. Simply contact the office and we will fax or mail a duplicate along with an official letter verifying your membership to a potential host.
How long are Servas Homestays?
Visits are generally three days and two nights and may be extended only with the express invitation of the host and with arrangements that are mutually acceptable. Hosts offering to extend a homestay beyond the two-night minimum will annotate their host listing with the EVP code, meaning “Extended Visit Possible.” Appearance of these codes is sometimes followed by a description of the upper limit for an extended stay, such as “two people or a couple for up to a week” (i. e. 2P/C:1w).
How can I be sure it is safe to stay with the hosts listed?
All Servas hosts have been personally screened and approved by an experienced representative of the national secretary of their country. Hosts must renew their membership annually and keep their information updated in the interim. Each renewal is subject to having no unresolved or unfavorable reports on file. Travelers are encouraged to report any serious problems they may have encountered on a Servas visit.
How do I request and use host lists?
To request host lists, you must have a current traveler membership and a valid Letter of Introduction (LoI).
After logging into your online US Servas account, click “ACCOUNT” or your username in the upper right corner of the screen.
You will be taken to your account homepage where you will see an orange link that says “request host list.”
You must be signed in to your account to access this page.
Servas hosts live throughout the world in urban centers and in the countryside. In fact, we encourage travelers to visit out-of-the-way hosts because they usually have more time and space to devote to Servas visitors and often do not receive as many visits as their fellow hosts in major cities. To see where we have Servas hosts and how many, please review our Host List Statistics sheet which also indicates the year in which the host list or supplement was last published. Travelers usually borrow up to five lists at a time, but if you are planning an extended trip, you may borrow up to ten or even fifteen lists. Lists are only for approved Servas members and to be used only for their intended purpose. You will doubtless meet many fellow travelers who are interested in the Servas concept and feel free to offer them the telephone number of a local Servas representative, but do not share the contact information of other Servas members. Misuse of Servas hosts lists is ground for immediate termination of membership and possible litigation.
What services are offered for people with disabilities?
Servas welcomes the physically challenged traveler. More than half of all US hosts have noted they can accommodate travelers with one or more of the following disabilities: hearing impairment (H), vision impairment (V), various levels of mobility impairment (M), wheelchair users (W), and guide dogs (D). 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.
Are there other ways to build peace while traveling with Servas?
There are countless opportunities to contribute to the greater social good while on the road, many of which are listed in the Servas host lists and in the Related Links section of this Website. Participating in local volunteer efforts can enhance your Servas experience while at the same time promoting peace and social justice on a larger scale.
What assistance is available to Servas travelers on the road?
There is a designated coordinator for every country where there are Servas hosts. A list of international coordinators is available to members through the US Servas office. 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.