Travelling with SERVAS
- You need to register in advance at the SERVAS secretary in Switzerland and order the necessary documentation (at least 4 - 6 weeks befor departure)
- Fill out the Letter of Introduction [61 KB] (LI) that has been sent to you with the documentation
- Fix an appointment for a personal interview. Choose one of the hosts from the list of interviewers that you have received with the documentation
- Pay the required amount and send the receipt – together with the signed LI – to SERVAS Switzerland
- The LI will be authenticated with the stamp and signature of SERVAS Switzerland.
- You will then receive the list of hosts [594 KB] (4 at the most), the authenticated original LI as well as a form for your report
In the case that you’ll be travelling for a longish period, you can exchange the lists by showing your LI. In each list you’ll find the address of the coordinator responsible for the region.
All SERVAS employees work voluntarily. Nevertheless, there are still costs that need to be covered, e.g. printing of host lists, phone calls, postage, office material, etc.
Furthermore, a part of the income is sent on to SERVAS International, in order to foster international contacts and to support the SERVAS representations that are in the process of being planned.
Contribution towards costs for travellers
The annual fee of Fr. 30.-- per host family includes the "Letters of Introduction" (LI) for all members of the host family. LI's are given out upon request only. They are valid for 1 year from the date of delivery. For the lists, a deposit of Fr. 100.-- needs to be paid.
Travelling up to 12 months: Fr. 80.-- per person + Fr. 100.-- deposit
The deposit gives you the right to have a maximum of 4 lists and needs to be paid only once. The deposit will be given back to you only after you’ve sent on the report of the trip as well as all other documents (LI and other lists).
If you don't send back the above mentioned documents until 15 months after the date of delivery of your LI, the deposit will be kept - unless you renew your LI.
- Each host list contains an introduction. Please read it thoroughly. SERVAS takes it for granted that the individual conditions expressed by the hosts in the list are maintained (e.g. written application or over the phone, application deadlines, sleeping bag, etc.). Please take note of the "WMT" (= want more travellers) option, too.
- Please consult the chosen hosts directly. Notwithstanding the enclosed answer note, you cannot always rely on a reply to your written application.
- A couple of days before your arrival, be sure to contact your hosts on the phone in order to confirm your stay and/or to receive an answer to your application.
- Should you be unable to keep to your schedule or should you change your trip, please inform your hosts immediately.
- While planning your trip, consider that you don’t only get to know people and their country in touristic centres. Choose hosts off the beaten track too, they are the ones who get fewer travellers. Check the WMT option.
- Day Hosts are also keen to meet travellers. They cannot offer accommodation in that case, but they might have time for a walk through town or a shared meal.
- SERVAS should in no case be understood as a cheap opportunity for travel. Most hosts invest time in conversation and discussion and expect the same from you!
The following internationally valid SERVAS rules must be kept to absolutely:
- Show the Original Letter of Introduction (LI) immediately upon arrival. A lot of hosts appreciate a copy of it. Hosts are instructed to refuse travellers without a valid LI.
- You are considered a member of the family – do not let others serve you! Just make yourself at home.
- In general, you may stay for two days unless agreed upon otherwise. Do not ask to stay longer and remember that a lot of hosts do not appreciate a «land and run» attitude!
- Full board isn’t obligatory – it often depends on the hosts’ financial situation. Be attentive – you might want to prepare a meal once or help out with some shopping for your host.
- Never use your hosts’ telephone without prior consent and pay for the phone call immediately. This is one of the hosts’ most frequent complaints!
- Most hosts appreciate a small gift. The minimum should be a «thank you» note after your stay.
- After you finish your trip: you must send us a report of your trip together with the whole documentation (all host lists and the Letter of Introduction), otherwise you won’t get your deposit back.