Couchsurfing is a great way to travel and see the world on a budget. Plus, you get a local perspective.
What is Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing is a social travel platform that allows travelers to stay with hosts in the place they are traveling to.
A traveler will log on, search the location, and add any filters they would like such as the gender of the host.
As a female traveler and host, I only stay with and accept females as a safety measure. It is a stranger after all.
But I know people who stay with the opposite gender and have had no problem. I have also had male friends who have stayed with male hosts and have run into an adventure or two if I can say it like that.
However, that is totally up to you!
There is also another filter to not stay with couples. There are couples on Couchsurfing who open their homes to travelers in order to meet new people and just be nice to travelers. Some might not like this.
The goal is for everyone is to feel safe and comfortable- host or traveler.
Each traveler’s and host’s profile has reviews of past interactions along with other biographical information that the person wants to share. Hosts can also add information regarding where the person will sleep.
This is a free site meaning there are no membership fees to use. It is also made aware that payment for your housing is not allowed in money.
However, paying for your host’s beer or bringing them some treats from your home country is appreciated!
Here are some tips that I have learned about Couchsurfing that have made my experience more positive.
5 Tips For CouchSurfing Travelers
Make sure to read the profile of your host
In very popular cities, hosts are flooded with requests for a place to stay. In order to filter through all the requests, they have a special keyword in their profile.
For example, “In your request, please write ‘rainbow.’” As a host, I have received messages where it was clearly a copy and paste. For example, I was sent a message telling me how excited he would be to meet me and my husband.
I was not married and had no mention of any significant partner on my profile.
I took it with a grain of salt as I knew he was just looking for a place to stay. But I was still a bit annoyed because I believed my profile was simple and clear enough.
Make sure to interact with your host
Since it is a free stay, a nice reciprocation along with a small treat is just to simply talk with your host.
Grab coffee or drink a beer together and share travel stories. This platform encourages users to do just that.
You can use it just to meet and not stay
You don’t have to sleep at that person’s place if you don’t want to! Many just want to meet for a drink or a walk around the city.
That is totally doable! I have met many for a meal, a tour of the city, or a drink.
They didn’t want a place to stay, but all they wanted was to meet a local.
Write a personalized request
Yes, there might be those keywords, but your request has a higher chance of being accepted if you mention something about their profile or interests.
Maybe you share the same interests? Comment on that, or even ask them questions about their city.
You are under no obligation to stay
If you end up not feeling safe, you are under no obligation to stay the rest of your planned trip. You can always go to another host or a hostel.
5 Tips For CouchSurfing Hosts
Realize that the travelers are there to see your city
I know many hosts get upset that their guests don’t want to spend every minute with them.
Yes, Couchsurfing encourages interactions and sharing stories and experiences, but it is also meant for travel.
Schedule time with them for dinner for coffee, but don’t expect it to be all the time.
Accept what your living space is
In order to get guests, sometimes hosts misinform travelers what their living space can accommodate.
Meaning, hosts might write that there is a spare bed, but in fact, it is just the couch. Or it is a small apartment that can barely fit one person and yet the host is hosting two more.
It is okay if the living situation is small or not ideal for hosting, but make sure it is clearly identified on your profile.
You don’t have to host
If you just want to meet people, but don’t have the room or don’t want people in your home, you can.
Simply mark your profile as up for meeting. You can also reach out to other hosts to meet up as well.
Sometimes, individuals hold gatherings for local hosts and passing travelers to meet at a bar or restaurant.
Don’t have words hidden in your profile
In my tips for travelers, I mentioned that hosts might have hidden words to make sure you have read their profile.
I understand it makes their filtering process easier, but as a traveler and then a host myself, I found it rather annoying.
For my profile, I put some fun facts about myself- 5 to 6 sentences maybe more.
I can tell when I receive a generic message that it is copy and paste and I respond.
However, whenever I did receive a message that was personalized with questions or comments on my interests, it made me feel special and perhaps we would get along in person as well.
Respond to all messages
It is always annoying when people don’t return messages.
I understand life gets busy and notifications don’t always work, but it was nice when I received a message letting me know they can’t host me. Just so I know.
This article was contributed by Marinella Yule of myopenpassport.net travel blog.
She has traveled throughout North America by car, plane, and bicycle, and to over 40 countries.
She is currently working on improving her third language (French) and sometimes writes blogs in Spanish as well.
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