Would you like to have an authentic travel experience, save some money and make long lasting friendships? Couchsurfing might be great for you. Couchsurfing is a community of travelers for travelers who offer free accommodation to those looking for a free place to stay and looking to connect with locals. There is currently a worldwide community of more than 10 million in 200,000 cities! Couchsurfing is primarily about fostering meaningful connections and cultural exchange. This blog post is Couchsurfing 101.
Who is it for?
Couchsurfing is for friendly people who are looking to make real connections with locals. If you are not a “people person” this isn’t the community for you. Couchsurfing is not a platform to use people for free accommodation. In this community there are people of all ages. Typically younger people make up most of the travelers but young and old are both hosting and being hosted.
It’s expected that you are looking to spend time with your host. Share your travel experiences and tell stories. You are of course expected to be courteous and to follow the host’s rules if there are any. If something comes up like you can’t make it or you’ll be late, it’s important to keep in mind that someone is setting aside time and space to accommodate you.
OK, this part isn’t expected but maybe offer your host a small gift, anything to show your gratitude. Take a bottle of wine for dinner. Why not make them dinner? It doesn’t have to be stressful, but a nice gesture goes a long way. It’s a good idea to give back something in return for their generosity.
Related article: Why Couchsurfing is free is a myth
There are tons of benefits that come with being part of the Couchsurfing community. Here are a few:
- Free accommodation of course.
- there are local Couchsurfers who are willing to show you around, even if you’re not looking for a place to stay. You may essentially have free tour guides all over the world, ideal for an authentic experience.
- Easily connect with other travelers online and in person.
- Attend local events anywhere in the world, including your hometown. This is a great way to get references from reputable Couchsurfers.
- The opportunity to make friends anywhere in the world.
How to get hosted
- Make your profile appealing. The more information you have on it the better. Share information about yourself. People want to know who your are before inviting you into their home. Put effort into your bio and give people an idea of what you’re like.
- Write a good request. Anyone can tell if you’re just copying and pasting the same request to everyone. Hosts want to know if you’ve taken the time to read their profile. You must demonstrate your commitment to engaging with the host in a meaningful way. Let your potential host know why you want to meet them.
- Be friendly and transparent when you send requests. My friend and I had no experience with Couchsurfing and we had no references. In our requests we mentioned that we were cycling down the east coast and that we were looking for a place to stay. We knew we had nothing to work with but we were friendly and put effort into our profile. A few of our requests were accepted but we were only able to stay with one host due to scheduling and stuff. I’m sure that our cool trip cycling from Maine to Florida had something to do with getting approved as well (of course).
- Get references. If there is someone in the community who has been around for some time and can vouch for you, that would put you in a better position to be hosted. The more references you have the better.
- Consider becoming a verified member. This takes another step in confirming who you are.
- Consider hosting first. Who wouldn’t want to host anyone who has hosted others?
Couchsurfing has a safety team that you can contact and they offer safety tips on their safety page. The Community is relatively safe but you can never drop your guard entirely. When you’re in the community you should:
- Review profiles and references carefully.
- Trust your instincts.
- Have a backup plan.
- Communicate only through Couchsurfing.com
- Inform yourself about the local culture.
- Not put yourself in a situation where you’ll need to depend on others for your safety (eg. under the influence).
- Leave references.
- Report negative experiences.
See their safety page for more information http://www.couchsurfing.com/about/safety/
Couchsurfing is definitely one of the best things you can do while traveling anywhere in the world. There are hosts in every country just waiting to show you around and make a connection with you. What better way to see a new place than through the eyes of a local? Remember it’s not just about looking for a free place to stay, it’s about community and exchange. Now that you know what Couchsurfing is all about and it sounds cool to you, get out there and make new friends!
Does Couchsurfing sound like something you’d like to be a part of? What should I write about next?
Leave a comment, please share and subscribe below to be notified of future content and get exclusives.
For travel resources and travel items see my resources page
If you make a purchase through one of my links I get a small commission out of it. There are no additional costs for any transactions done through my links. If you would like to support me this is the way to do it.