For those who have never heard the term “CouchSurfing,” it is a company and a website that provide opportunities for travelers to stay at a guest’s home, meet other travelers, participate in events, and host travelers. The main company that started it all is CouchSurfing International Inc., who operates their website couchsurfing.com. It is considered a hospitality-type service and also a social networking site because you can meet new people in different cities and even countries as you spend time with different hosts and guest homes along the way. The accommodations are short-term and less inexpensive than staying in hotels, which many travelers are keen on so they can keep traveling.
How to Start CouchSurfing
Interested participants can head to their website to start their profile information. This profile section shows who you are, what you are interested in, what’s important to you and what your mission may be while traveling. You can designate if you are traveling and would like to stay with a host or if you would like to be a host and have a guests or guests stay temporarily with you. You will be asked to upload photos of yourself so hosts can see who you are. Make sure to keep your photos updated and appropriate for the best host results and opportunities to become available to you. This profile page is a reflection of you as a traveler or as a host, and people want to see a responsible adult. Please note that complete profiles with details and effort get many more responses than vague and outdated profiles.
Getting verified on the website is not a must, but it will help your cause, especially if you are serious about traveling. There are different levels of verification on the CouchSurfing website. You can be verified by other members, by your mailing address, or with a credit card if you provide one. Verification is another way of showing that you are a responsible and real person, not a scammer or someone looking to cause trouble. It eases the minds of potential hosts and other travelers if you get verified.
Now that you have a (verified) profile, it is time to start surfing! Where are you traveling to? Search for the city you are visiting, and hosts in the area that have space and accommodations for you will appear. We recommend you to send out at least five requests in the area and not to rely on a single host or request that you have sent to them. If you find another host, you can let the others know that you have found one and thank them for their time. Many hosts realize that travelers email multiple hosts to make sure they can get a place to stay. Also, look for hosts that have been recently active. Those that have not been active in the last month or so probably won’t respond.
When you find a host that you like and have carefully looked over their profile, it is time to send a personalized email to them with your dates that you will be in the area and details! Details are important because you are more likely to get a response than sending a generic email with little to no information about yourself. If you state that you are just looking for a free place to stay, it will not work, and it chases off hosts. Explain what you may have in common (based on their profile) and why you would be a good guest and why you chose them. It is more than just finding a free place to stay; it is about meeting people and the overall experience of traveling which attracts more hosts!
Couch Guest Etiquette
Have you found a host that will give a place to sleep for a few nights? Then congratulations! You can earn some great reviews as both a guest and a host which helps your profile on the website by doing a few things. Guest etiquette is essential. Ask if any specific rules are in place first and abide by them. Keep your area clean and tidy and pick up after yourself. This is not a hotel, it is (usually) a free place to stay. Be considerate of your host and say “please” and “thank you.” Being a tidy and polite guest might earn you a return stay.
A Frame of Mind
Couchsurfing has provided ways for travelers to travel and within a budget. However, no one wants to feel used. Couchsurfing has opportunities to meet interesting people and even hang out. Many hosts do not want to spend all their time talking to you but still would like to meet to say hello and show you where you will stay. Some hosts want more of a “community” feel, to show you their city, to talk or hang out or go to events. There are all sorts of hosts available, so make sure you find one that you can get along with and have the same interests. This website is more of the way of thinking and more of a balanced feel than other websites. These people want to meet you and talk a bit which can do nothing but enhance your experience in a new place.
Become a Host
Do you have a space on your couch or a spare bedroom available? You could become a host if you do! Consider becoming a host to provide someone else with the opportunity that you may have had as a CouchSurfer staying at someone else’s place. You can tailor your availability on the website by putting your status to “yes” I have available space, or “no” I do not have available space at the moment. Couchsurfing accommodations are usually only a night or a few nights. Occasionally you may get students or travelers looking for a lengthier stay, but that is up to you as a host to say yes or no.
Adjusting your profile as well will help travelers understand what you are offering and for how long. Whether you are a host or a traveler CouchSurfing has opened up new doors of possibilities to meet some great people and have fantastic experiences throughout the world. Create a profile as a traveler, a host, or both, and see the exciting places you have only dared to dream about! Share your experiences online and invite friends to try it out. What is CouchSurfing? Couchsurfing is an answer to every traveler’s prayers.