If you are looking for excitement, adventure, and spontaneity in your trip, couch surfing will most definitely deliver. For travelers who are looking to save wherever they can, couch surfing is a great option, as you can find stay for little to nothing. In addition to stay, people have also enjoyed free meals, tours, and even events with hosts while visiting. It not only cuts costs, but allows you to get to know the locals and build new relationships with people all over the world.
What is Couch Surfing?
“Couch surfing” is a term that has been coined for travelers who temporarily stay in other people’s homes as an alternative to more traditional accommodations. The typical set-up allows you to sleep on a local’s couch for free. However, couch surfing has become so popular that hosts have even offered spare guest rooms and any other living spaces to travelers.
What should I expect from Couch Surfing?
Sometimes you won’t find what you are looking for on one site. You’ve sent multiple requests, yet you still haven’t booked a spot. Sometimes the lack of response can be due to other reasons, such the host already being booked, or perhaps not taking guests at that time. To widen your pool of options, create multiple profiles on different couch surfing websites in order to reach more hosts.
Every host is different. Not every host will offer you just a couch. Some will offer a spare bedroom or a free meal. Some will even offer to show you around town. Read through profiles carefully and see what different amenities are available and choose what works best for your situation.
Not every experience is pleasant. Sometimes you arrive to your hosts’ house and the living room is small and the couch is uncomfortable. Maybe they do not have air conditioning and there are lots of mosquitos. Or perhaps the space is great, but you don’t really get along with your host. Just like with hotels and hostels, there will be times where your situation isn’t ideal. Make the best of it by coming prepared with items that make you feel more comfortable, like a blanket or ear plugs.
What are the rates for Couch Surfing?
On websites such as couchsurfing.com and Globalfreeloaders.com, staying with hosts is completely free. However, many sites, as well as travelers, recommend that you spend in a different way when staying with a host to show your appreciation. This includes gestures such as cooking a meal for your host, or bringing them a gift.
How to Couch Surf
The best way to plan your trip around couch surfing would be to use online platforms, such as CouchSurfing.com. Sites like this allow you to create a profile, and surf their databases for available hosts in your desired country. You can screen hosts by reading ratings and reviews left by other travelers, as well verifications made by the website itself to secure identity. It is important to find an ideal host, but it is even more crucial to be the ideal guest. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you want to win over a host:
Make sure to have good reviews on your profile. Just as you are hoping to find a host that won’t steal your stuff or make you feel unsafe, hosts look for the same in their guests. Reviews on your profile help hosts get to know you. If you are new to couch surfing, ask some friends who also use the site to leave some reviews for you. You can also diversify your reviews by volunteering to become a host first yourself!
Take time filling out your profile, and get verified. The more information you provide about yourself, the better idea the host has about the kind of person you are. Painting a vivid picture leaves them with less questions, and being verified by the website shows that you take this process seriously.
Send a personal email with your request. Make your request stand out by taking your time to write a customized email to the host. Tell them about yourself, and what you are looking to get out of your trip. Mention some of the things you have in common and other aspects of their profile you noticed. This effort almost always increases the response rate from hosts.
Why Should I Couch Surf?
Although couch surfing may seem scary and borderline dangerous, the experience it provides is priceless. It allows you to have free stay with locals all over the globe, and fosters new relationships and personal growth. It leaves you extra cash to spend on something else you otherwise couldn’t have done, and provides you with opportunities you would have never known were available to you.
Is Couch Surfing Save?
In general couch surfing can be considered as safe. Just make sure to use the large couch surfing websites. Here you can carefully select hosts and surfers, based on their profiles and reviews. Some websites, like Couchsurfing.com, even have verified members. These members are verified and therefore can be highly trusted.