What is Couchsurfing? Is It Safe? Is It Free? Everything You Want To Know
Each trip has its budget. When travelers visit different countries they need budget friendly places to stay.
When it comes to tight travel budget, you may check Couchsurfing website.
And there are many locals who have spare beds, floors, apartments and couches. Couchsurfing matches these two together.
What Is CouchSurfing?
CouchSurfing is a community of over 12 million members from every country of the world.
It allows travelers and locals to connect with each other online, in order to meet offline, so that they can share hospitality, cultures, and adventures.
There are many locals all around the world who have spare beds, floors, apartments and couches.
Most commonly, CouchSurfing is used to find a person who can host you (let you sleep on their couch) for free.
You’ll find yourself staying in all sorts of interesting places, with interesting people, and having experiences you would never hope to find in a hostel or hotel.
How does Couchsurfing work?
“Hosts” will list their available accommodation details on the Couchsurfing site.
When Travelers search through the website and like any accommodation, they request to “surf” with that host.
Alternatively, travelers can publish their travel plans, and hosts can offer to accommodate them.
This is totally free.
Yes, you heard it right. The exchange is done in the spirit of travelers helping other travelers.
This concept is for people who are in search of a new way to get out of the hotel concept, connect with locals, and get to know a place deeper.
Some of you might find it odd that why anyone would do this.
Why would you offer a bed for free? Why go to so much trouble to accommodate someone and get nothing in return?
Why not list it on Airbnb and make some money instead? Couchsuring is communuty .
Hosts, who are often former travelers or expatriates wanting to meet, help, and interact with travelers to share their homes.
You can find free accommodation for short duration. Accommodation can be a simple couch, spare bedrooms to dedicated guest cottages.
These hosts are usually interested in learning about your culture, or just enjoying your company as a break from their regular routine.
How do you succeed at Couchsurfing? How do you find good accommodation and host?
I am sure there must be so many things in your mind and here are some tips:
1 Fill your profile with your pictures. Profile has to be filled out completely.
As a host, I would definitely like to see your pictures, the real person.
Try to show your social life, by uploading your pictures with friends, family , travel pictures. I know it will take some time but its a good deal to save your 30-40$ accommodation expenses on hotels.
When your profile is complete and provides all the necessary information, its a good sign.
It shows you are interested and involved. It will help people to get some idea about you.
Your profile will be your first impression. Later you end up talking with hosts over e-mail to get a feel for them and what they expect.
2 Have recommendations and reviews
This is again two way. Both traveler and host will check if there are any good reviews.
As a traveler, reviews will assure you that other visitors had a safe stay, and fun at the place. At the same time host will also like to see reviews to make sure his visitor is not creepy or alien :P.
Once you’ve found a few good host profiles that are suitable (select multiple), you can start sending your requests.
3 Attend meet-ups
Couchsurfng is a community. The groups on couchsurfing.com are operated by local volunteers known as ambassadors.
Local groups often have informal meetings and gather for events and outings periodically.
Even when not traveling, you can use the groups and ambassadors to meet fellow travelers and interesting people at home!
Check out Couchsurfing.com.
4 You can be a Host too
As a host you dont always need to provide your accommodation.
You can be a city guide. Take people out and show them your town/city.
5 Get verified
Although verification is not mandatory. Its better to get it done.
People can be verified by other travelers. Combination of complete profile , verified account and reviews is the main key.
6 Send a personalized email
Its a good idea to send an email to host and talk about why you like to stay? What is your purpose of your visit ( if its not too personal).
Couchsurfing, if you do it correctly, you’ll end up saving hundreds of dollars on accommodation and making friends around the world.
Now comes the part of Couchsurfing which is Unsaid: Is It Safe?
Despite the fact that Couchsurfing provides free accommodation, there are sometimes exceptions to payback (not in terms of money). For example, paying for food, cooking, helping dishes. Sometimes teaching your host something new will pay off.
Its better to keep in mind that is not a dating site.
Consider taking a gift to your host. Its a nice gesture.
Is it safe? No matter what you read, heard and watch, when you are on road you need to use your own judgment.
First, you can choose your host (e.g., male, female, couple, etc) and can get a feel for their personalities based on their public profiles.
The more time and information put into a profile, the better.
You can see reviews left by other travelers who stayed before you, and even contact those travelers to see if they had a good experience and would stay with them again.
Usually, if it doesn’t seem right, don’t do it! But once you couchsurf for the first time, you see that it really isn’t that bad.
Hosts know that acting poorly toward guests will result in negative ratings and reviews, basically eliminating their chances of hosting travelers in the future.
This is usually enough to keep members in check.
As with any social network with millions of members, you are ultimately responsible for your own personal safety when making contact with strangers.
Being a guest can be tricky in anyone’s home, especially if they are strangers. Under their roof you are going to have to abide by their rules and regulations.
Remember that the hosts have lives too and they’re not doing this to cater to you. Sometimes something comes up and they have to cancel. This is a risk you take as a couchsurfer, so always have a plan B.
A lot of couchsurfers abuse their stay by staying too long. Many hosts are too nice to tell them to leave. Try to limit your stay to one or two nights.
Make an effort to talk to your host. They bring people into their home because they like the social aspect of couchsurfing.
If everything went well be sure to leave positive feedback on the website.
Would you like to have a look? All you need to do is point your browser over to Couchsurfing.com and click the orange button at the top that says ‘Sign Up’
I have by now you got an idea about what is couch surfing. Please share this post with other travellers.
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