I’ve been thinking about writing a new post for a few days, I’ve been wanting to write something about CouchSurfing and while I’ve been awake for the last 45 minutes I thought this is as good time as ever to write it down (maybe I’ll even be able to sleep after I’ve got this out of my mind 😉 )
What is CouchSurfing exactly? A lot of people, and also travelers, don’t know about CouchSurfing. It’s a shame cause it really is a good way to travel on a low budget and meeting amazing people. CouchSurfing is an online community where people can share their couch to travelers who need a place to stay. Some people only have a couch for the surfers, others have real beds/ air beds or couches that can turn into beds. Surfers can put in a request to surf on your couch and you have every ability to accept or decline any request you get. You, as a host, can set boundaries (the time they can be in your house, what time they have to leave, what’s to be expected of the surfers, what surfers can or can’t expect from you) and surfers have to abide by them.
Surfers and hosts can, and most of them do, leave references for the hosts/ surfers. This is a great tool to see who is reliable to surf your couch or who is reliable as a host. Hosts and surfers can both be verified and get their identity checked. As a host you can state that surfers have to be verified and checked out by the CouchSurf community (which is easy, but you have to put in a little bit of time to do so)
Some surfers give you something (something from their own country) or do you some favors, some cook, some clean, some do the dishes. Some hosts cook for their guests, some will provide them with drinks or food, others don’t. It’s all open to the host and surfer, which makes it exciting and also different everywhere you surf or whomever you host.
I’ve been hosting since 2008 and this year I’ve got a lot of requests and I’m hosting quite a few people/ groups. I like to give the surfers a place to call “home” when they are away. A safe and comfortable place to just relax and hang out after a long day (of travel, hanging out in the city). I think I’m a good host and I love to meet people all around the world.
The people I pick or accept are the people who I immediately feel connected with, right away from the first message they sent me. I love it when people refer to my profile, so I can see that they’ve really read my profile and know what they can expect when surfing with me. I for instance don’t accept people who are not verified and have no references at all. I can make exceptions, but I rarely do. This is because when I first signed up with CS I thought it was really important for me to show the community I was trustworthy and reliable, so I verified immediately and had my address checked right away. I didn’t even had requests for my couch or feedback, I just thought “If I want to host reliable people, I have to be reliable from the start”.
I’ve never had a bad experience with surfers before. I’ve had some people stay over that I haven’t felt too connected with, but for the most part I did. I also have more experience picking the right people to stay over with me, I can feel a lot more from the way people approach me through a request and when I see their profile I know I am a good fit 😀
My experiences with surfing is none. I haven’t surfed yet. The places where I go to are mostly my international friends and I haven’t needed a place to surf at yet. But if I need to, and I will someday, I am curious where I’ll end up with. The good thing about me having so many surfers here now is that I’m building my own CS network and I know I am welcome to anyone who’s ever surfed my couch, so I probably won’t need a lot of “new” places to surf at 😛
If you are planning a trip and are on a low budget I’d advice to check out CouchSurfing (www.couchsurfing.org). It’s free to sign up, and it’s also free to get verified (or at least it was when I signed up). Check it out! You could also post on the main page that you’re looking for a place to stay and hosts that are available can contact you directly. There’s also events planned for CouchSurfers in big cities and hosts can change their status in “No Couch Available”, “I can hang out”, “Couch Available”, “Traveling”, so you know exactly what to expect from a host!
So again, have a look in the amazing world that’s called CouchSurfing and you’re trips will be even better 😀 Have fun surfing and/ or hosting!!!