Couchsurfing for dummies

Couchsurfing is a website which allows you to connect with locals, make friends, get tours and find a home to stay in – all for free. The idea is that people offer their homes, time and hospitality and in return they gain a friend, learn about different cultures and have fun with like minded people.

So where should you start? It is not always easy finding the perfect host. In big cities such as New York – it is almost impossible to find a couch surfing host to show you around.

So you must stand out from the crowd, persevere and be patient. Remember as a traveler to take the leap of faith and trust people. Go with your gut instinct – it is 99.99% of the time right.

Here are my top tips for using couchsurfing.

Its all about your dazzling profile:

‘Be yourself everyone else is taken.’

Your potential hosts want to know you will be fun, interesting and a respectful guest. Fill in as much as you can on your profile.

When writing about why you are on couchsurfing, let others know it is for the cultural exchange – not the free accommodation. If you genuinely are only couchsurfing for a free bed – think again. The idea of couchsurfing is to make friends and experience living like a local. It is an added benefit that it is all free.

Put a few travel, smiley photos up of yourself – show you are human!

Get as many references as possible:

People are more likely to invite you to stay if you have references. Again, you cant make these up. If you are struggling to get a host start by meeting up with other couchsurfers. Day trips with locals are just as fun. And they will give you a reference which will get the ball rolling.

Write personal messages to people:

Write to hosts telling them about your journey so far, ask them if they are free to have you for a few nights. If you don’t ask you wont get. I wrote to many hosts before getting any offers.

Tailor the messages to their profiles. If someone has a dog – tell them how much you love dogs and would like to meet theirs. Be chatty and ask questions.

This will give you an idea of how good their language skills are and if they seem friendly.

Don’t accept the first invitation:

You can be as picky as the hosts are. Just because someone has offered to host you it doesn’t men they are the right match for you. Check where they live, their references and what they will offer you.

Contact referees:

If unsure about a host, talk to others who have stayed with them. This will help you decide if they are worth visiting.

Etiquette when staying:

Share your culture with your hosts and offer your home if they ever visit you. Feel free to cook them a thank you meal, buy them a gift or write them a postcard from your next destination.

Make sure to show your thanks by being respectful. Leave the room as they gave it to you and fit around their schedule.

It is not necessary to buy every host a gift but you can offer to pay the food bill for dinner.

Last but not least – Relax:

Feel at home away from home. If your stay feels awkward or uncomfortable make an polite excuse to leave.

The idea is to have fun and get some home comforts while traveling and living out of a rucksack.


Who else has been couchsurfing and has some top tips?


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