If you haven’t heard of it already, Couchsurfing is one of the best means of seeing and experiencing a new destination from a local eye.
Advertising itself as a hospitality and social networking service accessible via a website and mobile app, Couchsurfing.com allows travelers who need an accommodation to connect with a host who is willing to share an extra couch or bed. It is, however, more than free accommodation and more of an exchange of cultures. It allows travelers to enjoy a more authentic homestay with the locals and experience the destination as the locals do. The local host, in turn, is exposed to the culture of the traveler, making Couchsurfing an eye-opening experience for both.
Couchsurfing is simple and easy to navigate around.
1. Create a profile and get verified
Head over to https://www.couchsurfing.com and sign up for a new profile. It’s very seamless and should not take you longer than 5 minutes.
Once the profile is created, the next task is to complete your profile with information about you, your travels, you like and other general information. This is ignored by many but is easily one of the most important things a host looks for when confirming requests for a couch from travelers. A sense of kinship makes for a comfortable stay for both parties!
We also recommend specifying whether you are open to hosting, looking for hosts or both and verifying your profile via adding your phone number to your profile This is not shared with the public but kept with Couchsurfing to verify the identities of the members joining it.
Travset tip- connect your Facebook profile to your profile. You might have some friends willing to host you or are looking for hosts already! Some recommendations from your friends will increase trust in your profile and your chances of finding a host or hosting.
2. Find hosts
Finding hosts on Couchsurfing is pretty straightforward. All that has to be done is choose the location you would like to find accommodation in and you will be presented with a list of hosts in the selected destination. Make sure you look at their profiles, reviews, likes, photos, and house rules carefully to ensure you will be a good fit. Once you have selected around 5-10 hosts, the next step is to send a Couchsurfing request.
3. Send a request
A Couchsurfing request allows those looking for hosts to let hosts know the same. Such requests for hosting however must be crafted carefully as you are asking a stranger to let you into his house. This is only possible through trust, so we recommend introducing yourself, your purpose of visit with duration and listing your plans for the said destination. It helps if you have common interests and you would be willing to return the hospitality by cooking a local dish or buying a beer for your host!
Travset tip- you can also set a public request for accommodation, thereby allowing hosts to reach out to you.
4. Follow the rules during your stay
Couchsurfing is a community of giving, paying it forward and there are some unwritten rules that apply when hosting or surfing.
Reciprocate- Couchsurfing hosts do not require payment. It is, however, good manners to offer to cook a local meal, buy a beer or offer a trinket back from home. Little gestures go a long way!
Skip the romance- Couchsurfing is a community of travelers looking to meet fellow travelers and exchange cultures. It is therefore wise not to complicate this and make your host or Couchsurfer uncomfortable.
Be considerate- cleaning up after yourself is very important when surfing. It is also a good idea to offer to pay for any phone calls or the internet you might have consumed during your stay. Finally, obey the house rules and leave after the agreed number of days.
5. Leave a reference
If you had a good experience with Couchsurfing it is important that you leave a reference saying the same. This applies for bad experiences too as Couchsurfing is a community built on trust and references allow fellow hosts and surfers to have a better experience.