Couchsurfing etiquette 101

Treated as a boon for many a traveler looking for low-cost accommodation, Couchsurfing is used by many backpackers to meet locals and experience the culture from a local perspective.
For those who host these travelers, it is means of paying it forward in thanks to those who provided them with accommodation and meeting those from foreign lands. Keeping this spirit alive is necessary for the platform to function.

Some, however, appear to mistake the platform with free accommodation and tend to take advantage of the generosity of the hosts. It is to prevent such issues and more than we at Travset, together with our several members of the Couchsurfing community has created this post on how to ensure you and your host have the best Couchsurfing experience.

Be honest in your request

The only return your host is expecting of you is your company. It is therefore important that you are honest in your descriptions of yourself and interests. You would not want to describe yourself as a party animal and have your host find you an introvert.

Give advance notice

Keep in mind that the host will be changing his plans to fit your arrival times, and common decency dictates that you give enough notice for him or her to do so.

If your plans change, do let the host know as soon as possible as it would be impolite to waste their time.

Be grateful

Accommodation via Couchsurfing is without monetary payment, but it is impolite to assume that you need not offer something else in return.

We recommend gifting your host with a token of appreciation such as a bottle of wine or a local souvenir from your country. This creates goodwill and serves as a good starter for conversation.

Do not mooch

Couchsurfing hosts are generous and it is only right to return this gesture.

Offer to cook a meal from your country and go shopping together. This and the process of cooking will be a good ice breaker and lead to many interesting conversations. Take it from our highly experienced Couchsurfing hosts!

Clean up after yourself

Making a mess of yourself and your surroundings are bad manners in general. It is therefore good to clean yourself and the area in which you occupy during your stay. If possible help with cleaning other areas of the house or assist with any odd jobs your host can use your assistance in.

Respect your host’s schedule

It is sometimes easy to forget that the population that does not subscribe to our backpacking lifestyle has 9-5 jobs and more responsibilities in general. It is, therefore, a good idea to go with the flow of the daily schedule of your hosts as it will lessen any inconveniences.

Ask questions such as what time is the latest you can arrive and whether there are any spare keys to ensure you do not disturb them.

Make sure you do not come back heavily intoxicated or with others you might have found on a great night out.

Respect your accommodation

Remember that you are on property that does not belong to you and inform the host of any damage you might have inadvertently caused and offer to pay for it.

If you are provided with a key to the accommodation, make sure you lock it well prior to leaving it.

Do not overstay

If you requested a stay for 3 nights it is only right that you stay for that time. Your host might have different plans and overstay will only interrupt this.

Leave a review

Leaving an honest review if your stay was positive would let your host become more credible as a host and give him higher chances of being accepted as a surfer in other destinations. A negative review if the stay was not pleasant would let other travelers know of such pitfalls before picking the said host.