I just started using Couchsurfing last month when I went to a conference in Berlin. Friends of us had great experiences so far with the concept and I was eager to try it out! And let me tell you it was absolutely amazing!
I just returned from my second Couchsurfing experience in Barcelona and want to share with you 5 important Tips that you should consider to not only have a great Couchsurfing experience but also be a great Couchsurfing guest!
With CouchSurfing you get a totally different travel experience. You will stay with locals in their home and as the name suggest most of the time you’ll sleep on the couch. You will meet new people who most likely know the area your staying at and they can give you great tips on how to explore your travel destination as a local.
First you will have to sign up on the Couchsurfing Platform and fill out your profile to make it more personal. After all people are opening their homes to you. Next you can search for Hosts and ask them if they have a free couch for you. If you find a place you will confirm your stay via the couchsurfing platform and can give a review after your stay. So other couchsurfers can read up on experiences.
You can also offer your own couch if you have time and space to host. It also doesn’t have to be a couch if you have a guestroom or an air matress most couchsurfers will be ok with that as well.
By the way the whole concept is free! Yupp totally free.
Couchsurfing also offers Events in many towns that you can attend to meet new people from all over the world!
When you are a guest people (strangers even) share their home with you. You being a stranger as well to them. Sure you read a little bit of the information about them on their Couchsurfing profile but it’s another story to actually meet someone.
It all comes down to leaving a good impression. Not only because you can rate each other in the end on the Couchsurfing platform but also it’s just a polite thing to do. Just like if you want to share your apartment with other couch surfers you would want them to be respectful with your stuff as well.
Remember you don’t pay to stay so a nice thing to do is ask if you can help cleaning up or bring some groceries on your way back to the place. You could also offer to cook one of your favorite national dishes from your country.
If you want to be extra nice bring a gift! These people share their home with you for free so for me it is obvious to bring a thank you gift. Best if it’s something regional to your country! Not only are they smiling when they receive it but a gift common to your area is also a great conversation starter!
As I mentioned earlier every CouchSurfer has a profile on Couchsurfing. Not only will the information they provide give you a sense of who your dealing with also the reviews are a good indicator to see if people enjoyed their stay. Also you can have private messages with potential host/guests and get a feel for them this way. If they’re polite and helpful it usually is a good sign. There’s also a system on CouchSurfing for verification.
It’s always helpful to have the address in advance. Depending on where you’re traveling you might not have any cellphone reception or you forgot to book the travel option for internet while travling all together. In most cases you might get lucky with free wifi which is getting more and more common in most places but there’s still a chance that you’re left without it. And not to forget the battery! Imagine you run out of juice and there’s no outlet near by and you already used up your powerbank!
Just to avoid those things get the address way before you start your journey. Be old school and maybe a bit hipsterish when you write it on good old paper. You might even carry a travel journal. Just make sure you have it somewhere in an analog form. And try to write it down in your best handwriting. It can happen that you will have to show it to locals who can help you with finding your way around. So you better make sure its readable for others than yourself.
CouchSurfer-Hosts offer their space for free. Don’t expect it to be like a hotel! Bring your own shampoo, conditioner maybe even a towel. Remember it’s someones home. Ask when would be best for them for you to return home or use the shower in the morning so you don’t get in the way of people working.
Also don’t expect them to be your private tourist guide. Most likely CouchSurfer will love to help you with Tips & Tricks but they won’t stay with you all day. Some might not even spend time with you at all and just offer the roof over your head.
Don’t forget to write a review for your host. It’s not only important for them but also for future CouchSurfers looking for a place to stay.
Liked the place? Great write about it! Did your Host cancel last minute or did not reply once you where in town? Make sure to write it down! CouchSurfers rely on reviews of community members. It is really helpful to look at reviews of others to see what you will get yourelf into. Also the Host can rate you in the end. The reviews of both of you will only show up once both parties wrote a review. You won’t be able to see what the other one has written before that.
Oh and don’t hesitate to try out new Hosts that don’t have reviews yet. As I said earlier trust your guts. If they have a great personalized profile and are great when you talk to them give it a try! There’s always a first time!
Have you ever been couchsurfing? Let us know in the comments! We would love to hear your experiences!
You can find more information at https://www.couchsurfing.com/