When you set foot on a new city, the first thing that comes to your mind is where you’re going to spend the night, and if you’re anything like me, you’d want a budget-friendly place that still feels cozy and nice. But what if you can have a free place to stay during your trip? Yep! You heard it right! Totally free accommodation for as many nights as you need to discover and enjoy your travel destination.
For any of you who never heard about Couchsurfing, get ready to be mind blown! And if you have already heard about it, then you’d certainly like to know more about its concept, popularity, reliability, and more.
Basically, Couchsurfing is staying as a guest at a stranger’s place. While it may sound quite weird at first, it’s actually a very interesting way to travel the world on a budget while making friends and being able to experience everything from a local perspective.
What’s more interesting about Couchsurfing is that you can still visit forums and join events even if you’re not particularly fond of the idea of staying with people you’ve never met. It’s a genius way to immerse yourself in every country you visit.
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the website and how to use it while traveling the world.
2. what is Couchsurfing and why you should give it a try
It is a social networking website that brings like-minded backpackers or travelers together and helps them save money while still enjoying the greatest travel experiences.
When you sign up to the website, you can meet other travelers, ask someone to host you or invite someone to your home.
Many travelers have been using Couchsurfing to find travel companions, discover the country they’re visiting from a local perspective, and host other travelers.
So not only can you closely experience your destination’s authentic culture and everyday life, but you’ll also have a place to stay for free!
In fact, the main reason anyone considers Couchsurfing is cheap travel! Then comes other reasons, like making friends, getting the real feel of another culture, avoiding mainstream tourist traps, and having fun.
3. How does Couchsurfing work? & How to find or become a host?
The whole process is very simple. You just need to visit the website, sign up (for free), and use the search tool to find local people at your destination. When you’re filling out your profile, it’s important to share information (like interests and hobbies) that genuinely reflect who you really are so you can boost your chances of being hosted or being considered as a host by the people you can get along with. You should also choose how you’d like to participate, for example, you want to host, meet for a drink, or just give advice.
Here are some tips to help you find excellent hosts:
- Provide honest information about yourself when filling out your Couchsurfing profile so other people can know you enough to contact you or accept your request.
- Establish trust by uploading several pictures of you, of your home, or of you with other travelers. Everyone looks for a host with photos.
- Filter your search more accurately so you can find a host you’ll be comfortable with.
Take some time to thoroughly read the profile of your potential host before reaching out to them.
- Add a personalized and honest message to your “surfing” request. You can share your experience or describe yourself and why you chose them.
- Once you find your host, add them on Facebook, or exchange phone numbers to communicate more easily, as well as get to know each other better.
4. How to know if you can trust these random strangers you meet online?
Feeling doubtful and hesitant when contacting complete strangers is a very common concern, especially among new members of Couchsurfing. Well, it’s only reasonable to feel skeptical about living for days with someone you know nothing about, not to mention that trust is a very tricky thing.
However, note that the random stranger you’re doubting is actually welcoming you (who is a total stranger too in your host’s eyes) into his or her home and personal life with wide open arms and without asking you for anything in return.
Couchsurfing is a community of travel lovers who seek a unique way to explore the planet and meet like-minded people. But to keep everyone safe, the community adopts certain security and verification features to establish and maintain trust among users. Such features include the “official verification”, in which a user donates 25 dollars or more to get their name and address verified through a credit/debit card and by entering a code received through the mail.
The next level of being a trustworthy member requires references from previous hosts and couch surfers. The more details provided, the better.
Also, there is the Vouching system, which consists of active couchsurfers vouching for those they think are trustworthy, eventually creating an extra layer of trust. But if you want to vouch for others, you should have been vouched three times, meaning you’ll need to find other users who have been vouched before.
5. What can you do to repay the favor when you’re hosted?
There isn’t really much to do because you aren’t required to do anything in return. However, your host will definitely appreciate it if you could help with some household chores, such as washing the dishes, cooking meals, helping with the cleaning, or any other way to show how grateful you are.
The most important thing is to spend time with your host, talk, share stories, explore nearby areas, or even other cities together, and simply enjoy exchanging.
Most of the couchsurfers share the same belief that Couchsurfing is a wonderful and authentic way of travel.
So, if you’re ready for a Couchsurfing experience that may change your life, head to the website right away to sign up.
Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have some travel stories or pieces of advice that you’d like to share.