See the first post in this series here.
I hope that this little post will do Couch Surfing justice. I am worried that a simple blog post will not suffice for how much I LOVE Couch Surfing.
In my personal opinion, couch surfing is the best thing that ever happened for travelers.
http://www.couchsurfing.org is a place where you fill in a profile with photos and personal information and then you are able to connect with hosts in the country you are traveling to or you are able to host travelers.
Many people ask me how I ever could find joy in sleeping on a stranger’s couch or feel safe doing so. Here is some information on the TRUTH about Couch Surfing and some important tips for C.S. newbies!
First off, Couch Surfing is NOT just a free place to crash – it is a way to discover a culture on a level that staying in a hostel will never allow you. It is a way to find lifelong friends with locals in a country where you may not speak the language. It is a way to connect with the most beautiful, free spirited and giving people. I still stay in contact with many, many of my couch surfing hosts.
I have couch surfed both abroad and in the states. In Barcelona I stayed with 3 different hosts, in San Diego I stayed with 5 different hosts, in Chicago I stayed with one host. I have gone to Couch Surfing events in San Diego and in Chicago and have met marvelous people at both.
If you are a little scared to make the jump to couch surf; here are a few of my tips for first-timers:
1.) Fill out your profile as extensively as possible. Don’t just post random facts, post information that is as deep and real as possible and shows people who you really are. Think of what you are writing from the perspective of the person who will be reading it to host you – for example, hosts are not going to want to invite someone into their home who has not taken the time to even fill out a profile. Don’t only state that you like Chinese food and sunsets! 😉 Get a bit more personal and let your personality shine.
2.) MAKE SURE THAT YOU REALLY LOOK INTO YOUR HOSTS BEFORE SENDING THEM A COUCH REQUEST! I want to make one thing clear – not everyone in the site is awesome. The majority of REAL and experienced couch surfers are, but there are creeps on most sites. It is extremely important to make sure that your host is not some creep who has never before hosted someone or used the site. One time, I almost sent a request to someone when I was in a rush and in a bind before reading his whole profile. I am so glad I did because I found out that it was a “shared sleeping arrangement” and he had listed some other creepy and strange info on his profile! If you are new to couch surfing, stay with VOUCHED FOR hosts. This means that a certain amount of people who stayed with them in the past (I think it has to be 3 or 4…) verified that they are who they say they are and they are great hosts!
3.) Post lots of (true-to-you) photos. The best photos to share on your profile are ones that actually look like you and ones that will serve as conversation starters when you meet your hosts! Couch surfing is not a dating site. So don’t post lots of edited pictures in your Sunday best or partying garb! A lot (if not most) couch surfing hosts are travel junkies, so it is a great idea to share photos of your own travels. If you have not done much traveling yet, post some photos of your hobbies.
4.) Join groups on the site. Couch surfing is a community of all types of people. (Not just hardcore travelers or “hippies”!!) I am in many groups and change my groups depending on where I am at the moment. For example, while I was in Paris I joined an “Expats in Paris” group. Hosts will look at these groups when they check out your profile and it is an easy way to share a bit more about yourself instantly. There are many different groups to join which range from hobbies, languages and even groups to find hitch hiking buddies in different cities!
5.) Send a good request message. “Popular” hosts get many travelers messaging them to stay at their place to make sure that your message stands out! Hosts can tell when you just copied and pasted a generic message to a bunch of different hosts. I recommend writing something interesting about the host you are writing to in order for them to know you actually read their profile! Also, even though you have to fill out the dates that you are asking them to host you for in the request, it is great to fill in some info on what time and how you will arrive as well in the couch request message so they can have an easier time making a decision if it will work out in their plans to host you.
6.) Don’t expect too much… (or too little): Let me explain. New Couch Surfers get confused about how to use the site sometimes. Couch Surfing is NOT ONLY A FREE PLACE TO CRASH but it also is not free access to a local tour guide! Don’t expect too much: Do not make your hosts feel like they have to show you all around their city or spend every waking minute with you. On the flip side, don’t make your couch surfers feel like you are only interested in them upon arrival for a place to sleep. EVERY SINGLE HOST IS DIFFERENT. Some may be working a lot or busy when you are staying over, but some may expect that you will want to spend dinner time cooking together or really want to show you all around their city! It is good to learn more about what hosts will be expecting by reading their references. It is best to expect to spend some time with your host just out of courtesy – If you know that you will not have any time to spend with them, let them know your plans in the first message to them so you don’t come off as being rude.
7.) Make sure that you read references about your host. These references are EXTREMELY important to look over. Ladies: Make sure that if you are staying with a guy he does not only host (cute) girls! This is a RED FLAG CREEPER ALERT!
If you have any questions about Couch Surfing, leave a comment below!
WELCOME TO THE BEST COMMUNITY OF
THE C.S. COMMUNITY!