Why Aren’t You Couchsurfing Yet?
Nearly everyone I meet who has not yet used the Couchsurfing (CS) website has a reason for why they think they won’t like it, and many of those reasons are false, easily fixed or worked around by using the websites search filters. I have so many fantastic reasons for couchsurfing, so please read on and give it a shot! For me, the positive reasons for couchsurfing far, far, FAR outnumber the negative reasons.
I’m happy to share what I’ve learned from my Couchsurfing experiences as both a traveler and host. Let me know if any of your best tips!
- Setting Up a Great Profile in 3 Easy Steps
- Get an Amazing Host in 7 Steps
- Find Fantastic CS Daytime Hosts and CS Events
- Find Fun Guests! For Daytime and Lodging Hosts
- Couchsurfing Safety Tips for Travelers and Hosts, 6 tips from my first-hand experience
Great Reasons for Couchsurfing: It’s better than you might think
Here are some reasons I’ve heard from friends, colleagues, and family for not using the Couchsurfing website, and my responses:
I don’t feel comfortable staying in a stranger’s home or having a stranger in my home
That’s perfectly fine, and there are so many others who agree with you! In your profile you should select the option ‘Wants to Meet Up’. This way you can send and receive requests to meet for coffee, a walk around town, or anything else you can think of, and travelers looking for a room won’t bother you, since your profile won’t come up when they search for a sleeping space. And, you can always just join the CS community at events.
I prefer private space, and won’t sleep in someone’s living room
Agreed! I read my potential hosts profile section called ‘My Home’. This tells me if I’ll have a private bedroom or not. If it’s unclear, then I ask for more information. I’m more likely to have a private bedroom when staying with a people older than college age.
I don’t want to sleep on someone’s couch
It is rare that I’ve slept on anyone’s couch while couchsurfing. In fact, I can only remember sleeping on a couple of couches when there were no other hosts available. Typically I get a real bed, fold-out couch, or a comfortable mattress on the floor in a private room. I’ve never had a dirty sleeping area, because I read my hosts’ references and if they mention cleanliness I avoid that host. I once had a luxurious airbed on the floor, and my Swiss host had made it up with a chocolate on the pillow, just like in a fancy hotel!
I want to choose the food I eat, and not be forced to eat my host’s food
That’s perfect! Most hosts will offer you some food items, like breakfast or the use of basic cooking items (salt, spices, butter) in case you’d like to cook. Overall hosts prefer their fridge not be raided. If I eat with my host, we often have shopped together to share the costs, so we’ve already determined what foods we like. Finally, it is common for guests to offer to make a snack or meal for their host as a thank you gift and cultural exchange.
Hosting or staying with a couchsurfer seems dangerous! They could steal my things, kill me in the night, or who knows what else
Absolutely true, and I’ve heard this concern from both men (axe murdering women and robbery are common themes) and women (organ stealing, rape, murder, robbery and overall ‘bad things’ are frequent fears). This is exactly why using common sense, like meeting your host/guest in a public place, and understanding all the Couchsurfing safety tips is necessary.
If you don’t feel comfortable at any point, leave immediately. The worst that can come of it is a negative reference, which is perfectly fine compared to the potential unsafe alternative. Also, report any incidents to the Couchsurfing support team once you’re in a safe place, so that others are warned.
Is Airbnb or another paid service safer?
First of all, every Couchsurfing safety issue I can think of could also occur with Airbnb and similar services (do a Google search to find them), so I don’t feel another service is safer. In fact, all of the paid services have a page on Safety on their websites, just like the Couchsurfing website.
Second, Couchsurfers’ references generally address the personality of the host/traveler, whereas those on Airbnb often focus only on the cleanliness of the space and other items not related to safety. Whether paying for a room or an entire house, someone else definitely has a copy of the house key and could enter at any time, whether it’s the owner, cleaning person, or someone else.
Finally, apart from large hotels in the USA, I’m not sure how (or if!) non-USA hotels or Airbnb check the criminal background of employees and hosts.
Just remember, the vast majority of people around the world are extraordinarily nice and helpful. So, follow any safety tips and it’s most likely that you’ll spend many happy years without a dangerous incident.
That’s all for now. As always, let me know if you have any questions or if I missed anything. The CS community is great, and we love helping our fellow travelers!
Since 2008 I have used the free Couchsurfing.org website for much more than finding a free place to stay the night. I have many reasons for couchsurfing When traveling, I connect with locals who share my hobbies and interests, so I can learn the “best of…” in their area. And, when at home I use the website to connect with travelers and like-minded locals by hosting travelers for a few hours or overnight and attending events, like meet-ups or the local ‘couchsurfing foodie’ group. I’ll share my tips with you here.
Couchsurfing.org has saved me thousands of dollars on tours, transportation, and lodging, and you can do the same. The website allows learning directly from local contacts generously helping travelers like you and me!
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