7 Easy Tips – Find Fun Couchsurfing Guests!

Introduction

I often host soon after returning from a trip, since I miss experiences meeting new people everyday that I get during my travels. This allows me to extend the excitement of travel by living vicariously through my guests’ adventures when we chat at the end of each day. It’s important to me that I find fun Couchsurfing guests whose company I will enjoy.

Here are my tips for selecting and hosting fun Couchsurfing guests, which I’ve learned from my best hosts around the world. I’ve been both a guest and host for years, so if you have any questions or have a tip to add, please share in the comments below!

Find Fun Couchsurfing Guests

For me, what I consider a fun guest changes from time to time. When I’m busy with work, I prefer guests who will generally take care of themselves, but are enthusiastic about seeing my area or seem interesting, so we can have nice chats in the evening. When I’m less busy, I’m happy to take my guests to a cool restaurant or to see a special forest in my area. I know it sounds odd, but people come from around the world to see the redwood trees on the California coast. Selecting and hosting guests can be such a fabulous experience with a bit of effort.

  1. Profile. Apart from having a great profile describing yourself, the ‘My Home’ section describes the guests’ space.
    1. Provide details about the sleeping space. Is there a lock on the door of a private bedroom (especially important to female guests if you are a male host)? It’s best to set clear expectations on the amount of privacy your guest should expect.
    2. Others in Your Home. Ensure you mention anyone else in your home—roommates, family members, pets, etc. Also, mention any frequent guests or significant others. Guests might have a terrible cat allergy and would not be comfortable in your home. Or, a female guest might be more comfortable staying with a male host if his girlfriend or sisters are often visiting.
    3. Blankets and Towel. If you expect your guest to provide these, make sure it’s highlighted. Most guests expect a host to provide these, and many do not travel with a sleeping bag.
    4. House Key. If you do not plan to provide a house key, definitely write this and provide approximate hours when guests must be out of your home. Some travelers will not stay with you, since many people don’t want to leave their luggage in a place they cannot access. Or, they might want to sleep in until 9am, which is impossible if you leave home at 8am.
    5. Provide details on public transportation. Most travelers use public transport, and will want to know how far your home is from the tourist locations, the closest airport, bus stop or train station to your home, and whatever else is relevant to your area. Do NOT provide your address in your public profile.
    6. Kitchen and Food. Let your guests know if they would be allowed to use your kitchen. Travelers often like to save money, or just feel at home, by preparing food. Also, let them know if they will not have access to the kitchen, as many assume that they would.
    7. My great hosts always offered to let me use their washing machines. Unfortunately, I don’t have a machine in my home, so I let guests know this in advance.
    8. I note this in my profile, but mostly so that when a guest arrives they know to ask me for the password, in case I forget.
    9. No Surprises. I realize that many people drink coffee in the morning, and don’t want any grumpy guests at 7 in the morning. Since I don’t keep coffee in my home, I let guests know that there are coffee shops near my home, or they can bring their own coffee.
    10. Special or Unique. Is there something really great about your home, neighborhood or yourself that a guest might love? Let them know! If I’m traveling long-term, I’m always excited to find a host who has a quiet garden or lives a short distance from a beach, or who enjoys sharing meals. I will often give up other priorities for these things. Help your guest make a good decision!
  1. Select Your Guest. Invite a guest or wait for someone to request your “couch”.
    1. Invite a Guest. Rather than waiting for someone to request me as a host, I prefer to browse the travelers coming to my area and send those that look like fun couchsurfing guests an invitation directly. This way I am more in control of the experience and am more likely to have a guest I will enjoy. From ‘My Dashboard’, at the top center of the screen click on the dropdown arrow next to the search bar and select ‘Find Travelers’. I then select the large city near mine. I know that travelers try to stay in that city, since that’s where the famous sights are, and they often aren’t aware of surrounding towns. I also know that with so much tourism there, hosts get bombarded with requests and travelers sometimes resort to staying with hosts who aren’t great. Then, I read profiles to find someone who I think would be a fun couchsurfing guest.
    2. Couch Request. If someone sends a couch request, ensure it is addressed to you specifically, which shows the traveler took some time to read your profile. They might mention some hobbies you have in common, for example. You can read about a good couch request here.
    3. Read the travelers profile and references before sending an invitation or accepting their request. It would be rude to rescind an invitation after they accept.
  1. Send an Invitation.
    1. Send an invitation only for the dates that fit your schedule. A traveler might want to stay in your city for 6 days, but you can invite them for fewer days. If we get along well, I let them know that they can stay longer.
    2. Meeting Place. Meet in a public place for both your safety and theirs. You can let them know the major cross streets near your home, so they can plan. However, you don’t need to give them your address at this point. If you don’t have many references, most guests will prefer to meet you in a public place. Personally, I will only meet a host in their home if they have about positive 15 references or more. I’d rather meet somewhere that is easy for me to get back to a hotel, when I’m carrying my luggage, just in case.
  1. They’re Coming! You’ve accepted their couch request or they’ve accepted your invitation. Hooray, this is exciting! Now it’s time to get organized.
    1. If you have roommates, let them know fun Couchsurfing guests are coming. Otherwise, it’s awkward for the Couchsurfer when your roommates give them a strange look when you introduce them.
    2. Is there anything you don’t want your Couchsurfer to use? Maybe your fancy bath soap or a special food? Either hide it away or mention it to your Couchsurfer when you first show them your home. When I visit someone’s home, and they mention that I can ‘use whatever soap is in the bathroom’, I won’t know that one is regular and another is fancy, especially when I’m in a foreign country and unfamiliar with the local soaps.
    3. Pick up local maps or bus schedules or brochures on tourist sights as you see them. My best host for this had a binder of brochures of local sights and tours, which was left on the nightstand by my bed.
  1. Introductions.
    1. Meeting in a Public Place. Meet publicly for safety and ensure you are comfortable before bringing your guest into your home. Introduce yourself and start chatting. Some hosts chat with me only a moment or two before guiding me to their home. Mostly they wanted to make sure I look like a real traveler before letting me into their private space. Other hosts prefer to chat for 10 or 15 minutes to get comfortable. Either way is fine—what’s important is that everyone feels safe and happy.
    2. Introduce Your Guest to Your Home. Show them your home, especially their sleeping space and where they can put their things. I also show them the bathroom, kitchen, and give them the wifi password. I might also introduce my guest to my neighbors.
  1. Ask if they have questions. Answer questions. Since I live near a very touristy city, most often the questions are about what tourist sights they should see, or public transportation options to the sights on their bucket list.
  1. Something Special. I try to do something special for each of my guests. Perhaps I bring home some local chocolate, invite them to dinner with my friends, or take them to the local farmer’s market or a yoga class. It doesn’t necessarily cost me any money, and it gives my guest a feeling of feeling welcome in my community and another good memory for their trip. If you ensure that they have a good time, it is likely that you will have many more fun Couchsurfing guests in the future, since you will receive nice references.
Since 2008 I have used the free Couchsurfing.org website for much more than finding a free place to stay the night. When traveling, I connect with locals who share my hobbies and interests, so I 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. 
Personalized assistance is available. A 45 minute session includes a review of your profile and advice specific to your needs, such as what to include in your profile or any fears or concerns about meeting a host for the first time. Couchsurfing.org is truly an amazing resource, which unfortunately most people don’t take full advantage of, since they think it’s only for staying on someone’s dirty couch — personally, I’ve never stayed on a dirty couch, and never plan to! As an added benefit to me as a traveler, 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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