Prior to backpacking Europe, I would never consider CouchSurfing. “Um, requesting to crash on a complete stranger’s couch for a night or two for free? No thanks, sounds dangerous!” But after asking several friends along the way, I had my first CouchSurfing experience in Vienna, Austria and shortly realized everything I thought about CouchSurfing was wrong! Couchsurfing has not only shown me a more comfortable and cost-effective way to travel, but it has connected me with locals who know their city well and provided me with experiences I will keep for a lifetime. CouchSurfing is a platform for like-minded travelers to open up their homes to one another. I have found this to be the most generous act anyone has ever done for me while traveling and I would not hesitate to return the favor in the future. We live in a well-connected world! Ditch the days of paying hundreds for a hotel room that you hardly spend time in and dive into a real traveling experience! As with anything, there is the potential to have a bad experience, but if you follow the tips below you might find that Couchsurfing is the missing link to your travel experience! So what’s stopping you?
Show Your Personality
When completing your CouchSurfing profile make sure to let your personality shine through. Let potential hosts know you’re a serious traveler with interests! Are you a sucker for Thai food or an underground hangout spot? Add that to your profile! This allows local hosts to select their guests based on their interests and gives you a more personalized experience. Here are a few lines from my profile: “Left my job to go on the adventure of a lifetime! I am a part-time blogger and a full-time coffee lover. I love taking unique pictures for my website. If you know of any great views or coffee shops in your city…what are you waiting for? Let’s go!”
Verify Your Membership
Investing in a verified membership shows potential host that you are a real person and increases your chances of finding a great place to stay. Just as concerned as you are about safety so are the hosts! The verified membership allows you to send as many messages as you like and use all of the CouchSurfing features. It costs $60 for a lifetime membership and compared to how much you could spend on hostels or hotels it’s totally worth it!
Post Your Travel Plans
After my first experience in Vienna, I was hooked to CouchSurfing and wanted to do it anywhere I could! CouchSurfing has a feature that allows surfers to post their travel plans in advance to give hosts an idea of who will be in their city on what dates. Many people may find posting their plans dangerous, but this feature helped me tremendously. If hosts know when you will be in town, this can increase the amount of hosting offers you receive. Once you receive offers it is then up to you to decide which host will be the best match. While volunteering, I met an individual who mentioned that they are a host on CouchSurfing. Although, I did not meet this person on CouchSurfing I had a very unpleasant experience with them. To prevent something similar happening to someone else, I wrote a review on their CouchSurfing profile so that potential surfers are aware. If you receive a request to stay with someone, look at their profile and read their reviews thoroughly. Take note of the age and gender of the reviews as well. CouchSurfing encourages honest reviews amongst the community. If something is questionable or if there are no reviews, there is no harm in kindly declining their offer. Your safety and peace of mind come first and there will always be more hosts!
Be Selective + Have a Backup Plan
CouchSurfing can save you tons of money and prolong your travels. Who doesn’t love the sound of that? It’s important to note that Couchsurfing may not be possible everywhere you go, and that’ okay! Don’t force it to happen just to save a little cash. CouchSurfing is meant to first and foremost create local connections. Make sure you are genuinely comfortable with each opportunity you are presented with, and always always always have the name of a local hostel or hotel in your back pocket should an emergency happen.
I hope these tips give you peace of mind and bust a few myths about CouchSurfing. Give it a go during your next adventure and seize the missed opportunities for new friendships and experiences.
Have you CouchSurfed before? What was your first experience like? Let me know down below!
Until next time,
The Pint Sized Traveler