Couchsurfing

Image Source: Globotreks

http://www.couchsurfing.org

Who said you had to actually get off the couch to see the world?

CouchSurfing connects travellers in need of a place to crash with locals who have a (hopefully comfortable) couch they are happy to let a stranger sleep on.

No money is exchanged, however CouchSurfers will usually do something like buy their host a small gift or cook them a (preferably delicious) meal to say thank you.

You can find Couch Surfers in almost every part of the world. Awesome if you’re allergic to the beaten path.
Image source: www.couchsurfing.com/

If you can get uncomfortable in social situations and don’t like stepping outside the square, CouchSurfing is probably not for you.

However, if you love to meet new people, save some pennies and are looking for an experience you will never forget, CouchSurfing may be the adventure you have been waiting for.

Don’t be fooled into thinking CouchSurfers are all poor twenty somethings who have spent all their cash on beer. There are retirees and grandparents who have couch surfed around the world and hosted travellers in their own homes.

Register and set up a killer profile (not literally – this will hardly encourage strangers to invite you into their homes). Include photos, interests and even references to sell yourself to prospective hosts.

Enter your destination and narrow the results by the gender, age, languages spoken, and so on to start searching for your ideal place to stay.

Be sure to confirm whether it is a couch, bed or even a sleeping bag that you will be crashing out on and just how private the room is.

Obviously, closely scrutinise the references and reviews of a host before you contact them to register your interest.

Here’s a video that we made on some of the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of Couchsurfing for your viewing pleasure!

It goes without saying that rocking up to a stranger’s home to sleep on their couch has the potential to turn out badly.

CouchSurfing relies on a combination of references, heavily detailed profiles and other CouchSurfers vouching for hosts to create as safe a CouchSurfing environment as possible.

That said, go with your gut and if something seems not quite right, don’t stick around. Also, always give the details of who you are staying with and where to a friend or family member.

CouchSurfer members can catch up with other like minded travellers via CouchSurfing Activities. Any member can set up an activity, whether it is drinks in an old pub in Dublin or a road trip in a campervan through Sicily.

  • It’s free. So, it’s no wonder many of world’s most expensive cities for accommodation, including New York, Paris and London, are some of the most popular destinations for CouchSurfers.
  • It only takes a quick glance through the profiles of members to see that CouchSurfing really is changing lives. Whether it is sharing stories with new friends on the other side of the world or visiting places you never otherwise would have dreamt of, pretty much anything is possible.
  • There are CouchSurfers all over the world, so there really is no limit on what you can do and where you can go. Heck, you can even CouchSurf in a cave in Jordan!

Well, there has to be a reason everyone isn’t CouchSurfing.

  • Safety concerns. CouchSurfers need to be well aware of the risks before they sign up to sleeping on a stranger’s couch. You can find CouchSurfing’s safety tips here.
  • Looks can be deceiving. That comfortable couch (or even better, spare room), could be riddled with bed bugs or conveniently located in a dodgy part of town even the locals avoid. Check the reviews to be safe and if you aren’t happy when you get there, make your excuses and leave.
  • You run the risk of landing the most frustrating host (or CouchSurfer for that matter) in the history of the world. Our tip? Set boundaries and expectations during your initial email contact.

    Maybe it is just you after all. Having trouble getting hosts to respond to your CouchSurfing requests? Here are ten tips on how to maximise your profile.

If you love to meet new people, save some dough and don’t have back problems that would prevent you from sleeping on someone’s couch, CouchSurfing is definitely worth a go.


 

2 responses to “Couchsurfing

  1. Pingback: Travel before the Internet: a backpacker’s tale. | A Not So Lonely Planet·

  2. Pingback: If we won the lottery, this is where we’d stay. | A Not So Lonely Planet·

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