Successful Couchsurfing, Part 1: What Is Couchsurfing and Is It for You?
In the first part of our two part Couchsurfing series we introduce Couchsurfing and you can find out if it suits your travel style.
Couchsurfing is a bit of a traveller phenomenon; some people swear by it, some couldn’t think of anything worse. I am one of the former. For me couchsurfing is not just a cheap alternative to a hotel, it also gives you the chance to experience a bit of local culture and take a break from the monotony of generic travel. However it’s not for every traveller. Keep reading below to see if it’s something you should try.
What is Couchsurfing?
So you ask, what is this Couchsurfing thing everyone is on about? Well essentially Couchsurfing is an online travel community of more than 10 million people where you can connect with people and organize to stay with them for free!
The community is made up of hosts (people who open their homes to travellers and surfers) and travellers who stay with hosts for short periods of time. Couchsurfing also includes events that range from group travel excursions, talks and travel events to community and culture events you may have otherwise not had access to. Obviously this is not a travelling style to suit everyone but for some it’s a life changing experience!
Couchsurfing has been around since 2004 when it was founded by a group of people who had the idea that people anywhere in the world would like to share their homes with travellers and it has grown from there.
You sign up on Couchsurfing.com and fill in a profile with all your details (there are authenticating options to help with safety concerns). From there you can search and connect with people in different locations, view information about their lives & homes and approach them to stay.
It is also a thriving community enabling you to talk through travel ideas and concerns on the forum and even join events near you to meet other Couchsurfers and explore your city.
Couchsurfing pros and cons:
- A free place to stay - For us lifestyle travellers, budget is an important aspect and the chance for some low cost accommodation can be a life saver.
- Insider info - Discover local events you wouldn’t have heard of otherwise, get itinerary advice and local knowledge from your hosts.
- Friends for life - Many couch hosts are amazingly generous, they share their homes and sometimes even meals with you, take you out and show you round and generally support your travel however possible.
- Meet up groups - Are a great way to meet like-minded people on the road and join together to try new experiences.
- Lack of privacy – Privacy can be an issue, sometimes you will be in a spare room but other times on a couch in the communal area which dictates you privacy and schedule.
- Fitting in with hosts' timetable - Some hosts work during the day and restrict access to the house during these times. This is perfectly understandable but a good thing to be aware of before you decide to spend a few days resting and updating your blog.
- Weird hosts – You will meet hosts of all shapes, sizes and motivations. You are not always going to get along with everyone who hosts you but while you’re in their house you will need to abide by their rules.
The key to comfortable Couchsurfing is knowing what you’re getting into. If you have a sense of adventure and couchsurfing sounds like it would suit you, I suggest you go to the website and have a look. It’s free to sign up and you can browse through some hosts and get a feel for the community.
Next week’s blog, Couchsurfing part 2 will cover getting an awesome host and being a good surfer and it will help you start your Couchsurfing journey successfully.
Author of Stree Free Adventure Planning
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