How to Be a Great Couchsurfer
Couchsurfing can be a wonderful way to meet new people and to travel on a modest budget. Take the time to plan your visit, and you can find great opportunities to discover local culture, share stories and skills with your hosts, and perhaps even form lasting friendships.
Planning a Stay
Write a clear couchsurfing request.Tell your prospective hosts when you'll arrive, why you'd like to meet them, and how long you'll be staying. Explain a little about your visit. Are you touring the area? In town for an event? Passing through on the way to someplace else? Also, make sure you've filled in your profile, so they know a little about you.
- If you're concerned about safety, choose hosts with detailed profiles and positive reviews. Women traveling alone may want to select female hosts or hosts with families, and to find the address of nearby hostels to use as a backup plan.
Coordinate with your host.Once a host has accepted your request, communicate with him to figure out the logistics. Let him know whether the dates you give him are set in stone, or whether you might show up late or leave early. Whether you're traveling by plane, car, or foot, make sure you know how to get to your host's home, and what number to call if you get lost.
- Ask whether you'll have your own key, or whether there are certain times you'll need to show up to be let in.
- Find out the details of the accommodation. You may need to bring your own sleeping bag, pillow, and/or towel.
Get local tips from your host.As a permanent member of the local community, your host can provide advice and warnings that aren't easy to find online. Feel free to ask about any topic related to your stay; your host should be happy to help. Here are a few topics that might be useful to cover before you arrive:
- Are there any day trips worth doing to nearby towns or attractions? Would your host be interested in joining you?
- What's the best way to get around the local area? How reliable is public transportation, and how late does it run? Should you rent a car?
- Are there neighborhoods that are unsafe to walk through? Are there any precautions to take?
Creating a Great Experience
Trade stories.Talk about the places you've traveled, the customs back home, or just stories from your life. Ask your host questions about the local community, its history, and his own life. Personal and cultural exchange sets couchsurfing apart from a stay in a hotel, if you step up to the opportunity.
Respect house rules.Do your best to follow the instructions the host gives you, such as which entrance to use and when to keep the noise level down. Pay attention to your hosts' habits as well, and imitate them if necessary. For example, many people leave their shoes by the front door and may think this goes without saying in their culture.
- Don't hesitate to ask questions or apologize when you make a mistake. A positive attitude goes a long way toward smoothing out minor slip-ups.
Be flexible and patient.If your host can't be home to let you in during the day, find out when he or she can be there, and then find yourself something else to do for an afternoon.
- It costs nothing to be cheerful, enthusiastic, and appreciative of your host's hospitality, and it can make a big difference in how your host sees you and treats you.
Stay in communication.Let your host know when you plan to return from an excursion, and communicate again if your plans change.
Offer to help out around the house.At the very least, clean up promptly after yourself and offer to help with dishes after a communal meal. If your host is usually busy or withdrawn, doing some light housekeeping or gardening together may be a good opportunity to connect.
Ending the Trip
Clean up after yourself.Ask your host for appropriate cleaning supplies if you need them. If your host provided a pillow, blankets, a towel, or a floor mat, ask where to put them. Return any items you borrowed.
- Don't leave anything behind besides gifts. Toss out all your trash, and offer to take the trash out if you filled it up.
Leave your host a reference.If you had a great time, say so. A good review will help your host find couch surfers that match her interests and attitude. To describe your experience with the host, visit the host's profile and click on the symbol, then "Write Reference."
- Write an honest reference that describes your host's attitude, plus a couple specific things your host did that made (or broke) your trip. Mention anything you found surprising, even if it was pleasant; other couch surfers will appreciate being told in advance.
Keep in touch.Not all surfers and hosts will make friends every time, but if you did find a friend, trade social media or email contacts. Say hello once in a while and let your hosts know how the rest of your trip is going.
How I can write a public couch request?
- When calling or texting your host for the first time, be sure to introduce yourself. "Hi, this is [name] from CouchSurfing." Otherwise, you'll just show up as an unfamiliar number.
- Try hosting, if it is within your means to do so. Otherwise, think back to a time when you had a house guest or roommate. What did that person do to be friendly and helpful? What did that person do that bugged you?
- When sharing food with someone, especially from a different culture, ask whether they avoid any foods, and adjust your menu accordingly.
- If you have any safety concerns, .
- Always have a backup plan, in case something goes wrong. That may mean having enough money on hand to get home, or to spend a few nights in a hotel if you need to. It may also mean having camping gear.
- If your host or your surroundings make you uncomfortable, cut your stay short. Most hosts will be friendly and welcoming, but there are exceptions.
- Respect your host's wishes regarding smoking, drinking, recreational drug use, etc. while staying with them.
- While some couples do meet on CouchSurfing, dating should not be your primary objective. If you think there is a possibility for romance, it may be smart to check into a hostel and continue to spend time with your host from there. Some hosts may feel uncomfortable if the near-stranger in their living room makes a move.
Sources and Citations
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Video: Couchsurfing - Finding Hosts & Writing Great Couchrequests
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