Couchsurfing: the pros and cons of budget travel, how to become a “host” or “surfer”?

Visit new cities and countries, meet new people, and save money on lodging — that’s what CouchSurfing is all about.

Table of Contents

· CouchSurfing — what it is and how to use it
· Pros of Couchsurfing
· Cons of Couchsurfing
· How and where to choose a host
Some points when choosing a “host” that will help to find interesting people and observe the rules of safety:
· How to host yourself

CouchSurfing — what it is and how to use it

Couchsurfing is a huge community of independent travelers, with over 6 million members in 246 countries. People in this community provide free accommodation to each other and travel together (a host and a resident of a certain city introduces a guest to his city).

If you are at home, you can become a host and send out invitations (requests) to travelers to sleep over. If you are a traveler looking for a place to stay, you become a surfer (someone who seeks lodging for a trip) and can send requests to hosts.

In this community, it is understood that by traveling and using the services of “hosts”, when you return home, you will also help other travelers in your city on a pro bono basis.

Pros of Couchsurfing

Pros of Couchsurfing

  • There is no need to look for accommodation in a foreign city. When visiting an unfamiliar city, you will not be welcomed formally at the hotel reception, but by positive and open-minded people.
  • Often a room in a house or apartment is much cozier than a hotel room. There have been cases of travelers where free lodging was more comfortable and elegant than a room in a luxury hotel.
  • Meet new people.
  • New information about the city. In guidebooks and books you won’t know all the color that a new acquaintance will be able to show you.
  • Practical skills in communicating in a foreign language with a direct native speaker.

Cons of Couchsurfing

  • Some dependence on the “host”. No matter how interesting a person your new acquaintance may be, the use of hospitality is inevitably to the detriment of some of your freedoms. The traditions and personal habits of an essentially stranger should be considered. Especially difficult if the “host” is working and does not want to leave you the keys to the house, you have to leave with him in the morning and plan to return by the time work ends.
  • Time to find the “host. It takes time to find a useful and interesting person.
  • Mysterious Personality. Whatever the reviews on the site, there is a chance of encountering an inadequate person and not good accommodations.
  • Harassment. This problem concerns single girls traveling around the world. Read all reviews carefully and discard all suspicious options.

How and where to choose a host

In order to use this service, a traveler needs to register on the site (does not take much time and is free) and use the search (find the city you want to visit, the dates of the intended visit, write a little about yourself and the purpose of the trip).

How and where to choose a host

The site has the ability to apply a filter (for example, specify the age of the host and the languages spoken). After choosing a host you should send a personal request (Couch Request), where you should briefly describe yourself and the reason for your choice of this particular person.

Do not forget that the “hosts” are the same people as you, they also choose the future guest by their own criteria, so it is worth to interest the “host” so he chose you. Once approved, it’s a good idea to exchange phone numbers so you won’t have trouble finding an address in an unfamiliar city.

  • Number of reviews. According to the reviews you can sketch a general picture of the adequacy of the host and the quality of the accommodation provided. Recommended by verified “hosts”, with the number of reviews from 10 different travelers.
  • Age. The age of “hosts” is varied — from 18 to 70 years old. Since one- or peers have more common interests, it is better to opt for a host of the same age.
  • Language barrier. Here everything is clear — in order to facilitate communication it is necessary to find a common language.

How to host yourself

If you decide to become a “host” yourself, fill in the information in the settings that you provide accommodation and wait for requests from “surfers”, or you yourself can offer your help to a certain traveler. If you are ready to provide free help to “surfers” without providing lodging (showing the sights and just interesting places of your city), specify this information in the settings.

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