Chances are if you have done some budget travel you will at least have heard of Couchsurfing, if not tried it. But with a community so far of just 5 million people worldwide it seems likely that there are still a lot of travellers missing out on the valuable experiences and cost cutting benefits that Couchsurfing offers.
So What is couchsurfing? And why should you do it?
Couchsurfing has hosts and surfers, of which you can be either or both! Hosts offer up a room, couch, floor space, bathtub… it varies, but they will state on their profile what sort of sleeping space is available and whether it is private or in a shared space.
Surfers apply to hosts directly or put out an advert looking for a place to stay. Importantly, the accommodation is always free. This is one of the fundamental principles of Couchsurfing, that said, bringing a gift, cooking dinner for your host, or providing some wine or beer is part of the unwritten code that makes you a better surfer.
The other fundamental principle is about cultural exchange. Getting to know the locals by staying with them is about as grass roots as you can get in terms of “real” travel experience. Learn some local language, get some non-touristy travel tips for the local area, enjoy a home cooked meal of local food. Its all possible when couchsurfing! Their website statement sums it up: “Our Mission is simple: Create inspiring experiences.”
Want to be awesome at Couchsurfing?
Ok, so now you know what CS is you need to get good at it to get the most out of it! We’ve put together a guide to becoming a successful couchsurfer, and just like Couchsurfing itself, its $FREE! One of the only real negatives we have found about the couchsurfing site is that as it offers free accommodation and anyone can sign up, a lot of members have no idea how to be a good surfer or what the community is all about – they just want to travel for free. If you are new to CS or if you have sent loads of requests to hosts and normally get negative responses, you need to read our guide.
- The importance of an awesome profile
- How to get people to respond positively to your couch requests
- How to have a better experience overall: Find hosts with similar interests
- About getting Verified/Vouched
- And much more!
Still not sure about couchsurfing?
We’ve been mostly hosting over the last year whilst living/working in Australia, and occasionally we like to interview some of our surfers if they have useful budget tips or travel stories that will go well on our blog. We’ve setup a new section of our website devoted to the people we meet through Couchsurfing. So why not read some of the real experiences of the sort of people you can meet on Couchsurfing.
Now… get Couchsurfing!