When it comes to Couchsurfing, there are lots of myths and misconceptions involved. There are also some aspects that you need to keep in mind in order to make a good surfer. A good relationship with your host is in both party’s best interest. Couchsurfing is more than just free accommodation, it’s about making new friends and having a good time. Here are 9 things you must know about Couchsurfing:
9. It’s Free, But Lunch Is On You!
Couchsurfing is a free service, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be forking out any cash during your stay. Opening your home to fellow travelers for gratis is a huge gesture. It’s advised you find a way to repay this kindness, but this doesn’t mean directly exchanging money. Buying your host a meal, some drinks and a small welcoming / parting gift goes a long way. If something in your host’s house is broken or not working, buying them this gift (if affordable) is always highly appreciated. It’s also advised not to mention to your host that you are only Couchsurfing to save money. Couchsurfing is about meeting new people, enjoying the company of others, experiencing a new place, local customs, traditions, the list goes on and on. Your host see’s the value in YOU, so you should see the value in your HOST. Money can’t always buy these experiences, so your primary motive shouldn’t be about saving money.
8. It Means Sharing
Your host is interested in your story, which means you have to tell it! Couchsurfing means telling stories and sharing moments and hopefully creating some new ones! The host usually takes their guests out to show them the city and the main attractions. The beauty of Couchsurfing is that you can make new friends whilst visiting hidden places and living like a local.
7. It’s Not A Hotel
Some surfers think that Couchsurfing is another word for low-cost hotel. Actually, it is more than that. Although you are not forced to, it is advised to spend a reasonable amount of time with your host. It is not okay to come back in the middle of the night and expect them to open the door! You also need to be mindful of the hours your host works and when they are occupied. If you get this information early it makes your stay more flexible, so it’s a good idea to run through these things when you arrive. Some hosts are happy for you to have a key whilst others aren’t. It’s the same with the idea of you bringing guest’s / friends / people you meet back to their place. Be courteous at all times and if you are unsure of something, ask your host.
6. There May Be Other Guests
Your host may have other people staying over too. If your host has the capacity for multiple groups of couch surfers, it can truly amplify your experience. Embrace the ‘more the merrier’ notion, as you will make new friends and you can explore the place you’re visiting together.
5. Help Your Host
You always have to keep in mind that you’re not staying at a hotel, so it’s a must that you clean up after yourself and pitch in where you can. You can help your host with the dishes, cooking and other chores. The host helps you in cutting your travel expenses, so you should pay it forward by helping them around the house. Nobody appreciates a surfer that leaves a ton of things to clean. A nice gesture is to cook your host a traditional meal from your place origin. The host may well do the same for you. You will be highly appreciated 🙂
4. Respect Your Host
Your host will understand if you want to go downtown to party. He/she will understand if you sometimes you come home late. But you have to keep in mind that most of the time your host has also a job and may need to wake up early in the morning. So even if you come home at late hours, respect your host’s sleep. Also, do not put him/her in uncomfortable situations. One host shared an awkward situation where the surfer came home drunk after a party and and passed out on the couch naked! This is a situation that it is uncomfortable for both parties!
3. Rate Your Host
Couchsurfing works as well as it does because it relies on a ratings based system. A good host will receive good feedback from its surfers, so other people will trust the host. The same thing applies for surfers. If he/she receives bad feedback, it will deter future hosts. Please remember to rate your host with a certain degree of respect. You can’t expect the same level of cleanliness or service as a hotel, so be considerate with your ratings.
2. Respect Your Host’s Privacy
There are situations when surfers are left alone in their host’s house. The host has to trust you enough to leave you home alone. This does not give you the right to look through your host’s things. If your host does leave you alone at their place, you should clean up or buy them something to come home to as a way to gain their trust.
1. Pay It Forward
If your experience as a couch surfer is a positive one, you should extend the offer to your host – that you are willing to house them if / when they visit your country / city. Couchsurfing is all about reciprocation. It is only right that you offer to return the favour for your host’s generosity. Generally on Couchsurfing, users surf before they host. It’s usually only when they see how beneficial the experience is that they choose to open their home to surfer’s after their travels.
Couchsurfing is far more than just saving money on travel expenses. You should always remember to respect your host, along with local customs and traditions. In many cases, Couchsurfing hosts and surfers turn into life long friends – which enables you to have a network of pals across the globe 🙂