Couch Surfing is a global network of travelers who give up a space in their home, often a couch or a bed, in exchange for nothing more than conversation and the desire to meet someone new. It is 100% free to stay with anyone on the site. It is a great way to meet new people in foreign cities and instantly connect with a local. Often leading to a life long friend.
To us, the world is much smaller than people think. We value real-life experiences with strangers, who quickly become our friends. We believe that people who are different than us are good, trustworthy and inspiring. And every day we’re sharing our cultures, hospitality and adventures with each other – whether we’re on the road or in our hometowns.
How Does it Work?
Once you have created a profile you can start searching for places to stay in cities all over the world. You simply search for someone offering a couch to sleep on asking nothing in return. Some people might be offering a couch or simply might only be available to meet for coffee. Even if you do not need or want to stay with someone meeting up for coffee is a great way to meet new people and ask advice about their favorite places in the city.
Above is an example from a search for a couch for Dubai. There were thousands of results but you can filter them on the left by age, gender, and other advance options. On each profile you can see if they are hosting a couch, their reply rate, photos, and whether or not they are verified (more on that later).
Key Things to Look For Couchsurfing
The more details about the person the better. Look for the languages they speak to be sure you are able to communicate. Many people will have more than simply a couch and can offer a spare bedroom. You will find some people can host multiple travelers, couples, or only accept one gender.
Some hosts will be able act as tour guides while others simply offer a couch. It varies greatly but reading reviews is the best way to figure out who you would be compatible with. After all you are picking a roommate for a few days.
If you are looking for someone who can show you around be sure to ask before you commit. If you want someone to grab a drink be sure they can go out on the nights you are there. Remember, they are welcoming you into their homes so be respectful of their daily lives.
Is Couchsurfing Safe?
Safety is a top priority when couch surfing. Their safety section outlines what they do to keep the surfers and hosts safe.
The first thing to do is create a detailed profile for others to read about you and expect the very same from others. The more you read about someone before requesting a couch the better. Often hosts will even link to their facebook profile which is another great way to verify them and instantly connect.
References are the best way to read about feedback from those who know the host and those who have stayed with them. This is key to requesting a couch and I wouldn’t request a couch from someone who has never hosted.
Verification is the next thing to look for. Users must submit their address, wait for a postcard, and enter the verification code provided on it which proves they live where they have listed their home. It is a good idea for surfers to do this as well because it adds another element of trust.
Vouching allows members to designate Couch Surfers they find exceptionally trustworthy. Read about those who have stayed with and met your potential surfer or host.
Using all four of the safety methods above is the best way to have a positive couch surfing experience. When traveling alone this becomes even more important. Learn more about Couch Surfing safety in the safety section.
How Do You Get started?
When you sign-up for Couch Surfing you create a profile where you will tell potential hosts and surfers who you are as a person, traveler, and other interests. Be sure to be as detailed as possible and upload photos. This is another element that helps to build trust.
Get verified as soon as possible by following the necessary steps listed above. If you are brand new to couch surfing ask a friend to recommend you. It is not necessary to have stayed with that person because any traveler can vouch for you as a good couch surfer.
Next start surfing for couches. You have to try it at least once and then you will probably be hooked.
What Else Can Couch Surfing Offer?
If hosting a stranger is not your thing and you prefer hostels over couches that is ok. Couch Surfing offer more than just places to stay. There are groups and local activities from every city. Find parties, get-togethers, activities, and a lot more. It is a great way to meet more travelers.
Another great use for Couch Surfing is to simply grab a cup of coffee. As a host you can choose to offer to “get coffee” if you cannot offer a couch. This is a nice way to meet people traveling through your city and a great way to meet locals during your travels.
Check out Couch Surfing. Be safe and smart and have fun. The best part is you never know what you are going to find. The next place I want to surf is this cave in Southern Jordan. That has to be the coolest thing about surfing because you never know what you will find or who you will meet. From sleeping on a cave to meeting a life long friend Couch Surfing is going to add to your travel experience.
Tips for Couch Surfing
- Safety is most important. Only stay with verified and members who have been vouched for
- Travel with a friend when possible but traveling solo is wonderful just be more cautious
- Be polite, clean, and respectful of your host and their home
- Offer to take your host out for a beer or coffee after all you are getting a free place to stay
- Recommend and vouch for others to keep the community safe
- Don’t be afraid to try it for the first time!
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Here is a video from Couch Surfing if you still can’t decide: