How to Couchsurf Like a Boss
To many people think the idea of sleeping on stranger's couches seems super unsafe and way too risky. But couchsurfing.com has really changed the game when it comes to finding free places to stay, meeting locals and doing it all confidently. Below are my top tips on how I get hosted, get along with my hosts and feel safe and confident while doing it. Yes, even solo!
1. Getting Hosted. Getting hosted is step one, so having a profile that displays a clear message of who you are, why you are couchsurfing, what you are interested in and what you can offer to your hosts is important. I try to use photos of me that are clear, show my face and show me doing things I like to do. Fill out your profile completely and if you have the money, verify your account. The more your account looks like you are taking it seriously, the easier time you will have getting hosted.
After your profile is looking all magic and rainbows, it's time to start getting hosted! First, you can create a public trip and if people want to host you or just hangout with you, they will see your post in a public forum and can message you from there. I usually always create a public trip although the likelihood of getting hosted this way is slim. After you create a public trip, it's time to message hosts privately.
Before I message hosts I ALWAYS read their reviews. I do not stay with people that do not have clear photos of their face (more than two) and who have any negative reviews. Even if someone has one review of them being creepy, I do not stay with them.
Yes, this part takes time but it is worth it because you are not paying for accommodations. An hour or two of work for a free place to stay makes sense. Many people will write a general message and send it out to heaps of hosts. In my experience, this rarely works. I always read the hosts profile and mention details specific to them so they know I took the time to read about them and that I really care.
2. When I do get hosted their are a few unspoken rules that I follow.
First, bring them a gift! It doesn't have to be anything expensive. Beer, liquor or wine are great options or a cool souvenir that you picked up in your last travel destination. Just something that says, hey I appreciate what you're doing for me. This starts you off on a good note, especially if you are staying multiple days.
Second, do not treat your host's home as a hotel. If you want to leave your shit all over the floor, have dirty dishes and come and go anytime of the day or night, stay in a fucking hotel. Most hosts are very generous but it's common curtesy.
The night before I leave, I like to write my host a note to tell them how much I appreciated them opening their home to me. I usually write it on a post card from the last country I traveled in. It's something they can hold onto if they like and it shows care and attention to detail.
3. Staying Safe.
I have never had a bad couchsurfing experience although I do take precautions to give me peace of mind. I've mentioned it before but always read the host's reviews. Always. If there is ever something written that I don't like, I don't stay with them. If they don't have any reviews, I typically steer clear as well.
Once it's time to meet up with a host, I try and meet them in a public place. Especially if I am solo surfing. It just gives me peace of mind that if I meet them and I don't like the vibe, I can leave and go somewhere else. If there is ever an option to stay with a female, I will.
I would like to reiterate that I have never had a bad couchsurfing experience although it is important to be safe when doing this. I have had amazing hosts and am so grateful for all their generosity.