Some time in the last two years, one of my closest friends introduced me to the idea of CouchSurfing. No, it doesn’t having anything to do with riding the waves, but it does present travelers the opportunity for immersive travel and free accommodation.
So what is CouchSurfing all about?
CouchSurfing is an arrangement whereby you can offer part of your home – a bedroom or, literally, a couch – to other CouchSurfers. In return, you can also seek out CouchSurfers in your destination when it is your turn to travel.
Advantages of CouchSurfing
Perhaps the advantage that stands out the most is the fact that CouchSurfers do not have to pay for their lodging. For as long as their host can accommodate them, they have a roof above their heads. More than making some savings, however, CouchSurfing provides a great venue to make friends from all over the world. Generally speaking, those involved in CouchSurfing are passionate about travel and meeting new people. You also get the chance to live like a local, as opposed to staying in a tourist hotel. More so, your host will probably take you around to experience the city/town just as a resident would.
The Importance of Rating
CouchSurfing successfully operates on the basis of CouchSurfers and hosts rating each other. As you can easily surmise, safety is of prime importance in this set up. In CouchSurfing communities, high priority is placed on the ratings of hosts and guests. Of course, things are based on honesty and candidness. With everyone cooperating, CouchSurfing can continue to be a safe adventure.
Know Your Host
Of course, you can only really know your host when you meet face to face. What I mean by knowing your host is checking the ratings AND corresponding before your trip. This works not only for safety issues, but also to make sure that you know what your host expects. Some hosts are busy and merely offer a place to stay, without committing to be a tour guide as well. Others may have more flexible schedules and may want to accompany you as you tour the area. Knowing your host’s expectations and having your host know your expectations will avoid awkward issues during your trip.
Be Active in the Community
What I mean by this is that you actually participate in conversations in the forums, even if you are not in need of a host at the moment. You are not required to always offer your couch to other travelers, but it is courteous to put up a guest every now and then. After all, it is not only about taking, but also sharing. Most local CouchSurfing communities meet up once in a while to get to know each other. Try making time for at least one of these activities as well. This will not only be a good way to meet new people, but it will also make sure that the community knows you as a real person and not just someone online.
Have you CouchSurfed before? Share your experience in the comments…