CC @ Viaggio Routard
Most travelers in 2015 know about Couchsurfing. But for those of you out there who still think B&Bs or hotels are the only way to go, let me enlighten you. CouchSurfing is a global online program, where you steal people’s couching and go surfing in the ocean with them….Just kidding. CouchSurfing is indeed a global website, where people all over the world offer up their couch (or bed, floor, air mattress,etc.) to a traveler passing through. It could be one night, a week, three weeks. It all depends on what the host is willing to offer.
Joining is free, though if you want to get verified there’s a small fee (about five dollars I believe). It’s worth it, as this verification certifies that you are who you say you are, and live where you say you live. I personally never look at staying with or hosting someone who isn’t verified. Having a profile means you can both look for people to stay with, and list your couch as available, or not.
Q: Isn’t staying with strangers dangerous?
A: No more than anything you do whilst traveling. I have stayed with about eight or so different hosts, and at this point hosted twenty to thirty people. I have never felt unsafe.
Q: So, it’s always been perfect?
A: The truth? No, it hasn’t. But it’s been very good 99% of the time. I have only had two bad experiences. One was hosting, and it was a young man who was creepy and off putting and who seemed like he might rob us. The other experience was with a host in Zurich, who was very immature, wasn’t very honest about what she was like, and wasn’t much fun.
Q: If there’s people out there like that, why would I do this?
A: Because the rewards FAR outweigh the few exceptions. Staying in someone’s house is totally different from staying in a hotel or hostel. You can experience that person’s cooking, their culture, their ideas, you get to show them around your home area, and of course, it’s a free place to stay when someone hosts you.
Remember: Free does NOT mean free hotel. Do NOT join CouchSurfing if you want to treat it like your private little home. You are staying in someone else’s home, you are in their comfortable space. Common courtesy is key. Don’t be the reason someone never hosts again. CouchSurfing is all about sharing culture, making friends, making it an enjoyable experience for both parties.
CouchSurfing can be an amazing experience and opportunity. Be smart, but be willing to be open. Make friends, join communities. Have fun!