How to Couchsurf Like a Pro

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CouchSurfing is a global phenomenon that relies on the good nature of local people to provide a couch for travelers to sleep on free of charge.

With over one million members across 240 countries and 79,000 cities, it’s fair to say that if you know what you’re doing there’s a chance you’ll never have to pay for accommodation again!

For more information on what CouchSurfing is, check out this page titled What is CouchSurfing?

Like most things in life, there’s a skill to CouchSurfing, and the better you are at it the more couches you’ll be invited to sleep on. But what makes a CouchSurfing expert, and what things can you do to improve your chances of finding a place to stay?

Create a Solid Profile

Despite having made potentially dozens of internet profiles (from Facebook to Myspace) most internet users still have no idea what’s good to put in a profile and what details should be left out.

CouchsurfingLuckily, CouchSurfing profiles don’t go too deep, but there’s still plenty of room to express yourself and your personality.

They key here, above all, is to be genuine. Don’t try to appear to be genuine. Actually BE genuine and honest whilst attempting to paint yourself in the best light.

Make sure to add multiple pictures to your profile – preferably ones of you traveling and having fun with friends.

Having a face to put a name to will make you seem a million times more ‘real’ to any prospective host, and will improve your chances ten-fold.

Include References Whenever Possible

One of the fundamentals that makes so popular is that it relies heavily on the references of past CouchSurfers (or CouchSurfees) to vouch for you (i.e. letting others know that you’re not some crazy weirdo).

Anyone that you’ve stayed with, hosted or simply met up with can write an extensive reference on you, letting other members know what you’re about.

Obviously you can’t (and shouldn’t) fake references (and you don’t really need to, in truth), but having a long list of positive references will certainly help you out.

Don’t Send Out Mass Requests

For first timers, it can be tempting to send requests out to every CouchSurfing host in the area you’re going to.

While there’s nothing wrong with sending out lots of requests, the problem with sending out so many is that after a while they tend to become generic and spammy (to the point where you’re copying and pasting the entire message).

GdanskBefore sending out a request, make sure to read the host’s profile in full, as this’ll give you a starting point for the message.

Some hosts will actually ask you to copy something they’ve written in their profile – just to make sure you’ve read it through.

If you’ve got anything in common, make sure to mention it in your email and let them know why you’d like to stay at their place.

Also, be sure to check over any references they’ve got from other members, as you want to make sure you’re walking into a safe environment.

Lastly, if you’re allergic to certain pets (e.g. cats) than make sure to read through the ‘housing conditions’ part which will highlight whether they have any or not.

Always Show Your Gratitude

While CouchSurfing hosts don’t expect anything in return for letting you stay at their place, showing them some gratitude for their efforts is always nice, and will virtually guarantee you a positive reference.

You don’t have to spend money on them (although a bottle of wine goes a long way) – you could offer to do some chores for them or offer to cook them a meal one night.

In addition to this, remember that you’re their guest and that you should be respectful of their home. Try to keep you belongings as tidy as possible and clean up any messes you make.

Remember – ISN’T a dating site

Sure, you might be browsing the list of potential hosts and see someone that takes you fancy, but remember that this person has kindly offered their couch not in an attempt to lure you in as prey, but so that kind travelers can have a place to stay for free.

As one member put it: “CouchSurfing is a hospitality site, NOT a dating site!”

Although CouchSurfing romances certainly can happen, don’t make this your first thought when looking for a place to stay.

Always Have a Backup Plan

Even the most experienced CouchSurfers don’t always find a place to stay, so in cases such as these it’s important to have a backup plan.

Even if you do have a place to stay, there’s always the chance that the host will cancel on you (for whatever reason), so it’s good to keep an alternative accommodation in mind until you’ve actually sat down on their couch.

A ‘backup’ might be another person’s couch or a cheap hotel/hostel. While it’s good to have backup couches to stay on, don’t mess people around by double-booking yourself and agreeing to stay on multiple couches at once.

Related posts:

  1. What is CouchSurfing?

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