So, you’ve made the decision that you want to join the couch surfing community – to travel, to share your own experiences and find new ones – and all off the back of your own adventurous spirit. But you’ll need a couch for the night and finding a reliable, appropriate host can be confusing, especially when you’re just starting out. So, to begin with, where are all these lovely hosts to be found?
Pleased To Meet You
Without a doubt, the original couch surfing website – www.couchsurfing.com – is your first port of call. Boasting more than ten million members in more than 200,000 cities, it really is the best place to go to find your first host. It takes just a couple of moments to register and once you are, you can begin to explore who, what and where is available. You can’t send a message or a request to a potential host until your profile is at least 50% complete, and you earn these percentage increases through connecting to Facebook, adding a photo, verifying your email and writing what’s known as a ‘profile essay,’ – your preferences, ambitions and interests. It also asks you what you can share, an ethos which is very much at the heart of couch surfing; while no money changes hands between host and surfer, life-skills, talents and generosity of spirit all very much do, so don’t be shy in boasting about what you can do well, whether it’s playing the guitar, cutting hair or cooking up a delicious meal from scratch.
When your profile is ready and you’ve decided where you’d like to go, this is when you can start approaching potential hosts, sending out a message which is also known as a ‘Couchrequest.’ www.couchsurfing.com recommend that you send out five of these to begin with and above all, make your message personal. There are few things ruder than a generic request, and by reading a potential host’s profile and then tailoring a message to suit, you’ll be showing that you’ve taken the time and consideration to find out about them – not just their couch! Remember, as a surfer, you’ll be fitting into the lives and homes of other people, so try to look for people whose worlds will compliment what you want to do and again, convey this in your Couchrequest.
When a potential host contacts you back, take time to read their message and make sure you’re comfortable with it. Don’t be shy to rely on your instincts if anything seems amiss and always read the reviews of fellow surfers who can vouch for the host. If time permits, it’s best to build up a rapport via message before committing to a booking. When you’ve made the arrangement, it’s also good practice to send a quick message a couple of days before you’re due to arrive – this acts as confirmation of the arrangement and any last minute details which need to be conveyed can be.
When you’re staying with them, remember to be clean, tidy and respectful. While it’s an informal set-up, the tenets of trust and respect are central to a successful couch surf, so keep your own space neat and adhere to any rules that there might be.
Do Come Again
Like all communities, word of mouth matters and as such, if you’ve had a great time with a host, do the decent thing and write a review saying as such. They can also leave you feedback, too, and the more positive it is, the easier couch surfing will become. Alternatively, if you’ve had a negative experience or have any serious concerns about your host, you can flag it up to the team at www.couchsurfing.com via a confidential link.
And that’s it – you’re done! You’ve found your couch surfing host and are setting out into a world of informal adventures hosted by fellow like-minded travellers. Happy couch surfing!