What is it
Couchsurfing is a community that bring people from all over the world together. Wether stay with locals in their home when you visit their city, meet up with other travelers and couch surfers in your town, or offer your couch to people traveling through your city. There are 9 million members in more than 120.000 cities all around the world. It is completely free.
The people you meet leave you references, and you leave them references. This is a good way to keep it safe. If someone gives you a bad reference, you can’t hide it on your profile. This has saved me from sending requests to people after seeing that they might have been disrespectful or just used this to get sex.
Obviously, the more references you have(good ones), the easier it is for you to get a place to stay.
How does it work
You start by setting up a profile. Because it might be hard getting started without any references or friends on the community, you could go to some couchsurfing events to get to know some people and to get some references.
I started by hosting and going to a few events, so I had around 10 references before I myself started to surf.
When you surf
If you are going to a city, you just click on “surf” and you search for hosts available in the city that you are going to. When you find one or more people that you would like to meet and get to know, and stay with – you send them a request, telling them what your plans are in the city and why you would like to stay with them.
If they can, and want to, host you – they accept.
When you host
When you get a request from someone who’s traveling to your city, you only have to accept if you want that person/persons to come and stay with you. And of course, you read through their profiles and references if it feels right.
My tip is not to invite them directly to your place, but to meet them somewhere in public first, to see that everything is alright and that it feels right.
Although, I have to say that it is very safe. I have never had a situation that I did not feel safe.
I started out by hosting the day after I signed up, and not only one, but two surfers(that didn’t know each other) at the same time. This, I have to say, was my best CS experience yet!
One of them was from Australia and had been traveling the world for 3 years, so he was a pro at couchsurfing and had all the answers to my questions about it. We actually just met to go out for drinks with my friends, but since he didn’t get along with his host, and we clicked instantly, I invited him to stay with me instead.
The other guy was from Argentina, and he had, just like me, just joined couchsurfing and had no experience. He had gone to Gothenburg to kayak. In October! Do you know how cold it is in Sweden in October? This guy was awesome.
We had so much fun! They surprised me with dinner the first night, before we went out for beer, live music and some dancing.
The next day, I also invited two exchange student for dinner. One girl from Australia, and one girl from Argentina! Complete coincidence 😉 I made my four guests meatballs with mashed potatoes, lingonberries and brown sauce. Of course.
Once, I got a request by 5 exchange students in Uppsala, who were going down to my city for a few days. I should probably mention that I live in a studio apartment. But hey, why not? I made it happen. I borrowed two inflatable double mattreses, and I already had a couch.
I have hosted maybe 15-17 people, and some of them I still keep in touch with. I’ve met people who have inspired me and I have gotten some friends for life.
Surfing has also been amazing most of the time. Spending time with locals usually gives you the best experiences, since you get the best tips on what to see and where to go, and also because you feel so welcome and people are awesome.