When I first came to know about couchsurfing, I was like “This is a too good idea to be true”. The concept was introduced to me as something which would let you stay anywhere in the world for free! Without doubt, I knew it was one of the too good to be true offers. There must be some catch!
But when I started to know more about it, when I finally understood what really couchsurfing is, when I started to get involved in it, I was blown away, because like I said it was too good to be true, and In fact it is TRUE!!
Don’t get the idea that it is a way of finding a cheaper stay while you are travelling. Couchsurfing is more than that.
Couch surfing is about
- being kind and trusting people blindly
- love and universal brotherhood (or sisterhood, but you get the point)
- exchanging of cultures and making new friends
- meeting interesting people and creating connections;
- being a better person and making this world a better place to live in.
It seems I cannot stop telling you about this truly amazing concept. So I will be constantly doing Couch surfing trips and write about them here.
What is Couch Surfing?
Couchsurfing is a service that connects members to a global community of travellers. Use Couchsurfing to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travellers.
Basically Couchsurfing is a social networking website. The members of the site are known as couch surfers or CSers. Couch surfers are travellers who are either searching for a couch or offering a couch. So there are two types of people, a host and a surfer and they are connected through a this website.
What is a Couch ?
Couch is what the host offers to the surfer. It can be the host’s spare room, sleeping bag, outhouse, tree house, a palace, a boat or just the couch in the living room.
How Couch Surfing Works?
- Register yourself at www.CouchSurfing.com
- Plan your travel, find a host in that place
- Request him/her for a couch
- Wait for a response
- If he/she accepts visit the place and enjoy your stay
- Make sure to come back home 😉
Q. Is it that simple??
A. Almost yes
Q. What do you mean by almost yes??
- first you need to build a reputation in the community and prove that you are not an axe murderer and are safe to be hosted.
- The host might be busy with his/her life, and might not respond within the time.
- Might not find an active CSer in all areas.
- Or at times you or the request you sent them might not me interesting from the host’s point of view.
Q. How do you build a reputation?
A. Apart from hosting and surfing, Couchsurfing websites allows people to organise CS meet-up locally and also Couchsurfing version of Hangouts. Find your local page, join some meet ups, hangouts or group activities, get to know the experienced CSers and build your reputation. And it doesn’t happen overnight!! Or start with hosting. Open your home for the active couchsurfers and get involved.
Q. Am I obliged to host/surf?
A. You are not obliged to do anything. If you are the host, you are the boss, you make your house rules and you have the right to accept or reject a couch request. You can tell the surfer your house rules that they are expected to follow during their stay. And as a surfer you are not obliged to stay in a hosts place, if you are feeling uncomfortable at any point of time. But as long as you are staying at a host’s place, you are expected to follow the rules set by the host.
Q. Isn’t it dangerous to let a stranger to stay in one’s house?
A. It can be dangerous, if there wasn’t the reference system. Couch surfing mainly works on a reference system. Getting positive reference is what is meant by building up of reputation. The reference once written can not be deleted or edited from your profile. So if you misbehave or done something bad, it will get reflected in your profile and stays there forever as long as you are using CS. So from other people’s opinion and by using one’s own judgment, one has to decide if the surfer/host is safe or not.
(But believe me, CSers are the best people in this world, I personally believe. Whoever I have met through CS are amazing, kind and interesting. But like in any case there can be exceptions. Choose wisely, use your common sense, trust your instincts, and you will have a great time Couch surfing )
Q. As a surfer How much am I expected to pay the host?
A. You are NOT expected to pay anything. Will you pay your good friend for staying at his/her home?!
Q. You must be kidding!!?
A. No, you are not expected to pay anything. That is why I said it sounded like a too good to be true marketing offers! But then you are expected not to be a burden on the host. You should be remembering all the time that you are at the host’s house, not in your own home and act accordingly while using any facilities. Though you are not expected, it’s always good to go to someone’s home with some gifts. Its a good practice to replace what you have used! Or at least keep the place better than you’ve found it.
Q. Is that all?
A. Not really, Couch surfing is much more amazing than this. Its all about cultural exchange, paying it forward, spreading the kindness and so on. So just register, experience it, get addicted to it, spread the love, be a better person, surf at some nearby couch, host someone, attend some CS meet, travel more, live more, because To Travel Is To Live!
Once again. Here is the link, if you feel like checking it out. If you have any questions, ask. Anyway I will be writing more about couchsurfing . And will make you all a Couchsurfer 😀
And let me remind you that please do not consider couchsurfing just as a free accommodation facility!
Do share your thoughts on this concept? Are you going to try it?