Shanda Kopp, our
As a struggling student and all-round cheapskate, I have to admit that Couchsurfing is an appealing concept. Be it through their wonderful website or others like it, the notion of a free place to stay and a local to show you around simply cannot be beat. For this Travel Tip Tuesday, however, I decided to give you a break from my advice, and instead asked my flatmate, Luise, for her Couchsurfing tips. Without further ado, here they are, with my rambling in between, I just can’t help it:
- Opt for Couchsurfing hosts with reviews.
This one is important. Reviews exist on the site for a reason, and can help you avoid any blunders. However, go for quality over quantity, people with only one or two (good) reviews can be absolutely fantastic, whereas some with fifty can turn out to be creeps. Read those reviews, really.
- Trust your gut.
If someone offers you a couch and you’re not keen on it, don’t accept. By trusting your intuition, you can prevent a negative experience. After all , wouldn’t you rather say no over the internet than face to face? If you are unsure, stay somewhere else but suggest meeting for coffee.
- Look for similar or completely different interests/hobbies and mention them in your request.
Although you will probably get along with someone who has similar interests, choosing a host with differing interests might result in more of an adventure. Bringing you out of your comfort zone, they could take you to unique places, or teach you new things.
- Tell the person what you can bring to the table.
It is important to remember that Couchsurfing is a two-way street. Not only do you check out their profile and offerings before staying with them, but they do the same to you. Make sure to mention in your profile or personal message what you can offer them. If you’re a great cook, try that, or maybe you can teach them a new language or instrument.
- Leave if you’re not comfortable, but be open to step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t judge your host.
If you’re getting really bad vibes, just pick up and go. No one will blame you, and your safety is paramount. However, if you’re annoyed by their late nights or banjo playing, why don’t you try their way for a night or two? You might learn something.
- Do not mistake Couchsurfing for a free hostel.
This speaks for itself, you are dealing with real people and their very personal homes. Remember this, and you’ll be set!
- Bring a present.
While not essential, this can be a great way to show a host you appreciate what they’re doing for you. It can also be a great way to teach people about the place you come from. Personally, I have opted for postcards from home or maple candies; something small can go a long way. Think of what you’d like to receive if you were them or, if you can’t afford to sacrifice the luggage space, take them out for dinner!
- Most importantly, have fun!
Featured image: Shanda Kopp