A guide to Couch Surfing
In times where we’re all counting our pennies and filling our supermarket baskets full of own brand food, the idea of going away on holiday might seem laughable. But what if I told you there’s an easy way of not only travelling the world for a fraction of the price, but also making a load of new friends without leaving your own town? I’m talking about CouchSurfing.
I’ve been part of the CouchSurfing world for a few years now and in my time I’ve met a crap magician, gone on a picnic with a cute Frenchman who couldn’t understand my accent for the entire day, spent a few nights in Edinburgh during the festival for free, and partied with two girls who shared the same German name…which after knowing them for two years I still have no idea how to pronounce.
You may have already heard of this phenomenon as it’s been popular around the world for many years now, but for the un-informed or confused (like I was when I first heard about it), let me explain, for not only has it changed my life, but it could change yours too.
CouchSurfing started off as a website where you either offer your home for people to stay (for free) in your spare bed/sofa/whatever you have, or you ask for people to put you up (again, for free) in whatever area you’re planning to visit.
If you don’t fancy hosting anyone or being hosted yourself, the good news is you can still get involved by just going along to meet-ups, which are an absolute god-send if you’re new to an area. Best of all, you don’t have to do any of the organising, which is great for incredibly lazy people like me.
Members frequently organise their own events, from cinema trips and picnics, to massive nights out full of people you’ve never met before, and you never know, next time you go travelling they could be hosting you!
Interested in CouchSurfing next time you go travelling? Here are some handy dos and don’ts for newbies.
Do plan ahead – don’t turn up to your destination on the day and assume a host will immediately put you up. Just like you’ve got your own life, so do the hosts.
Do make the most of your host’s knowledge - our host has experienced parts of their country that the tourist guides won’t take you to…probably because they don’t know about it themselves. Ask hosts where’s good to visit, the best place to eat and where you can drink till you fall over.
Do couch surf as much as possible – your first few are always scary, and without doubt you should always try and go with a friend or stay with hosts of the same sex until you get used to it. But like most things in life, the more you do the better you’ll get.
Don’t assume your host will feed you - you aren’t their pet cat, so don’t expect to be fed by your host. Although many will be happy to give you food upon arrival, if you’re staying for longer than one night, don’t assume it’ll be a regular occurrence.
Don’t be a freeloader - nobody likes a cheapskate, and yes it’s nice to have a free bed but don’t forget the manners that your parents taught you. Thank you can go a long way, as do washing the dishes, leaving some flowers, bringing wine, and offering to take them for dinner.
Don’t bring anyone unplanned – you wouldn’t want a large group of people unexpectedly turning up at your house (unless it’s a kick-ass party), and neither will your host. Just because you met a hottie at the train station, doesn’t mean you can bring them back.
Have you ever surfed the couches of the world? Are you tempted?