Couchsurfing is becoming a very popular way to travel at low cost, but you need to know how to use Couchsurfing to see the world. Since you are staying with strangers, there are obvious issues of safety, and if you or your host have a bad experience then you won’t engage in couchsurfing again. So here are some great tips on how to use Couchsurfing to see the world ...
The first tip on how to use Couchsurfing to see the world is to remember that your host is offering you, a complete stranger, free accommodation in their home. So it is polite and courteous to bring them a gift. This doesn’t have to be extravagant, but nor should it be obviously mean. Also offer to cook them a meal during your stay – they will appreciate the offer.
If you’re not comfortable staying with a single guy, then look for a female host. However, don’t assume that all guys are dangerous – some make fantastic hosts! Look carefully at their references. Also try to pick someone who has a similar profile to you – if you’re not a party person, you won’t enjoy staying with someone who has friends round every night until 4am.
Remember that you are not staying in a hotel, and your host is not being paid to pick up your dirty towels. So always respect your host’s home, clear up after yourself, and avoid causing them any bother. Don’t even think about turning up drunk, or taking your new “friend” who you just met in a bar back to your host’s home!
Even if you think that everything has been arranged, it’s possible that something will go wrong. Maybe on meeting your host you don’t feel comfortable, or they’re not there when you arrive. Always make sure you have backup accommodation and funds to pay for it – check out hotels and hostels in the area where you are planning to stay.
You may not hit it off particularly with your host, but do at least try to make friends with them. Make an effort to chat to them and ask questions about them, their interests and the city. Who knows, you may make a lifelong friend who will come to visit you! At the very least, it will make the Couchsurfing experience more enjoyable for all concerned.
As well as asking your host about themselves, do ask questions about the sights, restaurants and shops they recommend. Many people are only too pleased to tell you about their city, especially if they are a native. They might also give you a tour, which can show you a different side of the city than that which a tourist would see.
Even if your host doesn’t visit your city, do offer accommodation to others if you can. That is how Couchsurfing works, remember! If nobody offered a couch or bed, the whole scheme would fall apart. So providing you have space, do your share and be a host. You can meet people from all over the world, which is an enriching experience, and will make lots of contacts for your own travels.
Couchsurfing is not just a way of saving on expensive hotel bills, it’s a chance for people from different countries to meet. It’s important to do your best to show your appreciation for the hospitality you are receiving, and to ensure that both you and your host have a positive experience. At its best, Couchsurfing provides a way of experiencing a city that you won’t have if you stay in an anonymous hotel. Have you ever Couchsurfed, and was it memorable for all the wrong reasons?
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