You now know CouchSurfing is a great way for those traveling on a tight budget to extend their funds a bit longer. Here’s my “HOW TO” Guide to getting the most out of CouchSurfing.org:
- Sign up for an account: Use your real name or something close
- Fill out your profile: BE PERSONAL. Remember people ARE going to be reading this. You don’t need an autobiography but enough to paint a picture
- Put up a picture: Use a nice one of yourself. Maybe a travel photo or something cool you’ve seen. The more, the better.
- Get a reference. This is probably one of the most important things about CS. You need somebody to write some nice words about you. It can be difficult but it should be. It is the weeding out process so that people know you’re a decent person. Best advice I can give is to search for surfing groups in your area and check out a meeting. They usually happen at local bars and it’s the best way to meet surfers in your area. Maybe they will be willing. Or do what we did and just talk to as many travelers as you can while abroad and you might run into one of us who’s willing to give a reference (provided that we like you lol).
- Couch Searching: This is all personal preference. There is quite an extensive selection criteria that you can shape and shift to meet your needs. My advice is to play around with this. A good tool to use is the reply percentage. If a person has 100% thats obviously the best, if it is somewhere below 50% maybe don’t bother with sending a request BUT you never know. Another useful bit of advice is when searching in major cities like Barcelona, try the surrounding towns connected by public transport. Reason being, in peak travel season hosts can get overwhelmed with requests in popular areas.
- Sending requests: There is nothing hosts hate more that to recieve an impersonal, copy & paste request. Some hosts recieve multiple PER DAY, especially in high demand areas. ACTUALLY READ their profile, can’t stress that enough. Include your travel plans and ask them nicely.
- Be respectful. Most people don’t have any trouble with this. As long as you have some sense about you and your not eating all their food and being messy you should be good.
CouchSurfers have one thing in common — travel. However, there are surfers who take this project more seriously than others and this is important for you to understand. Take this into consideration when sending requests and reading profiles. This is not only just a social network but it has developed into a subculture. There is even a higherarchy. You will notice some surfers have an “ambassedor” status which basically means they have been surfing and hosting a LONG time and they are one of those serious folks I mentioned earlier.
My girlfriend and I have surfed over 30 couches in over 20 countries in our year long backpacking trip around the world! I could write on and on about CS, but in the interest of time and space I’ll cut the post here. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to post them in the comments. I’m a major advocate of the project and willing to help out any potential surfer the best I can.