You know what is Couchsurfing, right? I’m gonna tell you all that clichés bullshit like
“I like to travel so much. And CS is so awesome because I can meet new, open-minded people and interesting cultures and blablablablablablabalnlab”.
Naah… You know that. Everyone knows that. And everybody knows it is bullshit.
Now I will tell you my point of view about CS. What I’ve learned through all my surfing and hosting experiences. (by the way it’s not just my opinion: actually, right now I have a guest from Canada, and we are writing this blog post together. Huuuuge thanks for his help.♡♡)
here's what you can read about:
Couchsurfing operates as a hospitality and social networking service. It was originally a non-profit organization, but in 2011 became a for-profit corporation.
Basically, you sign in and you can offer your available bed/couch (if you have one) to someone who wants it. And vice-versa: when you travel, you can ask people if they have an extra place where you could sleep.
Fun fact: in January 2018 they had 15 000 000 members, including (just) 400,000 active hosts.
Now it offers some extra possibilities, it’s not just about finding and offering accommodation. They are organising CS events, they have a section where you can find the locals’ advice and groups as well.
For a better summary, check out this video from Couchsurfing’s YouTube Channel:
First things first, let’s see the PROS
- Usually, somebody’s home is more comfortable than hostels. If you’re on a low budget trip and you have to choose between a low-cost accommodation and CS, go with CS. Just think about it: a home is made for people’s comfort not for peoples’ money.
- You can get outside of the “traveller bubble”. Yeah, travelling is fun and it feels good, but from some point of view, it gives you barriers. Once you find yourself hanging out with other travellers it’s very difficult to bust into the local scene. And CS helps you overcome this issue by providing a lead into the life of a local.
- You’re going to see the part of the world that isn’t made for tourists. When we were in Utrecht (in the Netherlands) we had a wonderful host that had two bikes and we (the three of us) went all around with the bike. It was one of my favourite travel experiences.
- It feels really good to have a local trust you. You feel welcome. While travelling, particularly while travelling alone, it can be difficult psychologically to constantly be around strangers. To have one of these strangers trust you right off the bat and welcome you to their home is a massive morale booster. Honestly, it just feels good to have somebody trust you while on the other side of the world.
- You meet like-minded people. Only certain people find CS appealing and, maybe, you’re one of those people. If so, you have 400 000 free-spirited hosts around the world that share your desire for comradery.
- (this is not just about CS) You realise that the same shit happens everywhere. For example, we wanted to watch a movie together with my host and his family. When we started it, suddenly everyone had something to do: to get a glass of water, to go the bathroom. It always seems that just before a movie in your living room starts everybody in the house remembers they have something to do. It was so funny because this thing is happening EVERY. SINGLE. TIME with my family.
- When you travel, things become clear and the solutions become simple. You know that chliché: “travelling gives you perspective“. Well, yeah travelling gives you perspective in general about your life goals, about the way you live. But Couchsurfing gives you perspective about your personal life: how you speak to your mom, how you hang out with your brother and your friends… or how need to tell someone that you love them.
- If it goes really well (and it can!) you can create a “home” abroad. So if you will use CS a lot, you can have a home everywhere in the World.
What about the CONS?
- It’s actually tough to find a (good) host. It takes time, energy, and you have to plan in advance. If you’ve never tried CS you’ll see: to find a place to sleep, you have to read a lot of profiles, references and then write a convincing message (usually not just one).
- It’s not your home. You will never fell 100% comfortable. Even if you become good friend with you host, it’s someone else’s house.
- There’s a pressure to be pleasant, social and nice all the time. You don’t have to pay for this accommodation with money, but if you’re at some else’s place you just have to be nice. They’ve let you into their home, their most personal place, so you have to respect it.
- People could have a different idea of CS. So you could be pressured to follow their agenda. I had some awful experience in Itay. The guy who was the host had some crazy rules in his house… Ahh. It was just shit.
- For introverts, it could be hard to communicate that you want to be alone. Mostly, CS is for social people and those who enjoy being around strangers. But other people can use CS as well, so for them, it could be a bit hard sometimes to say you need some space. Especially if your host is a strong extrovert that constantly wants to hang out with you. If you’re an introvert, you understand that this kind of shit just doesn’t fly. A couple hours alone can do wonders for your attitude and is almost always best for all parties.
- Nothing is guaranteed. There’s always a risk. Not every home, every person, or every traveller is nice. Sometimes people just suck. Even if you’re prepared, anything could happen.
The bright side, the PROS
- It allows you to feel like you’re travelling when you’re at home. This is pretty obvious…
- It spices up your “boring” life. (haha) I mean it mixes up your daily routine and you’re kinda forced to do stuff you would not (for instance: going out instead of staying home and being lazy).
- It might make you look at your home, at your city differently. This is a really hard thing to do (at least for me) but with a guest from the other part of the world, it gets easier. And it’s a fun thing to do.
- It just feels good. You’re just helping someone who needs you. It’s just a nice thing to do.
- (If you’re not a native English speaker, it’s good practice.)
aaaand let’s see the CONS
- It can be tiring. It’s exhausting to have someone in your house. It’s difficult to be yourself when a stranger is in your home.
- If you’re hosting more than one person, you might feel like an outsider in your own house (especially if they speak another language). They will discuss what they want to do or what they want to see and you won’t be part of that conversation. It sucks.
- If you’re living with someone else – with your roommates, your family – you might not be able to do the hosting on your own terms. My family is a really awesome one, but they can be quite annoying sometimes (sorry, I still love all of you)… I’m not going to give an example here, you can use your own experiences from your own house (I really do believe that in every hose there might be something wrong. Because we are all human beings. That’s how it is). haha :))
- Again. Nothing is guaranteed. Just be aware who are you letting into your house. Take care and do your homework: check out your guests’ profile before you host them.
I’m gonna end this post with this thought:
I would like to ask you to use Couchsurfing. Be aware of all the risks, but be opened to all the awesome things that our amazing World offers You. Help other people and meet locals.
Be a couchsurfer!