Brandy says: I love to give you the information just how you want it— quick and easy- but this is a special case. CouchSurfing is dear to my heart, and will only continue to function if people who are truly interested in the spirit of “surfing” use it. To pass the litmus test , you must read this article in it’s entirety and promise not to exploit the system. I cannot stress enough that CouchSurfing is NOT to be viewed as a free hostel. You have duties as a guest, too. End rant, begin reading.


When was the last time you knocked on a strangers door and were greeted with a huge hug, a bed (well, couch) and hours of meaningful conversation? If you say “never” I promise you are missing out on one of the better experiences life has to offer. Welcome to CouchSurfing.

The concept is simple: CouchSurfing is a website on which the users make profiles and meet other like-minded travelers, or hosts, across the globe. You make contact with the host, request to surf their couch, and voila! You now have 1) a place to stay 2) a new friend and a  3)behind the scenes guide into the culture and traditions of wherever you are visiting.

Yes, your host has offered to give you a free place to stay, but this does not mean you are off the hook. You are representing yourself, your country, and CouchSurfing. Your job as a guest is to be clean, respectful, and engaging. If you don’t have the ability to do these things, do everyone a favor and spend the money to get a hostel. CS is meant for people who can give and take in equal measures, with the best of intentions- not someone who needs a place to crash and wants a free innkeeper.

“…Stay in a strangers house?! Alone? as a female? That doesn’t seem safe!“  The idea in itself does seem risky, but CouchSurfing has implemented several ways for surfers to be selective in choosing their host based on their verification & vouched status. I know you’re intrigued, read on…

To become verified (which appears on your profile as a green check mark) you make a donation with your credit card, which verifies your name & billing information. The second part of this process is the verification postcard which they mail to your home. You then enter the code to prove that you’re not a robot or a gypsy. This helps potential surfers trust you just a little more. Vouching is also another great way to demonstrate your trustworthiness.

The power of “The Vouch“. Vouching ability originated with the CS admins- who had the ability to “vouch” for fellow CS’ers they know (in person, not computer land) and trust. You have to be vouched for three times before you are able to vouch for anyone else. This way, the system can be sure that you are dedicated to the cause and fellow CSers can put more stock in the status “vouched”. This is an extremely special thing to the CS community and in some cases, even more important than verification.

If you’re still hesitant at this point, but entertaining the idea, I wholeheartedly recommend you try it out, just once! No plans to travel the globe anytime soon? CouchSurf in a nearby city- it’s not about where you are – although it really helps to be somewhere amazing- it’s about who you are with.
For those of you who are chomping at the bit to travel but just cant right now, try hosting! It’s a fantastic way to meet quality people from all over this world, share your corner of the planet and warm someone’s heart while they are away from home.You will learn about their country, customs, hearing insriring stories of travel, and be living vicariously through your guest. Visit their site to check out the statistics on how many people do this, and live to tell about it.


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'COUCHSURFING' have 5 comments

  1. January 17, 2013 @ 2:49 am Ian [EagerExistence]

    I am also in love with CouchSurfing, I have been a member since 2006. I’ve hosted and surfed countless couches, and met even more amazing travellers through the organised meetings and online forums.

    I have to admit though, I’m not a huge fan of the direction the new CouchSurfing (organisation) is taking, its becoming more Facebook-esque, and the quality of requests I receive has taken a huge decline with the popularity of the site.

    However, I still believe in people making the travel experience better. So I’m still an active member, and I weed out the rubbish requests and forum trolls to find those few diamonds-in-the-rough that become life-long friends.

    I encourage every traveller to be open-minded and try new experiences. Find what works for you. Whether that’s hotels, hostels, camp-grounds, CouchSurfing (or some other hospitality exchange).
    Ian [EagerExistence] recently posted…Part 1: My First Couch Surfing Experience (in Europe)My Profile


    • January 17, 2013 @ 8:25 am brandy bell

      couldn’t have said it better, Ian! The overwhelming popularity of CS has resulted in some truly lame people in the system sending requests like “coming to madrid 4-9 march, whats ur address?” and the like. In fact, it’s so bad that THIS website came to fruition, check it out
      thanks for commenting and doing your part to keep the CS spirit alive!


  2. July 15, 2013 @ 7:36 am Kate

    I jumped into the CS diving pool whilst travelling alone in Europe. I made the rookie error of putting an open call ‘looking for a place to stay’ and received hundreds of invitations from men with emails that not so subtly hinted I would be welcome on their couch if I provided sexual favours and only one invitation from a woman (although to be fair when I asked women individually, they were much more responsive and kind). I eventually got into contact with a guy in Italy who after sending several emails and emphasising that yes although I was travelling by myself I had a boyfriend at home and had no interest in sex. I decided to try surfing with this guy. It felt really odd living in someone else’s house even if I did cook dinner/left a present behind etc etc. I found out afterwards when my little sister back home Googled him that he has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman (and there was absolutely no mistaking him).
    CS definitely offers insight to a country and its people that a hostel or a hotel never could BUT the two lessons I learned.

    1. Do a Google check (it seems so shallow and Gen Y but it would filter out anything seriously bad and provide (limited) reassurance that the person is who they say they are)
    2. DO NOT put out an open call on CS if you are a single female traveller, you get some truly revolting emails and you don’t get a couch


    • July 15, 2013 @ 8:09 am Kate

      I should point out that I spent the whole time feeling uneasy but put it down to CS for the first time…He made several passes at me (but I thought perhaps I was just being a prude and in Italy everyone flirts) and awoke one morning to find to door to the spare room I was sleeping in was wide open…
      I guess above all trust your gut.


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