You’ve probably already heard about it. Couchsurfing is the largest worldwide social net for sharing accommodation for free. It connects travelers with the locals providing lodgings at their homes completely for free. Currently, the system is used by 12 million people from more than 200,000 cities.

How Couchsurfing Works?

Couchsurfing is based on mutual references among friends inside of the system but mainly between guests and hosts. The whole system is built on mutual trust. It is similar to Airbnb(our Airbnb tips and tricks), but there is one remarkable difference – Couchsurfing is for free. The first thing that may come to your mind is the question of safety. Isn’t there anything that could happen to me? Could anyone rob me? Drawing on my own experience, I’ve never heard of anyone to whom something like that has ever happened. Of course, there are people with negative experience as well but those usually arise out of poor communication.

Couchsurfing by countries in 2011 - By Kransky (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Couchsurfing by countries in 2011

Tips: How To Be a Good Host

Signing up for Couchsurfing is for free, however, do not expect that somebody will put you up out of the blue. Before picking your host, start with becoming a host yourself, offer your couch (or just an air mattress) to other Couchsurfing user.

Fill Out Your Profile Properly

So, start with signing up and keep in mind that it is essential to fill out your profile completely and truthfully. If you are seriously interested, you should have your profile verified. It also pays off to have your address (where you want to put up your guests) confirmed (Couchsurfing team will send you a postcard with a unique code) and, last but not least, to have your phone number verified via a text message code.

Add a profile picture of yourself and also a picture of your apartment/house. When filling out the items, be honest, so that you avoid misunderstandings. Try to share as much as you can about yourself, so as to build enough trust between you and your potential guests. Don’t hesitate to mention that you are a newbie to Counsurfing. When you are ready, set your profile on “Accepting Guests.”

Safety and Trust

The last part of the profile and the most important one is the references part. Try asking your friends who use Couchsurfing already to add you and write you a positive review. The references are a key factor of safety and trust.

You can prevent negative experiences successfully if you go through your potential guest’s reviews. Read the request they sent you carefully. Try to look up more information about the person, and if you are not quite sure, you can make a phone call via Skype.

Set the Rules

People may differ a lot and be of various cultural conventions. In spite of the fact that Couchsurfing is used mostly by young, tolerant, and educated people who love traveling, it is more than advisable to set certain rules and inform your guests about them.

Can your guests use the kitchen, cook there, use ingredients from your fridge? And do they have to wash up after themselves? Is smoking allowed in your house? At what time do you leave the house in the morning and do you insist on their leaving the house at the same time?

Communicating through phone is optimal

When you expect the guest, give them your phone number and ask them to write you right after they land. That will help you prevent many troubles, for example in the case when their flight is delayed. Also, make a map for them so that they find the way to your house. Send them information about public transport possibilities, etc.

Prepare a Program for Your Guests

Your guests will certainly ask about interesting places in your city and tips on good local restaurants. So it’s better to be prepared. Pick your favorite places to eat where they serve traditional dishes, or recommend local museums worth visiting, or at which club there’s going to be a party that night, and so on.

Hosti z Mexika nám vaří večeři

Our guest from Mexico are making for us a dinner – Chilaquiles

Tips: How to Look for Hosts

Searching on Couchsurfing is very similar to that of accommodation comparison websites, such as, but even more similar to Airbnb – our best tips for Airbnb. You enter the city and then you can filter hosts. We also recommend installing the Couchsurfing mobile app, as you can replay and look for hosts much faster. Check out other travel mobile apps that we use.

Host’s Profile

When you search, start with a profile. Does this person seem likable to you? Do you share some interests? Is your approach to traveling the same as theirs? The same applies to your profile when you want to be a host. A profile is like a shop window of every user.

Learn as Much as You Can about Your Host

The same tips again. Look up their Facebook profile, read through their all references carefully. Use your intuition and if something seems weird, better pick another one.

Write a Request

Do your best when you write one and definitely never use the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V method. You need to convince your potential host to choose you. Write them why you picked them particularly, what draws you to their city, what your plans are and what you are interested in. And also don’t forget to mention when do you plan to arrive and departure.

It’s hard to say how long in advance you should message them. I don’t think that there’s any use in contacting them more than one month in advance. Sometimes a host may add their preferences about the matter in their profile, which brings us back to the beginning: read their profile carefully.

Be Punctual and Do Have a Plan B

Both as a guest and as a host, you should be specific and if there is any change, let the other side know. Also, do have a plan B. Do not rely on the host completely because anything unexpected can happen, for example, they can fall ill or they may be obliged to leave the city urgently. With hotels or Airbnb, there’s more certainty.

Follow the Rules, Be Tidy and Polite

Maybe that this is not necessary to mention but just in case: Always do follow your host’s rules, clean up after yourself, and mind your manners. Do not do anything you wouldn’t want the others to do to you.

tom_profilTIP : Get your host a present. It is not among the requirements but it is kind of an unwritten rule of decency. A souvenir that is linked to you or the country you come from is OK. Some people bring small magnets of their home town, others bring beer cans, or they cook them a traditional dish. However, pay attention to whose place are you staying at to avoid cultural faux pas (such as bringing a Muslim a bottle of alcohol). While engaging in Couchsurfing, you don’t pay with money but you basically share yourself, your knowledge, culture, experience. And sometimes even your culinary skills. So expect that and be prepared.

It Doesn’t End with Accommodation

What makes Couchsurfing so unique? It doesn’t end with putting up somebody in your house. The whole social net is a large group of people who like to travel, are open and willing to help each other with various things.

Couchsurfing Meetings: Being a Part of Community

In large or popular cities where Couchsurfing is more spread, there are meetings for Couchsurfing users held regularly. If you are a newbie, there’s nothing easier than coming to such meeting and learn more information and even get a positive review to start with.

Accommodation Is Not the Only Thing You Can Share

Couchsurfing does not end with sharing accommodation. If you arrive in the foreign city, you can just go to a pub with somebody and get more information. However, it may also happen that someone will lend you their tripod, takes you on a trip in their car, or lend you their tent and sleeping bag.

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