6 Tips on how to host safely and successfully & meet travelers on couchsurfing.org
Couchsurfing,org is fairly new but has more than 5 million Couchsurfers in more than 97,000 cities, with a new user signing up every 11 seconds. There have been many skepticism around the idea of couch surfing and relying on strangers and their kindness. It can be scary to use the site for the first time, especially if you are traveling and in a place unfamiliar. This is why dipping your toes into the world of couch surfing is important.
Attending local CS events and meeting others who participate is a great way to start. Once you are comfortable with the idea, you can then start hosting where you feel more secure at your own home and start building your network of couchsurfers. I started my couch surfing experience with hosting as well and here are some tips to help you get started!
1) Read requests carefully:
I get an average of 5 requests per night. There are times when I get over 10 requests a day. especially during busy travel seasons. I can’t say ‘yes’ to everyone unfortunately and this is why it’s important to read through requests carefully to make sure that you host someone that fits your expectations. Couch requests should be more than a quick copy-and-paste that can be sent to anyone by anyone. It should be thoughtful and personalized to really outline why they want to stay with YOU and not Bob down the street.
2) Take time to review their profile:
Once you have read through the requests and have picked a few that you might want to host, take time to go through their profile. It not only helps you to see if they are taking couch surfing seriously, it also allows you to see what they are like, whether you would get along and what others say about them. Read references that they have received and also given to others, look at photos, etc.
3) Have a conversation with them before accepting:
Before accepting them right away, reply asking for more details such as what time they are arriving, until when they are leaving, what they are most interested in doing/seeing etc. This way you can
4) Set expectations straight:
This is beneficial for the guests and you. Let them know in advance where they will be sleeping, what time you expect them to leave (if you don’t want to leave keys with them), etc. If they are ok with your expectations, they will stay with you and have no complaints. I usually tell my guests that I have a short couch but also have an air mattress they can sleep on. I also don’t have spare keys so on weekdays, I don’t host unless people are ok with having to leave early in the morning with me.
5) Meet them in public:
When you first meet a guest, meet them in public. My apartment is not the easiest to get to and Boston public transportation system is not the best to navigate through when you first arrive in the city. So I offer to pick them up from the station. That way I can teach my guests how to go back and forth from the station to my apartment and also, I can meet them in a public space beforehand. It’s safe since you are in public and the commute back to the apartment makes it a perfect time to get to know your guest a little more.
6) Take them out to meet your friends or other CSers:
To make the first night less awkward, go out to a close by bar or gather some of your friends to hang out and invite your guest over. That way you don’t have to cook, eat alone together, or just sit on the couch staring at each other.. It’s also a great way to get to know your guest a bit more, share a couple of drinks and show them your ‘life’ since a lot of times people couch surf because they want to see those daily routines people have in other parts of the world.
But most importantly. Have fun! Hosting travelers is a great way to keep the travel spirit going when you can’t travel. I’ve met some amazing people through the network who I know I will see again in the near future.