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What is Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing concept is quite simple, it allows you to stay at another person’s abode, free of cost. This doesn’t mean that you can take advantage of your hosts. It is simply a way to connect with the locals and learn more about their culture and history.
In Couchsurfing, you get a chance to see a place from your host’s eyes. Also, you get a chance to teach them something about your own culture or teach them a new skill too. It is a community which inspires other people to travel more and see more. All the while providing a homely place for them to stay at.
So, if you are one of those people who love talking to new people on your journey and is always looking for ways to cut the cost of your trip, then Couchsurfing is the ideal choice for you.
In fact, with the Couchsurfing app, this has been made even simpler. You can simply download the app from the Playstore or just go to the Couchsurfing website to start Couchsurfing.
Sign up for a new account and fill in your profile details to get started. You can also get verified if you wish to. Then, you just need to login to Couchsurfing and start planning your trip.
Verifying your account will show you as a more trustworthy and reliable couchsurfer to the hosts. This will help you in finding hosts quickly in an area. You also are likely to be picked by other travelers to host if you are verified.
Yes, you heard me right! With Couchsurfing, you can not only stay at someone’s place but you can also host a traveler from another state and country. This is why it is such a dependable and amazing way to meet fellow travelers and explorers.
Apart from hosting people and getting hosted, you also have an option to just meet new people who are traveling to your area. You can meet them for a cup of coffee or make a traveling plan with them and then just hang out with each other. Isn’t this an incredible way to broaden your horizons?
Why Should You Give it a Chance?
Now, that I have explained to you what does a Couchsurfing app do, I am sure you must be wondering what is so special about it. Why should you give it a chance?
Well, for one of the simplest reasons ever. If you love traveling as much as I do and are always interested in talking to new people on your trip then, this is a great way to do that without creeping anyone out.
If this reason is not enough, then I have a list of reasons that are compelling enough to make you want to try this wonderful experience.
Great way to save a few extra bucks
This is seriously a great way for budget travelers to save some money as you don’t need to book a hotel or a hostel. You simply stay with the locals and make the most of your time. It is similar to how you would stay and feel at a Homestay or an Airbnb but you don’t have to pay in currency.
You can just pay back your hosts by getting them something to remember you by or by helping them in some daily chores at home. Exchanging ideas and conversations is also a great way to pay back your host.
Perfect for solo travelers
This is probably the best way for a solo traveler to travel for a long time in a new place. Befriending the locals will make you miss your home less.
Also, it will make you feel like someone is there who cares about your whereabouts because trust me, some of the hosts are really sweet. They inquire about your whereabouts until you are safely back to your home.
Amazing way to meet more people
One of the best reasons to try Couchsurfing is because it is a great way to meet fellow travelers and learn about the different cultures and places. You make so many friends on the way by Couchsurfing.
You learn about the local culture
As you stay with the locals, you learn a lot about their place’s history and stories which you might have not found online.
You become a little more trusting
Let’s face it, we don’t trust anyone. We have become increasingly suspicious about your surroundings and people around us which is why it is so difficult to open up and make a deep bond with someone. Couchsurfing is the way to overcome this fear and learn to trust others more. This will certainly help you in being a little more trusting in your relationships too.
You can share the local travel cost
Another amazing reason to try Couchsurfing is that you end up meeting fellow travelers in the same area with whom you can explore your surroundings and save a few bucks by sharing the travel cost. You will be able to share a taxi or lunch or anything which might have otherwise cost you double if you were traveling alone.
Explore places, not in the books
One of the best reasons to try Couchsurfing is that if you stay with locals, then you are bound to learn more about the offbeat places which are gorgeous and less crowded. You are less likely to find such places when you are staying in a hotel or a resort.
Hosts and travelers are really helpful
Another convincing reason to try Couchsurfing is that sometimes you might come across hosts and travelers who are really kind and helpful. They might help you with the itinerary or they might cook a delicious meal for you. In some cases, they might even buy an entrance ticket for you so that you don’t have to pay the price put up for foreigners (Yes, I did find such amazing hosts on my journey!!).
You learn a lot on the way
Lastly, you learn so much on the way. With every traveler or host you meet, you learn something different which can really help you in growing up and becoming more self-sustained and mature.
Tips for Choosing a Reliable Host for the First Time
I know that first time is not easy and it can be a little tough to determine where to start from. We can randomly message someone and ask them to host us. So, how do you work this out? Thankfully, I stumbled upon the Couchsurfing app. Here, you just have to type your destination and your travel dates and it will show you a list of hosts for that particular area. So, once you have an account here, the tricky part starts in choosing an appropriate host.
I tried Couchsurfing first time for my Sri Lanka trip and I am so glad that I tried it, it was really an amazing experience and not for one second did I feel unsafe. So, here are a few things that I checked when looking for my hosts for the first time:
Check the Verified Hosts
The first thing that I looked for in the hosts is whether they had a green check next to their name or not. This means they have been verified by the Couchsurfing team and their details are true. This includes their address, nationality, phone number, etc. So, if you are trying Couchsurfing for the first time, then I would advise you to stick with the Verified Hosts only.
Go for the Host with More Number of References
Although it is not a definite way to find a reliable host but I thought if a person has 40 positive references, then he must be a pretty good host. So, I only looked for hosts with a lot of references as they seemed more reliable and trustworthy. However, this should not be the only deciding factor when choosing a host for yourself.
Read the positive and the negative references
The next thing which I checked is the surfer and hosts references about this person. I read a few positive references to learn what is good about the person and I checked the negative references to see what ticked off the other travelers. This is really a great way to know more about your host and travelers and can really help you in making the right decision.
Read the bio and get more details
Another important tip is that make sure you read about the host and their hobbies before you approach them. This will give you a tentative idea of how your host is and if you would be comfortable with them.
Send a message and converse with the potential host
Lastly, just send them a message and talk a little before you confirm your stay. This will give you a chance to back off if you are uncomfortable or don’t think you will gel well with your host.
My First Experience with Couchsurfing
I am not the most trusting person in the world which is why the idea of Couchsurfing was really terrifying. Also, as a solo girl traveler, I was more worried and wasn’t sure if I should do this.
Initially, I doubted Couchsurfing a lot but in the end, I wanted to experience how Couchsurfing app really worked. So, I took a deep breath and took the plunge. I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I went through with it.
Couchsurfing gave a chance to stay with some of the most amazing people on the way. I learned a lot about the Sri Lankan culture and policies. Also, got a chance to discuss fate, destiny and the power of yoga and herbs.
It allowed me to learn how one of my hosts became a chef/hotel manager who was previously a Boxing champ. That’s not all, I also got to know how sweet and welcoming the Italian people really are. Even when they are in a different country. But mostly, I finally understood how delicious Pasta can be!!!(I used to dislike pasta but now I love it!)
I just learned so much from different people on this trip. From all my hosts and my fellow travelers, it was truly a humbling and refreshing experience.
Yes, I am still distrustful but I have opened myself just a little more to the outside world. I can’t wait to try Couchsurfing again! I hope that you give this amazing experience a chance too. And let yourself be blown away by this world’s kindness and sincerity.