Known probably to every backpacker in the world, Couchsurfing is a global community of members who have common goals at heart – to travel, to meet interesting people, and to spend at least a few days in a foreign city living like a local. Couchsurfing boasts an impressive number of 400,000 hosts and over four million surfers every year. Apart from being a hospitality exchange portal, Couchsurfing is also a social networking site where travelers can openly exchange their opinions and sign up for free events. Today, we have decided to take a closer look at pros and cons of using Couchsurfing while traveling. Interested what they are? Read on to find out!
Above all, Couchsurfing is a community of like-minded people. It is based on hospitality, friendship, and trust. Hosts open their doors to complete strangers only to get to know them and enjoy the time they may have together. Guests are not expected to pay any fees, however common courtesy rules are much in place. Although it is not obligatory, it is recommended to bring a bottle of wine for the host or cook a special thank-you dinner. After all, Couchsurfing may not be totally free, but it undeniably is one of the cheapest accommodation options.
Live like a local
A dream of any intrepid traveler is to get to know the city from the perspective of the locals. Couchsurfing gives the advantage of seeing the city through the eyes of its inhabitants. And staying in a real-life Spanish casa or spending the night in a traditional log cabin is a treat in itself. Watching your host perform their daily routine, observing their usual habits and tasting the traditional foods they will surely be willing to prepare for you, can give you an unprecedented taste of the so-called real life in any place in the world.
Meet new people with different backgrounds
Being a global network of users, the platform gathers people with different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. It is a human tapestry of interesting individuals you can either stay with or meet up for coffee and maybe do a little sightseeing. This unique feature of Couchsurfing makes it a one-of-a-kind social networking site.
As the name of the site suggests, if you decide to surf somebody’s couch, you will be actually sleeping on their couch or a mattress. You should not expect 4-star hotel comforts, soft pillows, and spring-fresh towels. Do remember that the hosts are opening the doors of their own homes for you because they want to get to know you as a person, not cater to your every need.
As you are a guest in someone’s house you will have to be prepared to abide by the host’s house rules. If you are lucky, you might get the keys to the apartment, but that does not mean that you should come home at 4 AM and start cooking an Indian curry. If you are worried that the lifestyle of the host will not go well with your plans for the trip, do get in touch with the host and talk it over.
Despite the fact that Couchsurfing pays special attention to safety by conducting thorough verification of its users, every once in a while you may hear some horrific stories from the surfers who were accused of theft, or hosts who made improper sexual advances. The truth is, abuse of any system may happen when we least expect it, therefore it is highly recommended to check references and go through users’ feedback before making any contact.
Couchsurfing is a unique blend of social networking site and hospitality club which gives you the opportunity to meet new people and experience foreign countries from the perspective of the locals. After taking some necessary precautions, surfing somebody’s couch or hosting a guest from abroad can turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime!
About the Author:
Sophia Mest is a Content Manager at BizDb, where she aspires to put her writing passion into practice and spread her words across the world. She spends her free time travelling and exploring the wonders of nature. Follow her on Twitter @MestSophia