Couchsurfing – almost everyone has heard about it but many still don’t know how it actually works. People offer travellers to sleep in their home without charging them money. Exactly, you don’t pay for your accommodation.
But where’s the catch? There’s no catch because it’s a win-win situation.
It makes your stay personal and unique
When I think about the trips where I did Couchsurfing my memories are way more intense than when I stayed in hotels.
My first Couchsurfing experience was in Valencia and I stayed with a Mexican guy. He lived in a big house near the beach with five other flatmates. On the day of my arrival they threw a sunset rooftop party with a DJ and we partied all night long. That night I met a bunch of amazing people and it was the perfect introduction to Couchsurfing.
The next day we biked through the city centre. My host showed me some sights and we tried local food. Later we were invited to a beach birthday party of one of the girls I had met the night before. There I met a Moroccan guy who helped me plan my Morocco trip. He even gave me the number of his friend in Morocco who would help me there.
I could go on telling stories about amazing parties and experiences, but you get the point. A hotel can never give you this kind of experience.
You meet kind and caring people
It’s obvious that people who share their home with complete strangers must be kind (or weirdos, but let’s trust the good reviews on their Couchsurfing account).
My second Couchsurfing experience was also in Spain. It was a last minute request because I spontaneously decided to go to San Sebastian. Most hosts declined my request. One guy said that even though he’d be very busy these days I could stay with him. He offered me a room in the house of his parents and I was the first person he ever hosted. He had many good reviews as a guest though.
It turned out that he was a professional piano player who returned to his home town to give a concert in the street. He was busy the whole day with the concert preparations but later that evening I got to see a very talented pianist play live.
In the morning I had breakfast with his extremely sweet mum. She had never heard of Couchsurfing before but still shared her home with me and treated me like a friend. Before I left she even gave me a little gift as a souvenir and told me that I’d always be welcome to come back. The gift was a small stone with the landscape of San Sebastian painted on it by hand.
You’re with a local
Your host knows the good spots, can give you recommendations and explore the city together with you. One time in Miami my host showed me a bar where girls could have free drinks the whole night. Without a local person I would have never found out about that bar.
The purpose of Couchsurfing is to spend time together, exchange experiences and learn from each other. Hosts provide their couches to meet people of different nationalities, make friends from different countries and to help out travellers.
As a guest you should always try to give something back as a thank you. Either you invite them for dinner, bring a small gift or help them out with something. If you get along well with each other why not offer to host him or her in your apartment one day? Couchsurfing is not only about a free accommodation but about giving and connecting with people from all over the world.
What are your experiences with Couchsurfing? Let me know in the comments!