I know there have been some brief mentions of Couchsurfing on other threads but I can\'t find them now...
so here it is: I\'m an 18 yr old Aussie girl thinking of doing some travel in Europe this year in between my job as an au pair in Germany. Will couchsurfing suit my situation? Is it safe? Is it fun, or just awkward?
If anyone has had any experience Couchsurfing or knows anything about it, I\'d love to hear from you!
=) Amy Reply to this
Hello Amy :)
Here is the URL to the couchsurfing site. http://www.couchsurfing.com/
I have not yet tried couchsurfing but those I have spoken with who tried it say it is a good experience.
I think it would be safe because if somebody has a bad experience they would report it to the site.
What people say about couchsurfing makes me think I should open my mind to trying it. I am a bit wary because I like my space. But most people who are members of couchsurfing are probably travellers just like me so I am giving it some serious consideration.
Reply to this
We've been members of CS for a while now, but because we live in a very small town, we don't get many visitors; last year we hosted a german guy for one night and it was a good experience, and last month we went to the 1st meeting of the Surrey couchsurfers, and was a very nice way of meeting people who live next to you or are traveling in your area. I think that when you're traveling CS is a fantastic way of getting to know the people and the way they live...and they know the best places in their cities!!!, plus you have contacts who speak the local language, which is always useful...
If you become a member, check our profile, we're also call denidax
Have fun in Germany, it's a lovely country!!!
Deni Reply to this
Hello Deni :)
Is it possible to join couchsurfers to chat on the forum and get to know what it is like until I decide if it is for me or not?
Or would I have to volunteer my couch as soon as I join?
Mel Reply to this
You don't have to offer your house if you don't feel like, you can just meet for coffee, have someone over for lunch or for a city tour...the whole thing is very open.
I think you have to be a member to be able to chat, but that only means that you have to have a profile, not invite people to your house, and even if you choose to host, it doesn't mean that you have to accept every request, you just check the profiles of the people who are trying to contact you and decide if you like them or not, or if it's a good moment for you to host...one recommendation, though: is always better if you answer to whoever is trying to contact you, even if it's to say "sorry, but not this time", because in every profile there's a box with the percentage of replies, so it doesn't look very nice if you just don't answer, it will show as if you are not very interested...
On the meeting we had last month, we met a couple who were traveling in SA, NZ and OZ and told us a story of this guy who was hosting them: he told them to meet him at the shop where he worked, took them to his flat, gave them the keys straight away and went back to work...that's really the idea, but it doesn't mean that we all do it that way, it's really a personal choice...and you leave comments about the people you meet, so the more comments, the better, and normally you can tell if the person is trustworthy or not...
I think the whole idea is very cool and a perfect way of meeting new people, I hope you join us!!!
Deni Reply to this
Thanks Deni :)
In that case I will join next week. It certainly seems worth checking out.
Mel Reply to this
Hey There everyone, just to add my two cents, i used couchsurfing in every city i visited when i spent a month in the US and it was an awesome experince and i met some great friends, i also used CS in Panama city and im currently stopping with a host in Mexico City, although im leaving for South America tonight, id highly recommend it even for just the local meet ups in your area to meet like minded travelers.
In South America im mostly hosteling but i will be meeting a few CSer's aswell which should be cool, hopefully i should be meeting Ali down in South America aswell.
Thx Mike:) Reply to this
thanks for the feedback...you all sound pretty happy with CS so I guess I'll give it a go!
=) Amy Reply to this
I am all over couchsurfing! In vietnam I stayed in a 3-story mansion with 3 american ex-pats who had a pet monkey. In KL I stayed with the coolest hippie ever, and in India its overwhelming and "competitive" with who gets to host. I had all but one cool person stay with me while I lived in Japan. As a female, I would take more precautions than if you were a guy- make sure they have some good references. Also, (they talk about this on the website) make sure you have a back up plan if you get put in an uncomfortable situation. My parents hate that I do it and other friends think I am crazy. still I am a huge supporter and have tons of fun doing it! Reply to this
I want to throw in a late but enthusiastic thumbs up for Couchsurfing. That was our favorite part of the last trip we took. It was a great experience all the way around and we plan on using this method for shelter almost exclusively on future trips.
And it is true, you can join and surf without having to put your couch up for people. Or you can host and not surf other people's couch, or, of course, do both!
If anyone chooses to try it out, I hope you find it as enjoyable as we did! Reply to this
Mell posted a link to this in another thread, I'm a member of CS. I've hosted around 10 travelers, some staying one night others staying 5. I am yet to have a bad experience (touch wood). I will be surfing a couch in Cairns next month and then surfing lots of couches in the States in June. I love everything about couch surfing :)
Once you understand how it all works (as in, it's not about a 'free bed') then you will really open up to the idea. Mell, did you end up joining??? Reply to this
Mell, did you end up joining???
I joined but got cold feet, so didnt participate. My biggest fear is that if I stay in peoples houses, rather than at a hostel or hotel my personal space and freedom will be compromised.
I am not used to meeting people from the internet in person. This year for the first time I did meet 3 people I first met on the internet(they are TravelBlog members) in person and those were nice experiences, so I feeling a bit more encouraged. Thing that makes me nervous about CouchSurfing is that I would have to state up front if I am willing to lend my couch or meet people for drinks. I would like to be able to see a little of what a person has to say for a while before opening myself up to meeting a particular one. It seems that on Couchsurfers people would be asking to meet me before I even had a chance to interact with them at all on the Couchsurfers site. Reply to this
That's a valid concern but that's what the whole request function is for. I have a lot of people ask to stay with me because I live so close to the city. I respond to their initial email with questions about themselves and from there we chat. Everybody I have asked to know more about has sent a very detailed reply and I think it makes the time when we do meet more enjoyable because we've already built a rapport with each other. Many emails can be exchanged before meeting in person :)
Otherwise if you attend a CS function in your home city you are guaranteed to meet like minded travelers, not only from your home town but anyone traveling through there at that point. I guess it's less pressure than meeting a person one on one.
Feel free to reject someones request to meet up or surf your couch. I have and plenty of others do.
In regards to your person space maybe it's best not to surf or host but I hope you take up the opportunity to meet new people, many are very willing to be your 'guide' as such and show you all the best parts of their city while you're there.
Have you found the forums on the site? You be able to establish who is really involved their city by how often they post, easier to get a feel for them if you can see how they interact with others on the board and not just directly with you. =) Reply to this
I have only recently become involved in Couchsurfing in Brisbane, and though I live in an excellent location, lack of space in my apartment means hosting anyone is not possible. To this end, I just host people - be a tour guide for a day, cook meals (and who doesn't miss home-cooked meals when travelling) and share travel advice on Australia - it works just fine.
I sometimes attend the Couchsurfing local functions and get to know people in a group environment, thus it is less intimidating way of meeting a specific person who you may have had contact with. As Renee said, it is a great way to meet travelling-minded people - and I found that the general level of discussion at these events to be more stimulating than normal. Reply to this
I was up in Cairns last weekend and finally did some Surfing of my own! It was great, I stayed with 2 hosts (3 days and 2 days) and they were both fantastic. They drove me to sight seeing destinations that would have cost me at least $100 to get there on my own. In return I cooked up a Thai green curry and a pumpkin soup :)
I'm back in Brisbane now so back to hosting. Travel Camel are you heading to The Plough Inn this week?? Reply to this
Hey Amy (and all),
I've had mostly good experiences with Couchsurfing, and I have been a member since 2006. I travel a lot, and as a female on her own, I definitely think it's good to be cautious. So, unless I'm traveling with at least one other person, I stay with women. I read their profiles and make sure they have been reviewed by others (CS has made this even easier to do these days). One thing I suggest no matter who you decide to stay with is meeting in a public location before you go to this person's home. This will give you a chance to decide how comfortable you feel around them. I also think that it's always a great idea to have a backup plan - so think about getting the phone number/email to two hostels just in case you don't like your CS host.
Most of the people I have met through CS are great people though! Have fun! Reply to this
There are a lot of positive comments here and I am glad to hear that. Does anyone have a negative story to share. I'd like to hear what some of the issues are in doing this? Reply to this
Sofia and I have surfed 5 times and hosted 5 times. No negative stories. Some incredible experiences. As I am travelling with a young child, I am very selective and usually will only stay with families or couples, always have rental car and realize that I can leave at anytime. My daughter has enjoyed immensely, and I know it has been some of the best parts of our trips for her. We have enjoyed hosting as well. Reply to this
There are certainly some negative issues in CS, most of which would affect single female travellers. In 2009, there was a rape case in England, the victim being a Chinese girl and the rapist her Moroccan host. Don't remember the town, must have been Liverpool or Manchester.
A rather high-profile case from the same year was when a German girl mentioned in a CS forum that she was drugged and sexually assaulted by her host in Kuala Lumpur, who was a very well-known and active member of the local community, organizing meetings, excursions, etc. After the girl posted the thread 4-5 other female couchsurfers said that the same happened to them, they just weren't brave enough to come out with it. Basically the guy had this thing where he asked whether the girl wanted to try his 'special herbal tea', and upon drinking the concoction, the victim started feeling dizzy and told her host she'd go lie down, passing out on the bed/couch, an easy prey to the rapist.
Most of the girls said they couldn't remember anything, just that they woke up feeling hungover and felt that something wasn't quite right, but they didn't report it to the police or on the forums. Mr. Rapist deleted his profile shortly after a long rant he posted in the forums where he wrote he quits CS because people are so ungrateful and only taking advantage of him. Funnily, most people from the local CS tried to prevent him from quitting (that was before the German girl posted her thread), saying he's such an important member of the community. If you're interested, the thread are still on the forums somewhere, probably won't be too hard to find them.
Another major issue would be the politics of CS, and I would advise anybody not to get involved in it (or you'd risk getting caught between the factions), or wasting their time on the forums reading the pointless rants of people who have too much time on their hands. I've never donated any money to CS and I wouldn't advise anybody to to so, seeing that it's very unclear precisely where the money goes, but if you want to have some clues, read through the forums. I decided to concentrate on surfing and hosting long ago. Reply to this