Always good to think about the flip side in advance so you can be prepared.
We met Dave & Suz recently and they have absolutely wonderful things to say about couch surfing.
They do it all the time. Overlanders
They shared with us many of their positive experiences. We are going to sign up and give it a try.
I just joined a few months back and I must say all my experiences have so far been wonderful. I guess the experience really depends on your approach at people, overall personality, and ability to discern who to trust. I have yet to host though.
There were a lot of times though when I chose to not couchsurf and just stay in a hostel just so I could do whatever it was I wanted to do for that particular time (like just sleep all day, be still, go around-til-I-drop, etc.) without thinking of my hosts.
[Edited: 2011 Jun 24 16:58 - fateundermined:153556 ]
A good point Hana, I rarely couchsurf mainly because at the end of a day of travel, I prefer to sit by myself and reflect, sort my photos and retire to bed early - not really conducive to great conversation or being a great guest. Actually, I live on my own in Australia so I am comfortable with that feeling of space and solitude around me.
Having said that if I am passing through a place for a day waiting for my next flight, then it would be perfect to use. Also, if accommodation in a place is particularly expensive, then I'm more tempted to couchsurf for a couple of nights.
The other benefit of couchsurfing is not to stay for cheap, it can be used to meet someone who is happy to show you around their favourite (and often little visited by outsiders) places in a city - this I find to be a more useful benefit of the project and have used this more often.
You have touched on the exact reason Dave and Suz love couch surfing. They have met some wonderful and interesting people and have been shown parts of town they would have missed on their own. They do it intermittently.
Our CS profile is in fact linked to our Travelblog profile (and vice versa) because we truely enjoy hosting. Hosting has been a great way for us to meet new people and share 'travel' experiences even if we still had to wake up and head off to our jobs in the morning. It also gave as really great excuses to go and sight-see and partake in various things in our hometown. We would always share are favorite places to eat, cook up a local meal at home, invite people to go on a hike or outdoor adventure with us (or whatever our weekend plans entailed)... We met some wonderful people this way, many of whom we have kept in touch with. And you always have the option of deciding not
to host someone. I never accepted anyone I felt we wouldn't genuinely get along with and/or couldn't trust. Besides, I always had way too many requests than there were days available. I politely declined requests from far more people I accepted (you can usually tell who is interested in meeting you
and your city, vs those looking to crash somewhere cheap).
Surfing - I only did it once, but it was to the city I was moving (NYC) so my local host gave me all sorts of useful information, tips, tricks and basically oriented me to a place I'd never been. It can be difficult always have to be "on" but that depends on the dynamic between you and your host. I probably wouldn't want to surf exclusively while traveling, but mix it up.
Our only negative experience - I would often just hand over our 'spare' key to the guests so that they could come and go as they pleased. Well, one time a couple left without returning it and I was locked out for several hours. Even after I called them to see if they had it (and they did) it took them another week to drop it in the mail! But of all the things that could go wrong, that is relatively minor.
It is not, as many point out, "free" accommodation. I often spent much more than I usually would when hosting (cooking a meal for multiple people, making sure all the linens are laundered, time to clean up the place, fuel getting them to or from the airport) and surfers also paid back this hospitality in other ways (cooking dinner for us, picking up the tab one night, bringing us a local something-or-other from their home). Not required, of course, but that is typically how it went. Reciprocity. Of course If I were to have the choice between spending X amount of dollars for an empty standardized room, or spending <X amount of dollars enjoying the company of wonderful people - I'd say the latter is always the better bargain.
Of course If I were to have the choice between spending X amount of dollars for an empty standardized room, or spending <X amount of dollars enjoying the company of wonderful people - I'd say the latter is always the better bargain.
Same here. It's actually one of the best ways to learn about a certain place, the people, and their culture. It really depends on what type of travel and experience you're after.
I agree with mixing up couchsurfing vs. not doing it because, as I mentioned, sometimes you just really want to be with yourself. Besides, you can always meet other people while staying in hostels, in transit, while just sitting somewhere, etc. I did -- a lot of them while in transit and I'm still in contact with them.
surfers also paid back this hospitality in other ways (cooking dinner for us, picking up the tab one night, bringing us a local something-or-other from their home).
I made it a point to bring something from our place as a way of thanking my hosts. It's the least I could do for opening their home to a stranger like me. It also makes for an interesting conversation topic, as well as a wonderful way of sharing with them a tiny bit of our culture.
Stephanie! Just drop me a note when you do get to do that RTW and find yourselves here. 😊
I have been doing couchsurfing for the past 3 years now (on off) and have always had positive experiences with it. I think that if you properly research your hosts you should be fine traveling through Europe.
Another good thing about it is the cultural exchange aspect. It is important that you don't just view it as a free bed but try to connect with the people you stay with.
I have a travel website with my Girlfriend (whom I met via couchsurfing friends) and we have some stories about couchsurfing there.
This link is the first time I couchsurfed in New Zealand
The guy was a cool 71 year old who lived off the grid in a eco freindly house!
I hope this helps and I hope you enjoy your trip!
[Edited: 2011 Jul 11 08:34 - Jabe:6222 - No URL drops on forums, please.]