The Couchsurfing Community is growing a lot lately. More and more people decide to use Couchsurfing for their travels. When we travel, we often use it, but we also like to host people at our place from time to time.
As you can imagine, every day, I receive dozens of Couchsurfing requests. Usually, you can already see at the first glance, which ones you want to host and which ones you won’t. I guess that’s what most Couchsurfing hosts agree on.
In this post, you can learn how to get hosted much faster and be one of those requests that stand out from the beginning in order to get a unique travel-experience and great insight into your destination from a local point of view.
What to find out in this post
- 1 What is Couchsurfing?
- 2 The Problem
- 3 How to stand out on Couchsurfing?
- 4 Create an interesting profile
- 5 Upload Pictures
- 6 Collect good references
- 7 Read your host’s Profile
- 8 No Copy-Paste-Messages
- 9 Introduce yourself
- 10 Tell them why they should host you
- 11 You got accepted? Great, but there are some more rules to follow
What is Couchsurfing?
To explain it as short as possible, Couchsurfing is a platform like Airbnb, just free of charge. Therefore, you can stay at your host’s place for free and spend some time with them.
Your sleeping place is different from host to host. The idea is to get a couch to sleep on, some hosts offer a bed, some a mattress. Sometimes you share your room, sometimes you get your own.
The idea behind Couchsurfing is not only to get a place to sleep for free but much more to have a local insight into your destination, getting to know the culture and the places where locals hang out. For me, it is a great way to travel.
Lately, the Couchsurfing community is growing rapidly. Which means that there are more and more profiles. Many of those profiles are not active anymore and even more are not able to host. Therefore, there are more people that look for hosts than people actually hosting. Thus, it can be difficult to find someone that is willing to host you at their place.
Moreover, there are more and more people out there using Couchsurfing as they use dating apps like Tinder. So, you also want to make sure to attract the right people to host you and not someone with hidden intentions. (I must say, I also met my partner Eduardo while Couchsurfing at his place, but I came with a friend and none of us actually had any intentions of dating someone in the first place)
How to stand out on Couchsurfing?
Create an interesting profile
Hosts usually accept guests that seem to be interesting for any reason. That’s why you should try to make your profile look as interesting as possible (Without making up anything, obviously). Write down your hobbies and interests. Talk about unique experiences that you had and mention things you can share with your hosts. Add your favorite movie or a book that you like. The more information you give the higher the chances that your host finds anything that you guys have in common.
The best is to choose a picture in which people can see you clearly. This way you can show that you are a real person. On the other hand, a nice smile can never be wrong. Try to use a picture on which people can clearly see who is you. (No Group Picture) Anyway, you can upload pictures with friends or of you doing fun activities to your profile in order to show that you are a person to have fun with. However, you should rather not show too much skin on your pictures as you probably don’t want to attract people with wrong intentions.
Collect good references
The more positive references you have the more people are considering you as a person they want to meet or have as their guest. The easiest way to get references is to host people at your own place. If that is not possible, you can as well offer to show travelers around your city or meet members for a coffee.
Read your host’s Profile
Every day, I am receiving messages and requests that show that this person clearly hasn’t read my profile. So obviously, I am not even answering that kind of messages anymore. Sometimes, it’s already the first sentence that hasn’t been read. (If my profile says I am not at home at the moment, why would someone send me a message asking me to meet up.) Another reason why you should always read the profile of your potential host (besides not wasting your time if your host is not available) is that you should know beforehand whether this person is someone you actually want to stay with. To avoid bad surprises, you can read in their profile for instance, whether you have to share your room or even bed with your host. Another example is that some hosts are nudist and expect you to be naked while staying at their place as well, which is not something for everyone. So better check beforehand who you are going to send a request to.
It may sound so obvious, but you would be surprised how many messages I receive every day that are clearly just copied and pasted. Some people even forget to change the name or make it even easier for them by not using a name at all. I started refusing those requests without even sending a message because I got super tired of it. If you aren’t even putting the effort to send me a personal message, I definitely not going to host you at my place. From talking to other hosts, I know that many hosts do the same thing.
When writing your request keep in mind that your host is not a hotel in any way and is only going to host you if he feels like. No one wants to have a stranger in their home, so, introduce yourself. Tell your potential host who you are and why you are traveling to his city. You can as well mention the plans you have during your stay. This way, he can get a clearer picture of what you expect.
Tell them why they should host you
If you want someone to host you for free, you should clearly give them a good reason(s) to do so. Sure, your profile says a lot about you, but it’s never wrong to give some personal reasons as well. When reading your host’s profile, you probably can already get some ideas. Is he studying a language that you are fluent in? Great, you can practice together! Does he like the same music/movies as you? Share your experiences. If you have any hobbies in common, definitely mention this in your message. Try to make it as personal as you can. The more you both have in common, the higher are the chances that he will invite you to his place.
You got accepted? Great, but there are some more rules to follow
When staying with your host you should make sure he is happy with you as his guest in order to receive a good reference from him afterwards. Those references help your next host to decide whether he should host you or not. You probably might want to follow the following points in order to get a good reference for your stay.
- Your host’s house is not a hotel. Don’t expect him to give you a key in order to go out and come back when you please. Many hosts don’t like their Couchsurfers to stay at their place while they go out for work, so make sure to leave on time if they ask you to do so
- Show respect! When walking around the house (at night), be sure to be quiet and tidy. (Try to be at home before your host goes to sleep)
- Show Gratitude! Your host gives you a free place to sleep. You can bring him a little souvenir or snack from your country/town, cook for him, do the dishes or any other nice detail
- Don’t expect your own room. If you expect the worst, you can only get surprised positively 😉
- Ask before using anything. Probably, your host doesn’t mind if you take a shower or use the kitchen in order to prepare a little snack, but you should always make sure to ask before using something. This way you can show your host that you respect his property
- Please don’t exhaust your host’s hospitality. We already had guests taking 3 showers a day (in February) while using our shampoos and shower gels, not switching off the lights in the hallway and room before leaving, and even asking us at 3 am to prepare him a sandwich
If you follow the given points in this article, you will probably find a host much faster and get good references. This way, you can have an amazing experience and get a unique insight into your destination’s culture.
If still, no one is able to host you, it can also have other reasons though, such as semester breaks or holidays. Keep that in mind before requesting or maybe even consider changing your dates accordingly if possible. Good luck!
Have you tried Couchsurfing? Do you have any other piece of advice to get accepted easier? Let me know in the comments below.