In today’s world, traveling is more difficult than ever. Flights cost more than they have in years, but are less comfortable. And, to add insult to injury, charge you for anything and everything they can, after you’ve already paid for your ticket. Trains are no better, and take longer to arrive. Hotels are expensive, and those that are usually managed to a less-than-ideal standard.
But the troubles don’t end there. Vacation leave is hard to get, with some particularly difficult bosses making veiled threats of termination if you take off during a busy period, and others simply finding different ways to deprive you of vacation days altogether. With hurdles like these, getting time off for a vacation at all can be a task in and of itself!
If you’re having trouble with these difficulties, we’ve got some good news that should lift your spirits and make you rethink the way you go on holiday. This good news comes in the form of a service that connects hospitable homeowners with open-minded travelers, so that those accommodation seekers don’t have to go broke to spend time in the best vacation destinations around the world.
If this sounds like something you and your traveling partner (if you’ve got one) would be interested in, keep reading! Couchsurfing.com can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on accommodations; what’s more, you might just gain a few good friends along the way!
How does Couchsurfing work?
The concept of Couchsurfing is fairly simple. Every user has the option to host guests or request to stay with a host. When you’re traveling, you can send requests to hosts in the area you’re planning to visit, and when you’re home you can offer your spare room, couch or floor to couch surfers looking for a place to stay.
There is a minimal monthly prescription that must be paid that comes out to around $3 a month, which is negligible when you compare it to what the service can help you save. This fee helps the service with upkeep for their platform, so their developers can keep the service running smoothly and reliably.
While hosting guests isn’t a requirement, hosting helps the community thrive, and helps you find hosts more easily when you’re travelling. Users who have reviews from guests as well as hosts are far more likely to find a host in their destination city, as users recognize and respect your hospitality and open-mindedness.
Couchsurfing safety precautions
Now, before we go into any more detail regarding what Couchsurfing entails exactly, we have to answer one burning question you probably have: is Couchsurfing safe? The answer should reassure you, if you have any reservations about the service. The answer to this question is a resounding “yes!”
Couchsurfing has implemented a variety of different safety measures that keep it safe and fun for everyone, so you don’t have to worry about anything during your trip. The first of these safety features is a well designed review system, where guests can rate their hosts, and vice versa. Reviews are public, so you can see a host or guest’s review before accepting or sending a request.
Secondly, an in-depth verification system is also available, for an added layer of security. Although completing the verification process is not required to use the service, doing so will help you find hosts more easily, or help potential guests in their decision to stay with you or not.
Despite these features, it’s always a good idea to exercise caution when choosing hosts and guests. Always read reviews before accepting or sending a request, and follow your intuition. If something seems off, it’s advisable that you find a different guest or host. For added safety, travel with a partner or friend, so you have people to rely on.
Should you use Couchsurfing?
Now, it goes without saying that couch surfing is not for everyone. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether or not Couchsurfing is a good idea for you. Your age, the number of people in your traveling group and the number of destinations you plan to visit all have a hand in determining whether or not this is for you.
In general, Couchsurfing is best for younger travelers, who are willing to do things that are down for a more adventurous style of traveling. Couchsurfing is also best done solo or in groups of two to three people. Although larger homes may be able to host more than three people, hosts that are willing to do this are not common and you may have to make concessions on sleeping arrangements.
Couchsurfing advantages and disadvantages
As with any other thing of this nature, Couchsurfing is not without its downsides. There are a few things to know before you head off on your vacation, and it’s best that you be aware of them sooner rather than later. In the following section, we’ll go over some of the various advantages and disadvantages of Couchsurfing.
One of the greatest and most obvious advantages of couch surfing is the savings. When you use couch surfing, you save money every night you don’t stay in a hotel or motel. If you’re on a longer trip, you can end up saving a ton on the cost of accommodation. In areas where accommodation is exceptionally costly, it’s not uncommon to dodge hundreds or even thousands in accommodation costs.
While Couchsurfing is convenient in that it can save you a lot of money, it’s also inconvenient in that you may have to plan your vacation weeks or months in advance. Spur of the moment accommodation is very difficult to find on Couchsurfing, and if you’re planning to use the service you’ll need to plan your trip down to the last T.
Pro: new experiences, new friends
One of the unique aspects of Couchsurfing is the people you meet while hosting or accepting others’ hospitality. Couchsurfing isn’t just a way to find a place to sleep for the night; it’s a way to make new friends. Hosts are usually more than happy to help visitors feel more at home in their city, and will often give you an insider’s tour of their city if they have time.
This makes for a very dynamic type of experience, one that completely circumvents the boring, shallow cliches of ordinary tourism. With the help of your host, you can avoid the costly tourist traps and venture off the beaten path, and get a closer, more intimate look at the real culture of the place you’re in.
Con: uncomfortable quarters
On the other hand, Couchsurfing is a very informal experience, and your hosts will often have no more to offer than a futon, sofa or just a mattress on the floor. While more rugged travellers will most likely be fine with this, those seeking luxury will be hard pressed to find it using Couchsurfing. This service is probably not for you if you’re looking for decadence!
Pro: cultural and linguistic insight
For those planning a trip abroad or receiving international visitors, another great advantage of Couchsurfing is the wealth of cultural and linguistic insight you’ll be treated to by using the service. Couchsurfer has users from every corner of the world, and they are always happy to share their culture and language with anyone who cares to do the same.
If you are learning a language, hosting or staying with a user from the language’s country of origin will give you a valuable opportunity to learn more from the point of view of a native speaker. After a little while, you may learn more from your guests and hosts than you did from your textbooks!
Although it may not be for everyone, the world of Couchsurfing opens up a myriad of new possibilities for travellers around the world to experience new things and save tons of money on their travels. It can provide unique insight into other cultures and languages, and offers an opportunity to make friends in cities around the world. It really is an incredible opportunity; so why not give it a try?
Did you enjoy this article? Want to ask a question, or leave some feedback? Leave us a comment in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon possible. Our readers are our top priority, and making sure you have a great experience on our platform is very important to us. From our team to you, enjoy Couchsurfing!