Getting Started With CouchSurfing: Cheat Sheet

Posted by:     Tags:      Posted date:  December 15, 2010  |  2 Comments
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This is Part 2 in the Art Of CouchSurfing Awesomely Series: Getting Started With CouchSurfing.

So you want to couchsurf but don’t know how? This cheat sheet will give you enough information to get started!

1. Sell Yourself
Perhaps the biggest mistake new members make is to have an incomplete profile. Put yourself in your potential host’s shoes: you are a complete stranger, they have never met you and there’s little or no information on your profile. Would you host someone like that? Most people would say no.

Do yourself a favour and invest a couple of hours on making your profile look good. This is your “resume”. Go to an internet cafe if you have to. Remember, that’s still cheaper than paying for a hostel.

2. Be A Groupie
You can use CouchSurfing like a service while you are traveling or you can become a valuable participant of a global community. Consider being a participant. You will get so much more out of it and in the long-run it’ll be easier to find couches. The best way to get started is to join your local city CouchSurfing discussion group. There are interest groups you can join as well, but city groups tend to be the most active. And when you’re traveling, join the groups for the cities you’re visiting – to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening.

3. Join The Conversation

Travelers will often post questions to local city groups. You don’t need to become a discussion forum addict but it’s good to help answer and contribute value when you can.

4. Disconnect To Connect
The primary purpose of CouchSurfing is to facilitate offline interaction with other members. This is what differentiates this community with many other social networks. Most major city groups have regular meet-ups (sometimes called “meetings” or “events”) each week. Also sometimes meet-ups are organized informally within local city CS groups and only posted there.
Know that as a general rule, people accept “friend-requests” and write references only after meeting them in-person. (more on this in Part 5: How To Network Awesomely With CouchSurfers)

6. Dude, where’s your couch?
Ever heard of the saying “the best way to get love is to give love”? It’s the same with couches! Before you go traveling (or if you are a slow traveler) consider hosting couchsurfers before you start couchsurfing. Think of it as karma, and start banking it before asking for a withdrawal.

Even if you are unavailable to host, you can contribute to the community by organizing meet-ups or volunteering for the organization. Don’t make excuses! (more on this in Part 6: How To Be A Good CouchSurfing Host)

7. I Can Has Couch?
So you want to stay on a stranger’s couch for free huh? Ok, here’s how you do it.
First, do a CouchSearch in your chosen city a couple of weeks before. Second, read through the profiles on the results pages and select one or more people who you feel you could connect with. Third, click on the “CouchSurf with…” button to send requests to those people. Try to put a bit of effort in these requests and at least not make it so obvious that you just sent the same generic message to the last 30 people. (more on this in Part 8: How To Find A Couch)

8. Mind Your Manners
You don’t have to buy gifts for your hosts. You don’t have to feed your guests. You can show gratitude for you hosts without having to spend money on them (e.g. you could clean or cook a meal). You can show hospitality to your guests without having to spend money on them (eg. you could show them around town). You want to develop a connection, not make a transaction. (more on this in Part 7: How To Be A Good CouchSurfer)

9. Don’t Cry Wolf
Try to resist the temptation to use Emergency groups to find couches, except in genuine emergencies. Simply put, emergency groups are a less safe way to couchsurf. Even though most hosts are lovely people, everyone has different rules and expectations in their “Couch Information” section. In the event of a genuine emergency, it is always important to read your host’s profile and to review references, for your own safety. (more on this in Part 9: Safety 3rd)

Next up is Part 3 in the Art Of CouchSurfing Awesomely Series: The Different Kinds of CouchSurfing Hosts

cruisesurfer’s log sea-date: 38:4:2 | 24:46

About Me

In 2004, I sold everything I owned and left New Zealand to go see the world. In that time, I've run with bulls in Pampolona, watched the Man burn at Black Rock City, volunteered at a special-needs summer camp in New York, hosted & couchsurfed with 100+ people, taught English in Prague, trained with Muay Thai fighters in Phuket, worked on 5 different cruise ships, hugged strangers on streets in 7 countries and this one time, I even hitchhiked naked (but that was back home, so that doesn't really count). I moved to Vancouver, BC in 2012, to embark on new adventures. It's nice here, I think I may stay awhile! Let's connect: @roymarvelous, facebook & RSS.

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