This is Part 6 of the Art of CouchSurfing Awesomely Series.
One of the first things most people will say when they hear about CouchSurfing is “Wow, It’s completely free?” Invariably people will say yes or explain that’s it’s not just about free accomodation. Personally, that answer doesn’t really sink in until you’ve been a member from both perspectives – as a host and a guest.
What Is CouchSurfing?
CouchSurfing connects travelers with locals around the world. Members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding. Our mission as an organization is to create inspiring experiences: cross-cultural encounters that are fun, engaging, and illuminating.
Basically, CouchSurfing is a network to connect with other awesome people from all around the world. It doesn’t mean that every CouchSurfer is awesome, it just means there is probably a higher percentage of meeting awesome people who will change your life
than you would find in everyday life.
But It’s Still Free Though Right?
Yes and no. From a traditional finance perspective, you will not be paying money for your stay. It’s not a financial transaction, it’s a karma investment that you should one day pay forward. Far too many people see CouchSurfing as an easy way to get a free couch while they travel, then they go home and forget about it. It’s like going to a potluck with absolutely nothing and then eating your fill. No one will say anything but you are still an asshole. Don’t be that asshole.
The biggest problem for people who’s biggest motivator is to save money, is that everything else is secondary, especially safety. People start cutting corners – they send CouchRequests indiscrimitely and lurk in Emergency groups. They don’t bother reading references or their couch information section which may give you clues. Eg. A male who only hosts females and they have to share his king-sized bed in New York (true story) is probably dodgy. I’m sorry, there’s being open-minded and then there’s being stupid. Be open-minded but don’t be stupid.
However, when cultural immersion and inspiring experiences are your primary motivators, safety becomes just as important. Because for you to have a positive cultural experience you have to get along well with your host.
So Why Isn’t CouchSurfing Safe?
Because nothing in life is guaranteed to be 100% safe. You could get knocked down crossing the road today. You could choke on a baked bean and die tomorrow. An asteroid may actually hit the Earth and cause a Mayan apocalypse in 2012. All you can do is take steps to be safer (like look both ways before crossing the road, chew your food and avoid asteroids).
So practise safer CouchSurfing.
What Is Safer CouchSurfing?
1. The first rule of safer CouchSurfing is to be selective.
2. Understand what your comfort level is safety-wise and make no apologies for it.
4. Let friends know your plans and make sure to have emergency funds for a hostel.
5. References are a great way to do a “background” check on people to get an idea of what their personality is like and if it’s someone you’d like to hang out with. E.g. If you hate astronauts, don’t couchsurf with one!
Next week is Part 7 in the Art Of CouchSurfing Awesomely Series: How To Be An Awesome CouchSurfing Host
So what tips can you add for safer CouchSurfing?
[cruisesurfer’s log sea-date: 81:8:2 | 4:48]