Sunday, 18 June 2017

How To Find A Great Couchsurfing Host Every Time

Dublin, Ireland

Before I used Couchsurfing I'd heard of the travel community and it's service but I had no firsthand experience with it until I travelled to London back in March. Today I want to share with you all some things I did that will ensure you find a great Couchsurfing host every time.

Back in March, not quite knowing what I was doing, I downloaded the app and started messaging people. Looking back on it there are a number of things things I may have done differently, like perhaps read more about the community itself but there are a few things I did that were instrumental in finding my awesome host Shilpa. You can find out why that first experience with CS was so great here.

1) Read Before You Seek 

I know firsthand from my London host that it's pretty obvious when people message you without reading your profile first. They send a generic message that they've probably messaged a bunch of other people. 

Not only does it show little respect for the person you are essentially asking to be let into their home but it shows that you're not necessarily interested in getting to know your host. Some hosts are fine with simply letting you crash but most people in the community will want to get to know the stranger on their floor or couch. Plan for an evening together or a day doing fun things with your host, why are you visiting a new city if not to meet some new people?

If you're not bothered to do the bare minimum and read their profile before sending them a message, what makes you think they'll want to invite you into their homes? Most hosts will often leave a message or ask a question in their profile which you'll have to answer when you message them so they know you actually read their profiles.

2) Find People With Common Interests

If you look at Couchsurfing as a way to simply save money on your travels, you're really missing out on the point of the service which is to meet other like minded people. So with that at the forefront of your hunt for a host, why are you messaging a devote catholic when you are a hardcore atheist? What are you going to talk about? The weather? Or do you plan on avoiding the topic the entire time because trust me, it won't work.

Reach out to hosts with common interests with whom you can talk to and enjoy their company. It'll add tenfold to your trip because they may introduce you to their friends who will most likely be like yourself and BAM you're making new friends in a new city. 

Just because you need a place to crash doesn't mean that's what your host wants too. And if you're open minded about getting to learn something new then yes message that host. Since you read their profile you know they're into Kayaking and they're willing to host you, you'd love to try Kayaking too. In exchange you may even teach them a language you know that they may not know ( again from reading their profile, you'll know what languages they know. )

3 ) Be Respectful & Open-Minded

There are many different people using Couchsurfing all over the world. They don't all look like you, speak the same language as you or live a lifestyle you may be have encountered before. Be open-minded about the people you will meet as everyone will surprise you.

It's also important to remember to be respectful to those we come across, if someone offers you a stay and you are not comfortable, it is okay to say no but not okay to be rude about it. You don't have to get defensive or pushy and start questioning the person. They said no so move on.

It's all love and peace and hippy stuff, push yourself a little out of your comfort zone where safe to do so and enjoy meeting new people.

Check out my London Video Diary here and some tips on how to shoot your own travel vlogs ( once you finish this post of course ).

4) Be Genuine & Honest

If you know how long you're going to be visiting, state this when requesting. Don't try to sneak in a day and ALWAYS ALWAYS clarify with the host the number of days they have agreed to. Monday to Wednesday could mean to the host the nights of Monday and Tuesday but you think you have three nights sorted. Don't fall into this as I did, if you're unsure ask because it comes across as really dishonest and if you're doing it on purpose, well that's just plane wrong.

Be genuine, don't alter your personality to match theirs knowing that you wouldn't befriend them if you weren't looking to sleep on their couch. Be yourself and look for a friend not just a host. Also keep in mind that your potential hosts are busy people and may take a while to reply so instead of messaging anyone and everyone, wait for people to reply. If you are genuine about wanting to stay with someone, you'd wait for at least a day to see if you get a reply back. 

I would message maybe 2-3 people that I really like and connect with and wait for a reply before looking again. This way you're not going to end up with multiple potential hosts and have to turn people down and it's less messy.

5) Get Verified or Give Lots of Information and Talk to Your Host

I'm not going to push this verification thing because when I am still not verified yet. At first it was because I wasn't sure if I would yield anything from the service so I didn't want to waste money and I haven't used since London so I haven't had a need to but I will be verified next time I use it. You are only allowed 10 free messages when you first join Couchsurfing so if you follow these tips, you may still have 4 messages left like myself.

However to make up for the fact that as an unverified couchsurfer only messaging verified accounts ( I know, the hypocrisy ) , I knew I would have to provide a lot of information about myself. I mean at the end of the day verified or not, I still wanted as much information as I could on the person I was messaging and I imagined any potential host would be the same.

I added my Facebook, blog and social media links to my profile so that hosts I message would see this and know about me. Harking back to my first point, some hosts do also link to their Facebooks and sites so ALWAYS read profiles. Try to have a small conversation with your host beforehand so you can get some idea of the chemistry you may have.

It may even be a good idea to meet in a public place for an hour or two before heading back to their place. Always get all the information you need to make sure that you are safe and be sure to pass that on to someone back home if possible.

With any service, safety always comes first!

Okay, okay so that is all my tips ( at least for now ) on how to find a great Couchsurfing host every time you use the service.  

Is there anything I missed? Let me know below in the comments.

And before I go just a quick reminder about the survey I created to get to know you guys and what you enjoy about Albatroz & Co. I want to make sure that you're always getting the best of everything here.  I'd really appreciate your honest feedback and can't wait to read them. 

Till next time my pretties 


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2 comments so far

  1. I've only been couchsurfing once in London also! My friend and I stayed with a lovely Iranian guy in Kilburn. We made him dinner one night and went for pints with a group of friends also and it was one of the best travel experiences I've had yet.

    1. That's sounds so fun Edel! Meeting new people makes traveling 1000 times more fun especially when you get on great and they introduce you to more people. I got my host some prezzies from the market cause I can't cook for the life of me hahaha I wouldn't subject anyone to my edible..just edible food hahaha


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