If you are new to Couchsurfing or have never heard of it before, you will definitely want to read further.
I was inspired to write this post because my mom has been Couchsurfing all over Europe at the age of 61 years old. She is living life to the fullest, even on a tight budget! A lot of people get the idea that only rich people can travel when that is not the case at all.
You can travel on almost any budget, all you have to do is keep a strict budget during your travels and when you are at home.
My mom is currently couch surfing in Switzerland and she's already a pro at it. The site is pretty easy to use, no matter how much experience you've had on a computer.
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Here are some of my quick tips on how to get started with Couchsurfing and how you can easily travel the world without paying any accommodation fees. More importantly, you'll be staying with a host that is living in the country. They'll possibly be able to show you all of the hot spots in the country, and also all the areas off the beaten path. Remember that Couchsurfing is not a hotel. These hosts are sharing their home with complete strangers, so you should remember to be not only as clean as possible but to also treat them with the utmost kindness.
Here is a book on Europe that will help you get familiar with the country. And maybe even a little inspired! =)
1. Find someone safe.
It's very important to find a safe, respectable host while you are traveling. Since you'll most likely be alone and traveling in an area you aren't familiar with, it's important to find a host that has many positive references.
It's common sense to pick someone that does NOT have negative references, but there are also times when surfers can be a little rude as well, so don't always stick by the references. If a person has 50 positive references and one or two bad ones, you could let that slip by.
2. Don't expect the host to wait on you hand and foot.
They are there to host, not to be your nonstop tour guide. You should expect yourself to venture off on your own as well. Experience new places, people, languages with new people that are not only your host.
You can also find people that are in the country on couch surfing that is not currently hosting but looking to meet up with travelers. There are even meetings in certain cities and countries for couchsurfers. You can only all of this on the Couchsurfing website.
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3. Don't stumble into their home at 3 AM drunk.
This is obvious and common sense, but I felt it was necessary to say anyway. Some hosts might be OK with this, and who knows, they will probably even go out with you and stumble in at 3 AM together.
If not, always make sure what the hosts expect and if there are any rules they like to live by. Some hosts like to stay away from drugs altogether and it would be very rude to bring any of that around into their home.
4. Don't ask someone to host you, and then drop it last minute for no good reason.
They expected you to come. Especially if it's a high demand area where a lot of people are looking for hosts, that will make dropping it even worse. Look forward to a negative reference written on your profile that people will continue to read while you are on the website. If you say you're going to be there, then be there.
Also, I've read many references from people that just up and left the hosts house without a goodbye or simple thank you. Do NOT do this. This seems to be common sense, but again many people do it.
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5. Give a gift.
It's not necessary, but it's kind to give some kind of gift to your host. Though many don't expect this nor expect one, it's still nice to do a little something. You could even offer to do their dishes, clean the bathroom or things like that. It doesn't always have to be a gift.
And, of course, it's always nice to offer for them to stay in your home as well if they ever visit. Even if you can't currently host them, you might be able to in the future.
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Have you ever gone Couchsurfing or been a host at one point? Would you ever participate in something like this?
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