5 biggest problems with Couchsurfing. And how you can avoid them!
Even after traveling for 4 years and being hosted by over 50 Couchsurfing members, I still experience situations that are not understandable for me. I still have moments of doubts and sometimes I make unpredictable decisions. But at the end of the day, I truly love this portal. If not the Couchsurfing community I would never meet my best friends, my boyfriend (okay, ex-boyfriend, but it was a cool experience), and would never have amazing night moto rides or pizza on the beach, or island parties, or sunsets in the mountains.
But there are problems that the Couchsurfing community has been experiencing and you must avoid it so to stay on a safe side.
1. How much Couchsurfing costs?
No, no, no! It costs you kindness and generosity. I have seen so many hosts who ask travelers to contribute 5-15€ because water is not free or apples in the kitchen are expensive or any other shit. Avoid this kind of CS members. People open the doors to their homes because they are willing to do so. Because they understand how traveling can develop each of us. And why not to help some brave people who decided to go and experience the world. So no money!
On the other hand, there is a life-time Couchsurfing verification that you might want to get. It gives you an unlimited amount of requests you send. And it will cost you 60$. But it is your choice!
Also if you host, you can get an automatic verification for 1 year. All you need is to offer your place, get accepted, both leave a reference. More about it here.
2. Couchsurfing is a new Hotel
There are thousands of travelers who disrespect the community and treat it, let’s say, badly. They simply come to their host, leave the backpacks, and come back at night being drunk or high. They never try to get to know the person who shares the roof with them. It simply sucks, because what is the point then of Couchsurfing then?
But it goes both ways. The hosts might also have no willing to get to know the travelers. I have had some situations when I felt like I was more for the decoration than for the integration. There is the type of hosts who try to put you under the control and give you orders every minute.
I advise you politely apologize and leave. There are tons of kinder people out there and I believe we, travelers, deserve the best experience when traveling.
3. Couchsurfing or maybe Tinder?
Okay, let’s differentiate them. Couchsurfing is designed to help travelers and exchange some adventure experience. You meant to become friends, soulmates or future travel mates. Of course, we are all human beings and you may like each other. I met my ex-boyfriend when he hosted me in Nuremberg, Germany. I stayed with him for 3 days and when a week passed, we both understood that there was something more between us than just funny talks. I have a number of friends who date their formal hosts till today.
But! There is but! You, as a host, or you, as a traveler, can not manipulate and push another party to any closer connection. I have heard some stories when a host liked a girl and was flirting with the female couchsurfer. She felt like she had no choice as she didn’t want to risk her roof for the upcoming nights.
I had a host in Hamburg, who was a pretty nice guy besides the fact that all he talked about was just sex. He was giving me dozens of hints that he would not mind to have sex in case I want to. I got super cold with him and tried to spend less time together. All went good. He never touched me. But this is a thing. It is NOT Tinder.
4. Are Couchsurfing hosts reliable?
Here is the thing, we all live our unpredictable lives. And yes, sometimes shit happens and a host informs that he is unable to accept you just a couple of hours before the actual meeting. In such cases, it would be nice if the host provides you with other option, like friend’s couch, cheap hostel recommendation, or a simple explanation of what has happened.
How many times have my hosts canceled on me? Dozens! When I was going to Malta, my host canceled our stay at 6 am, and we had to meet him at around 10 am. He got sick. And that’s okay.
Here is what you, as a traveler, have to do. Always! Always have a plan B. We are all people. We all may face force majeure. But you are responsible for your good and safety.
I always write a short message explaining my current situation and that I need a place for tonight to all the people who replied to my original request. Even if they replied no, ask them if they may know someone who could host you for a night.
Didn’t work? Go to Couchsurfing Hangouts and ask people there if someone can share their roof with you. Be as polite as possible.
Didn’t work? Go to Couchsurfing Groups for Last-minute requests or Urgent Help.
5. Short Requests – You will be declined
This is how life works – if there is not enough effort, there is no outcome. I’m not saying you have to write a poem or send your CV to the host, but you have to explain who on Earth you are. Here is how I do it.
- Greetings + Host’s Name
- Explain my background (Home country, where I studied, what I studied)
- How long have you been traveling for? (Overall, or your current trip)
- What are you planning to do in this city?
- Who are you traveling with?
- Mention some things in common with your host (Same music taste, countries you both visited, languages you both speak)
- Have some fun closing.
You are not writing a work application letter. Take it easy but try to show who you really are.
Here are some of the requests I have sent to my hosts. But remember, just write from your heart, cause you will be leaving together.