Finding and Requesting a Couch

Before you take this step, make sure you've got the foundations laid. Take the time to make yourself a great profile that represents who you are, then brush up on what to look for when you browse other people's profiles. When you're ready, here's how to start looking for someone to share an inspiring experience with.

How to Find the Right Host

Tips for Searching

Consider sending CouchRequests to at least a few different hosts. The city and the time of year will affect how easy it is to find a couch. If you have trouble, searching for newer members might improve your chances as they're frequently less busy than the more experienced members. Also, check the option "Search by Map" and then zoom and pan the map to include areas that are outside the city but easy to access. People in the suburbs always get fewer requests and that improves your odds!.

If no one in a city seems like a good match for you, stay in a hostel. Never send a CouchRequest unless you've thought about the questions below:

Why do I want to stay with this host?

If your answer is something along the lines of, "I arrive in Cordoba tomorrow night and this person lives near the bus station," you have some more thinking to do. Nobody likes to feel like a free hostel. If you're choosing hosts the way you'd choose a dorm then don't expect to be too popular.

You're on the right track if your answer to this question is more like, "They love cooking and so do I," "I bet they have some interesting thoughts about music theory," or "We could have a crazy night out together." Know why you're interested in meeting this host, and let them know about it! After all, which sounds friendlier to you: "I need a place to crash," or "I'm really interested in hearing about your trip to China last year"?

Will I fit well in this host's home?

You are asking to be a guest in someone's home, which means you will need to adapt to their environment. Read their profile and make an honest decision about whether you'll be ok with the guidelines of your potential host's space. For instance, don't message a host who owns three cats if you're allergic. Don't try to stay with a host who has work at 6am if your big plan for a city is to hit the clubs. If you have specific things you'd like in a host -- say, that they keep kosher -- try using the keyword search option.

How to Write a Good CouchRequest

Don't neglect the details when you're starting a CouchRequest!

  • Name. Address your potential host by name. No one likes to answer to "hey you!"
  • Timing. Send your CouchRequest at a reasonable time--generally, one to four weeks before you arrive at a destination. It's difficult for hosts to plan for Surfers too far in advance or too last minute.
  • Arrival date. Give your host the most detailed information about your arrival time that you can. If your plans are still up in the air, that's fine: start a conversation with your potential host and figure out a time together.
  • Other travelers? If you're traveling with friends, always introduce them in your CouchRequest. If they're Couchsurfing members, link to their profiles--and make sure those profiles are filled out, including a photo. It won't help you out if you're asking to bring two little gray ghosts!
  • Make it personal. No matter how many CouchRequests you send out, every single one should be personal and thought out. Cut-and-paste CouchRequests don't impress many people. There are a lot of ways to personalize your request, but remember that the first step is to read every potential host's profile thoroughly.
  • Find common ground. You should show your potential host that you've read her profile and find it interesting. There are reasons you've chosen her, so let her know! Tell her what you might have in common or what you think you can share with her. If her profile mentions guidelines, such as how much time she can spend with Couchsurfers, let her know that you're ok with them.
  • Introduce yourself! Don't send your resume and life history, just let your potential host know why you think he'll enjoy getting to know you. It could be as simple as a description of your trip and a mention of your hobbies.
  • Be polite. Always follow up. If a member is unable to host you, send them a "thanks anyway" note. If a host offers you a couch, and you have made other arrangements, you need to let her know so that she isn't expecting you. Finally, if for any reason you need to cancel or change your travel plans, tell all your hosts right away! No one likes being stood up, particularly not by someone they haven't met yet.

Get Set, Go!

You're ready to find a couch! Once you've got your arrangements figured out, head over to Tips for Couchsurfing to get some tips on being a good guest. Happy Surfing!