Getting Started: How to Travel with Couchsurfing

So you'd like to surf some couches? Let's get you started!

Step One: Create Your Profile

If you haven't already, it's time to fill out your profile. First, read about how to make your profile as useful as possible. Then, go ahead and tell us about yourself !

Step Two: Learn How to Read a Couchsurfing Profile

When you're choosing to meet other members, reading their profile carefully is one of the most important steps you should take. It helps keep you safe, and helps you have more positive experiences. Read these tips to learn more.

Step Three: Start Connecting

The more friends and references you have, the easier it is to meet people. So before you start looking for a couch, it's a good idea to get out into the community.

The easiest way is to join or create an Activity near you. You can find a list of upcoming Activities on your dashboard or through CouchSearch. They can be anything from a casual bike ride to a giant party.
Don’t see anything you like? With just a few clicks you can create your own listing for other CouchSurfers to see and join.

You can also contact a nearby Ambassador to ask for advice. Ambassadors are active CS members who help support the community. To find one near you, set your location in CouchSearch, then on the left hand column under "Community" select "Ambassador."

You can also contact a nearby traveler. Find someone you'd like to get to know and offer to show them around your city, or invite them for a coffee.

If you'd prefer to meet a lot of CouchSurfers at once, try a local event. You can find one by searching the events listings. Also, the discussion group for your city will often have event announcements.

Step Four: Start CouchSearching

Don't leave it to the last minute -- you should start looking for couches at least a week before you leave. Couchsurfing members expect a thoughtful, personalized CouchRequest, so it's a good idea to read these tips carefully about how to put your best foot forward.

Step Five: Plan for Flexibility

Members might not be able to host you for as long as you like, their schedules may not be what you're used to, and in some cities it may be difficult to find a couch at all. Couchsurfing can be unpredictable -- that's part of the fun! When you're staying with a host, remember to work out your schedule carefully so that you fit easily into their home. This may sometimes mean altering your plans a bit. Always have enough back-up money to stay in a hostel if you can't find a host, or if something unexpected comes up. Make sure you have a map and guide of the city.

Step Six: Communicate Clearly About Your Plans

Make sure to follow up with everyone who responds to your CouchRequests. When someone accepts your request, make sure you correspond with them and work out exactly when and how you'll meet. If more than one host accepts, be sure to send notes to the others, thanking them and letting them know that you have found another couch.

Step Seven: CouchSurf!

You've found a couch, you've set up a meeting time with your host, and you're on your way! Read these tips for how to have the best possible experience.

Step Eight: Follow Up With a Reference

After your experience, the last thing to do is to write your host a reference. A reference is feedback you write that will appear on your host's profile, describing the interaction you had with them. Please read about what references are and how they work, then go to your host's profile and leave your reference.

Step Nine: Learn More

Read the rest of our tips to learn about how to get the most out of Couchsurfing!

And that's your first Couchsurfing experience! As you CouchSurf more the process becomes second nature, but you should always follow this basic set of steps, all the way from reading profiles carefully to leaving a considered reference.