Tips for Couchsurfing
There is no 'right' way to Couchsurf: everyone has their own standards for what makes an inspiring experience. However, there are some tips and tricks that can help you on your way. And remember: when you enter a situation with an open mind, a flexible attitude, and a sense of humor, you're already well on your way to a good experience.
Before You Arrive
- CouchSearch with care. Choose your host carefully by reading her profile thoroughly. When you've chosen, be sure to write a personalized and thought-out Couch Request
- Discuss your plans. Some hosts want to spend a lot of time with their Couchsurfers; others are short on free time. Same for Couchsurfers. The first step to a good time is making sure your expectations match your host's.
- Make plans. Both you and your host should be clear on when you're arriving and where you'll meet. Be sure to carry your host's phone number in case of any confusion!
- Always have a back up plan. Don't forget your guidebook! If something comes up last minute and your host's plans change, be ready to find a hostel.
- Come prepared. Your host may offer you food during your stay, but always be ready to wing it. Bring groceries or enough cash to eat out. (If you do get treated to a meal, doing a little washing up or cooking the next night are nice ways to say thank you.)
- Discuss your schedule. Agree on your arrival and departure date ahead of time to avoid any miscommunication. If for any reason your plans change and you need to reschedule or cancel your stay, always give your host as much notice as possible.
During Your Stay
- Learn your host's guidelines. When you arrive, make sure you find out how your host's home runs. How and when can you come and go from the home? Is it ok for you to use the kitchen, the computer, or the phone? Is water or electricity particularly expensive in this city, and if so, what should you do to minimize your impact?
- When in doubt, ask. If something comes up that you haven't already discussed with your host, just ask. Permission to use the computer one time may not be permission to use it whenever you'd like, so make sure you're communicating clearly with your host throughout your stay.
- Make your schedule compatible with your host's. If your host is eager to spend time with you and show you around, it's a nice gesture to make time in your schedule for him. If he's busy and doesn't have much time to interact, find things to do on your own. Also, always talk to your host about when you'll be home.
- Follow your host's lead. Observe how your host behaves in her home and try to behave similarly. If she's a very neat person, be extra careful to keep yourself and your belongings tidy. If she's sleeping and you're awake, try not to disturb her.
- Leave things in better condition than you found them. If your host lends you something of his, be respectful of his possessions and his generosity.
- Never invite guests to your host's home. You should never bring unexpected people back to your host's place - particularly not that cute girl from the bar. Leave the party at the party, sailor.
- Don't be shy about showing appreciation. Most Couchsurfers like to do something nice when they have a good experience with their host. You can wash the dishes, fix her bicycle, cook a meal from your home country, or make an art project - whatever it is, your host will appreciate the thought even more than the gesture!
- Stick to your planned schedule. Be very wary of extending your stay. If you really like your host and would like to stick around longer, ask early and be specific about how long you'd like to extend.
After Your Stay
- Leave on a good note. When it's time to hit the road, make sure that you leave your host's things in better condition than you found them. If you borrowed anything, double check that you've returned it. If your host isn't at home when you leave, make sure that you know how to secure the door correctly.
- How to thank your host. If your host treated you well, be sure to leave her a positive reference so that other Couchsurfers can hear about it! If you had a really good connection with your host, a postcard from your next destination is always a nice way to say thanks.