This page will help you get started and involved quickly on CouchSurfing.com
Official CS Cheat Sheet
Join the Club
- Go to the Groups section and search using some keywords eg. New York or Prague. Your search can be based on interests as well of course eg. Birds or Sushi.
- A great group to join is your local city/country group. It's the first place where local CS parties or gatherings are advertised. Note: If you do a search on your city eg. Warsaw, you may come up with a few results. Check each out to see which group best suits your needs.
Don't be a stranger
- Post to your groups to say hello.
- Or perhaps search for people in your city and send them a hello message.
- Or say hello to nearby travelers.
- Or see who's online and say hello.
- The best (and most fun way) to learn more about Couchsurfing is to go to one of the Couchsurfing gatherings in your area. A "gathering" usually has a specific agenda - ice-skating, dinner, going to the park or having a few drinks. Don't worry, it's not going to be some weird cult meeting with chanting, incense and a sacrificial goat.
- Can't find any local gatherings? You can also search for Couchsurfers in your area and ask them if they know of any future gatherings. Sometimes they are organized informally within your city's CS Group
Everyone has to start somewhere. If you're a new member, perhaps try meeting up with other CSers in your city first for coffee and a chat. They'd also be able to give you some advice and I'm sure they'd have some interesting stories to tell. With some luck, you'll also make a new friend and get a reference. People can be hesitant to host someone with absolutely no contacts or references.
Dude, where's my couch?
- So you finally want to Couchsurf but don't know how? How about some tips and How to write a CouchRequest!
- NOTE 1: If you are looking for a couch, you may have better luck contacting hosts directly with the CouchSearch feature than by posting a request in a group. If you do decide to post publicly to the group, try not to fill the page up with couch requests - if there's already a couch request on the front page, consider adding your request to that thread rather than making a new one.
- NOTE 2: Many CS Groups have their own guidelines (so do try to read them before posting). If the group expressly says "No CouchRequests in this group" please respect it. But if it is an genuine emergency (eg. you are already in the city and your host is ill) people will forgive you.
- The best way to find a couch is to do a CouchSearch in your chosen city, read through the profiles on the results page(s), select one or more people that you feel some connection with (perhaps because of similar values, interests or experiences), then send private requests to those people via their profile page.
- Always remember that the host is doing the surfer a favour. Never take that for granted. Hosts have their own lives too. Hosting takes up time that could be spent on other things. Surfers will always need a host more than a host would ever "need to host". After all, you're asking a host to invite you - a total stranger - into his/her home and give you free accommodation. This community works because people believe in "Pay it forward". Having said that, this is not a free hostel. Please don't treat it like one, as your host may ask you to leave (or you may not be hosted at all!).
- If you have a complete profile, with a photo, your chances of being hosted improve 1,000,000%. Common sense, right? Yes, it does take time to complete your profile but hey, you're the one who wants free accommodation and/or to meet new people. An empty profile makes you look like a freeloader. It's like applying for a job with a half-written resume going "but trust me I'm really good for this job". Suuuure buddy.
- Please use the "CouchSurf with..." button above your potential host's photo rather than the "Send email to..." button. That makes it 100% clear that you're asking to surf someone's couch, not just sending them a friendly hello message (lots of people send very vaaaaaague messages - if you want to surf a couch, you need to say so explicitly). Also, when you use the "CouchSurf with..." button, the system asks you to specify essential information such as your expected arrival and departure dates. The system also uses the "CouchSurf with..." feature to calculate members' "CouchSurf emails replied to" statistics.
- Always specify your proposed (or at least estimated) arrival AND departure dates - no matter how friendly you are and no matter how fascinating your profile page is, it's impossible for your potential host to decide whether to host you unless he/she knows that information. And remember, some hosts get LOTS of requests that they have to juggle.
- Please try to read people's profile and at least address them by their name. Writing "hi there" suggests you are just copy/pasting - not polite. Also it's good to find out whether you share at least one thing in common!
- Please also read people's profile thoroughly, especially their couch information, to see whether they've indicated any preferences about smokers/non-smokers, vegetarians/meat-eaters, male/female guests, straight/gay guests, maximum length of stay, maximum number of guests at any one time, etc. And please respect those preferences - don't waste time sending a request if you clearly don't fit the host's stipulated preferences.
- Try to pick newer or less busy hosts. Your chances are higher than trying to pick the most popular or busiest hosts. It's nice for newer hosts to also have the experience of hosting someone fun!
- Don't forget to write a reference about every one of your hosts after you've couchsurfed. It's a way to show gratitude and also to inform other members about your experience. Be honest and if it is a negative reference, give a factual description - the safety of Couchsurfing relies on this.
Uh, where's your mates?
- Don't invite all your friends to Couchsurfing! Just the ones who you think will use it and benefit from it. There's no point for them to join and then have a dormant profile. Having said that, it's good to spread the word. It's not a secret society. Refer now!
- Personal connections. Once you start meeting people on Couchsurfing, you may start to get "CS friend link requests". Remember to respond to pending Friendship requests. Important: The security of Couchsurfing depends on you accurately filling in the fields. But you do not have to leave a Reference for everyone you meet, especially if it is only for an Acquaintance.
Stop bugging me
- You can update your Privacy settings if you like.
- When you subscribe to groups, remember to specify if you want Instant Updates, Daily Digests, Weekly Digests or No Communication for each group. If you choose No Communication, group messages for that particular group will NOT be forwarded to your email Inbox. But you can still go your groups link in Couchsurfing and read the messages there.