Searching and requesting a couch
In advance: Hosts are naturally concerned about security, and the more that they know about you, the more likely that they will be willing to host you; accordingly, the more detailed your profile is, the better. So fill in your own profile page with interesting (true!) information about yourself, and be sure to upload a photograph of yourself - again, that helps the host to decide yes or no.
Searching for a couch
- If the profile says "Coffee or a drink", that means the surfer cannot host anyone at the moment. But it does mean that they would love to chill with you during the day, show you around, etc, but you just can't crash there.
- Don't just contact the top five hosts in any city - they are probably inundated with requests. Explore the other pages in your search results too.
- Especially with big and popular CS cities, try searching couches further away from the main city area. These people get less requests and are thus more likely to host.
- Be sure to read a potential host's profile thoroughly to understand any conditions they might have set, e.g. only one guest at a time, maximum three nights, vegetarians only, etc.
- Women: choose women's couches, if you feel safer with them. See also the Tips for solo women.
Requesting a couch
- Be specific about your intended arrival and departure dates and times - that helps the host to decide yes or no. (And they don't want to wait for you all day!)
- If possible, send a request well in advance
- In some cases, you will have to plan a month in advance. Others do not require that much time. Remember: some hosts in popular places receive more than ten requests each week!
- If requesting a last minute couch:
- Check the last login time and place (potential host who just logged in from the other side of the world is very unlikely to host you)
- Still read the profile carefully - being in a hurry is no excuse to be ignorant
- A few days before you get there, remind your host you'll be arriving soon.
- If you have special needs or request (i. e. allergies) mention them in advance.
- Try to identify interests between you and your hosts. Many hosts are willing to basically provide a free hotel, but it is more interesting for the host if they know something about your background or can learn something even when you are just stopping in to rest at night.
- Be specific if you have special plans for the city or region.
- Ask about the couch: air-mattress, couch, bed of your own
- Ask about the location of the couch (separate room or couch in a 1-room-apartment/loft).
- Ask if sleeping bag is needed or if sheets are provided.
- Ask if there will be other CouchSurfers or guests at that time.
- Ask about public transportation options. Can you get to the city center without riding with your host? Is there a good train or bus system near their home? Is there a reliable taxi service you can use? (If you are uncomfortable staying somewhere that has no public transport available, you may want to rethink your destination.)
- Ask for needed information (phone number, adress, ...)
- If possible, you could ask your host to meet you in advance at any certain place.
- Also look at tips about Keeping in touch cheaply when travelling
- If you change your plans and don't plan to arrive after all, tell your host as soon as possible. Hosts are generously providing their couches for you! Be respectful of their lives and plans!
- DECLINE A HOST IF YOU DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE. It is OK to do this! You are allowed to change your mind, but be respectful and let them know in advance of your decision.
- Have a back-up plan! Have addresses and phone numbers of a hostel in the surrounding area, just in case.
Asking more than one host at the same time
Asking more than one member for a couch increases your chances to finally get a couch when/as you want it. This is quite ok, especially when you're in a hurry or your dates are fixed. But please keep in mind: When hosts agree to host you then they will definitely have made changes in their schedule - just for you. So
- Don't flood the community with requests. Try to filter out only a few hosts-to-be by carefully reading profiles.
- Decide as soon as possible for one host.
- Tell any other immediately that you will not make use of their offer. Don't let somebody prepare your stay in vain. Remember: you had time enough to ask, they invested their time to think about it and to give you a positive response. So whatever hurry you are in, you must have the time to write at least a short message.
- Maybe you can „meet them for a coffee or a drink“ instead.
(Groups related to the city, region or country are not recommended to search couches. But in case of emergency [budget traveling is not an emergency] it's an option to ask around there if people are interested in hosting you.)
Travelling from one couch to the next
- If you are leaving your host, make sure you have planned the next segment of your trip properly (by rideshare, bus, train, etc.)
- Consider having a plan to contact your former host upon arrival at your new destination. Before you leave, set a latest possible time with them by which you should have got into contact to let them know you're ok. That way, if there is no sign of you by the decided upon time, your former host can probably act immediately in case something has happened.
- Contact your new host in advance: fix dates, set time of arrival, tell them about the method of arrival, etc
- Always get the address of a hostel in the surroundings, just in case.
- Find out who the ambassadors in the area are. Even if you're not surfing with them, they can be a valuable resource to you.
No host or other accommodation is available?
Stay at a hostel or look for a camping site. I. e. check out these sites: