Hey ladies,

In a lot of my recent posts I’ve been name-dropping a little website called couchsurfing. Couchsurfing has become extremely popular, but I realized there probably are some readers out there who don’t know about it or would like a little more insider information before getting started. I’ve got almost too much to say about the CS project and all of my personal experiences with it, so I’ve decided to do a bit of a mini series. Here I’ll tackle the basics of the site and later move on to address various aspects of CS that I often am questioned about.


Couchsurfing is a hospitality sharing website that is free to join and use, though donation is a good way to support the site and get location verified so other CSers know you’re more legit. Like any social media site, you sign up, log in, post pictures, and create a profile that shares some information about you. In addition, you provide info about whether you’re offering a couch and, if so, some basic stuff about your home and preferences (Do you allow smokers inside? Have cats? Live close to downtown?). If you’re offering to host, you then sit back and wait for potential surfers to contact you, decide if you’re free and want to host them, and arrange to meet. If you’re looking for a place to stay, you perform a “couch search” for your destination of choice, send messages to hosts that you’re interested in staying with, and wait for responses.

A good idea is to sign up at the same time as a friend or find other people that you know who already use couch surfing so that they can write you references. References are one of the most important aspects of CS because they provide a system of giving feedback, therefore creating accountability. If people see that you have lots of positive references, they assume that you’re invested in CS and less likely to do something negative in their home. If you have no references, people are often more hesitant to have you come over. That being said, you should only leave positive references for people you do know and trust in order to keep it reliable.

The site can also be used to connect with companions for coffee, drinks, events, or even a bit of sightseeing (some people really love to play tour guide). When I moved to Budapest I used it to meet up with people who could give me advice about the city and get me connected to what sort of things were going on under the surface. I also mentioned in my post about Balkan parties that it’s a good way to meet up with people if you have tickets or plans to go to an event and don’t want to go solo. Most cities have CS communities that do anything from language exchange meetings to snowshoeing trips to potluck picnics. These options can be especially helpful if you don’t know anyone else using CS, as people won’t usually need to see references just to meet up and as they get to know you, they’ll want to help out by vouching for you.


friend and travel partner Ilana, with our host in Stuttgart

So, I hope this was some good advice to get you started. Check out the CS website for more tips and safety information, or look at my CS profile to see what one typically looks like. And keep your eyes peeled for more posts on safety, getting along with the hosts, and much more!

post by Jackie Clark