“We envision a world made better by travel, and travel made richer by connection.” This is the statement of the CouchSurfing company, fair and square. It was launched by Casey Fenton in 2000, following a trip to Iceland. Once there, he contacted students to ask for accommodation or simply to meet and learn more about their region. Positive responses abound and perception of the trip switches to a more human-centered perception. CouchSurfing is born!
The company aims to bring people closer all around the world, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate inter-cultural understanding. In other words, it fosters hospitality between travellers and meaningful experiences for everyone, both for the host and the visitor.
CouchSurfing : how does it work?
The platform is an accomodation service. Members offer their hospitality (and their couch) to travellers following a golden rule: the housing must be free. Nevertheless, a thank-you gift is always welcome. The hosting period is usually short -like two or three days- but can be larger. After that, the CouchSurfer can write a review on the website and recommend -or not- his host to the other members. Indeed, choosing a host is a crucial step, that’s why relevant comments and reviews are appreciated. For safety reasons, it is also strongly recommended to search for information on each member : read their full profile and favor those whose feedbacks are numerous and positive.
However the accommodation is not the only service promoted by CouchSurfing. Local meetings are also proposed to allow visitors to blend in with the local culture. As an example, if a user is not able to host travellers, he can opt for the status “Wants to meet up” indicating that he may be free to discuss and share knowledge for a few hours.
More than 200.000 events are also organized all around the world to promote cultural exchanges and satisfy the travellers. Among them, you will find the famous International Language Exchange, i.e parties in which people try to speak a foreign language with natives in order to improve their language skills. CouchSurfing offers a wide variety of other activities such as wine tasting, reading, video games, etc.
Tips and Tricks
Fill out your profile page: do it honestly and make sure it is up-to-date.
It is not a hotel room: Couchsurfing is about sharing your culture with someone else and creating a sense of community. Definitely not just having somewhere to sleep for free.
Bring a welcome gift: Since you don’t give money, it is nice to bring a small gift to thank them. Wine or beer can be nice for instance. You can also cook some local food… It’s up to you !
Do not send mass Email: Travellers and hosts just hate it when you simply send out an emotionless mass email. Try to send them a personalized message after reading each host’s profile.
CouchSurfing: a social network above all
By trying to foster interation, Couchsurfing is becoming a real social network. Each member is required to fill out his profile, revealing his exploits as a Couchsurfer , but alos his language skills, hobbies and areas of expertise. As a result, everyone can find a travelling buddy , a guide, or a good advisor. So if you just need recommendations, you can turn to the community through discussion groups or private messages, there will always be someone able to clarify the situation.
Share Your Life
With over 5 million users throughout 250 countries , CouchSurfing has revolutionized the practices of travelers. The whole movement is based on common values : openness to the world, mutual aid , promiscuity and confidence. It is the idea that individuals can change your experience by sharing their lives. CouchSurfing is definitely one of those inventions that makes a journey more colorful and cheaper.
For further information, please visit the official website