Couchsurfing is a brilliant idea that has taken the world by storm; to the extent that they now have over 12 million members. There was a time when your flight was the most costly part of your holiday. Now though, with fierce competition between budget airlines, flights to Spain can be picked up dirt cheap. This has enabled more and more people to enjoy a foreign holiday each year. However, you will still need a fair amount of your budget for your accommodation. How about planning a holiday to Torrevieja and not spending a penny on accommodation? This is where the concept of Couchsurfing has helped shoestring travellers enjoy a budget holiday.
How Couchsurfing Started
The project began in 2004 when a group of like-minded travellers came up with the idea of people around the world sharing their homes. Of course, this concept would only work if all members were willing to reciprocate. Well, with such a great idea, it’s needless to say members started pouring in, both looking for and offering a place for fellow couchsurfers to stay. Now, with over 12 million members in about 200,000 towns and cities, it’s possible to practically travel the world on a shoestring budget. But remember when possible, to open your doors too.
How Couchsurfing Works
To start surfing is really easy. Go onto the website and sign up. Then you need to create a personal profile, and this is the most important part. Try to be as forthcoming and detailed as possible in your profile. Add photos or even a short intro video clip. This will give fellow couchsurfers an idea of your personality, age, religious beliefs, likes and dislikes. Let’s face it, if you’re an 18 year old member you may not feel comfortable with an elderly person sharing your home. The same applies to those with a strong religious faith accommodating an atheist.
Once you have created your profile then take some time to surf other profiles and connect with people in countries you may be interested in travelling to. The great thing about couchsurfing is it’s not just about sharing accommodation. Members organise regular events worldwide and post upcoming stuff that’s happening in their town or city such as festivals or concerts.
Once you’re more familiar with how couchsurfing works then you can set your status to what suits you best. This could be, ‘Yes’ I have a room, bed or even a couch that fellow members can sleep on. If you are unable to host but still wish to meet fellow travellers, you can set your status to ‘Not right now’ but i’m available to hang out and show you around my town or city.
The creators of couchsurfing have done their utmost to make sure travellers stay safe. They have a policy page as well as a reference system where members can share their experiences of the people they’ve met, hosted or stayed with. Not everyone is going to be compatible and what you’re expecting is not always going to be what you’re offered. Therefore it’s vital to always have a back up plan and enough money for alternate accommodation should things not work out. Lastly, always be respectful, offer to help out and maybe even leave your host a gift.