Be a Great Couchsurfer
Whether you’re traveling the world, hosting travelers, or making friends locally, being a conscientious and generous Couchsurfer will enrich the connections you make with the people you meet.
Be it stories, songs, food or your favorite coffee shop, Couchsurfing is about sharing and connection. Be open to giving, receiving, and discovering the unexpected.
Help make the world smaller and friendlier. The diversity of people across the globe is a beautiful thing, so contribute by respecting and appreciating those differences, be they cultural or otherwise.
Spend time with your host or surfer. Make new friends and help each other discover new things about the world. If you’re new to Couchsurfing, tap into your local community first. It helps to know people near you, so meet other Couchsurfers in your area by joining groups and events.
Hosts, tidy up your space before Couchsurfers arrive. Surfers, leave it better than you found it. Keep your things in order and always clean up after yourself.
Finding a place to stay is just part of the Couchsurfing experience. More importantly, it’s about human connection. When you write a couchrequest, let hosts know why you think you’d enjoy each other’s company and what you’d like to contribute to your stay. When you’re there, get to know your host and their way of life. See what you learn.
If your plans change, let your host or surfer know.
Trust your instincts
When looking for other Couchsurfers, always carefully review their profiles and especially the references. Communicate through Couchsurfing to get a better sense of who they are.
Leave a reference
Be sure to leave references for people after hosting or surfing! References help other members make informed decisions. Leave truthful references that describe your experience with another member accurately.
Tips for Travelers
During your first experience Couchsurfing, you’ll discover an entirely new way of engaging with the world. To be a good guest, treat your host and their home with kindness and respect. To be a great guest, read these tips.
Send a great couchrequest
Couchrequests shouldn’t be copy-and-paste “can I sleep on your couch?” requests. Send thoughtful, personalized messages that use your potential host’s name and make it clear you’ve read their profile.
Follow up with everyone who responds to your couchrequests. When someone accepts your request, work out exactly how and when you’ll meet. If more than one host accepts, send notes to the others to let them know so they don’t end up waiting.
Inform yourself about local customs
Whether it’s being sensitive to staying with a host of a different gender or learning the proper table etiquette, doing a bit of research before Couchsurfing can reduce the risk of miscommunication.
Have a back up plan
Don’t forget your guidebook! If something comes up last minute or your host’s plans change, be ready to find a hostel.
Bring groceries or enough cash to eat out. Hosts are not expected to feed you. We also think it’s nice to cook or treat your host to a meal as a way to say thank you.
Follow your host’s lead
Observe how your host behaves and respond similarly. If they are neat, keep yourself and your belongings tidy. If they are sleeping and you’re awake, don’t disturb them.
Leave things in better condition than you found them
If your host lends you something, treat it well. Don’t leave the couch in disarray, hang up your towel, etc. Basically, be a respectful guest.
Bring a gift or think about what you might want to offer your host. Some surfers sing a song or bring something from their home country. Others get to know their host first, then pick something up they feel would suit them. Contributing can mean anything from offering good conversation, fresh lemons, a home-cooked meal, or a quick lesson in a new skill.
Be a host
To be a truly great guest, it helps to experience Couchsurfing from the other side. If you’re able to host, why not test the waters and welcome a traveler into your home?
Leave a reference
Leave your host a reference and describe your experience with them truthfully! References help other members make informed decisions.
Tips for Hosts
You don’t need a couch to host a Couchsurfer. Hosts have let travelers sleep on futons, in lavish guest houses, or on the floor of their cave. What makes a great host is a spirit of generosity and passion to share and learn about one another.
Take time to learn about your guest’s cultures, traditions, languages, and customs. Ask questions! Learn how to cook an old family recipe or a few words in their native language.
Make a city guide
Even if you don’t have time to show your Couchsurfers around, you can still provide a local perspective! Make a list of your favorite local spots, events, or local attractions. Have fun by making a binder with old city maps, transportation cards, or a “lost and found” of items previous Couchsurfers left behind.
Set your boundaries
Write detailed guidelines in the Couch Information section of your profile so surfers know if you’ll be a good fit before sending you a couchrequest. Let Couchsurfers know what’s available to them, being clear about whether they can use your computer, phone, washing machine, or any other possessions.
Keep your settings updated
If you can’t host anyone right now, make sure your profile says this, as it will save everyone time when you’re not available.
It’s never too late to say no
If a Couchsurfer makes you uncomfortable, whether through their contact prior to their visit, once they arrive or halfway through their stay, you can cancel the arrangements or ask them to leave. Surfing is a privilege, not a right.
Be a surfer
If you’re interested in hosting but have never Couchsurfed before, try using the system yourself!
Leave a reference
Leave your guest a reference and describe your experience with them truthfully! References help other members make informed decisions.
The best Couchsurfing profile is one that shows members exactly who you are. So if you’re a hula-hooping Vegan polyglot, show off your hula photos and mention your favorite vegan burger recipe. If you’re a quiet and thoughtful hiking philosopher, tell members about your favorite books and local walks!
Fill out your profile completely
A few sentences saying that you’re looking for a place to stay isn’t enough. Potential hosts or guests need to feel connected to you, so everything from the music you love to the places you’ve traveled will help other members make an educated decision about whether to host or surf with you.
Don’t be afraid to discuss “controversial” topics
If you’re hosting and live in a rough neighborhood, you need to inform other Couchsurfers beforehand. If you’re a surfer who doesn’t eat meat and doesn’t want to stay with non-vegetarians, say that. The best Couchsurfing experiences start with an open and honest dialogue.
The photos you choose represent who you are as a member of the Couchsurfing community. Upload photos that show off your hobbies or favorite memories and do try to choose wisely. If the first impression you give is a wild shot of you drunk and shirtless, expect to only be hosted by those who share your values.
List your languages
Even if your French is rusty, you can always list yourself as a ‘Beginner.’ Don’t shortchange yourself! If you’re the only person in your town with a few words of Mandarin, you could be a great resource and the perfect choice for a Mandarin-speaking Couchsurfer traveling through your area.
If you need inspiration, browse experienced members’ profiles. Ambassador profiles should turn up some good examples!
Create an “active” profile
Many long-time Couchsurfers have spent years adding friends, updating their travel map and collecting references, making their profiles appealing. Join a few groups. The time you invest in your Couchsurfing profile pays off in the long run.
Read others’ profiles carefully
Just as you should take time and care building your own profile, so should others with whom you choose to interact. Empty profiles, a lack of photos and references usually implies a lack of interest in the community. Stick to communicating with members who put into Couchsurfing what they hope to get out.
If you’re not traveling or don’t have the space to host, that doesn’t mean you can’t be involved in the Couchsurfing community! Cities all over the world have developed their own personalities, communities and cultures. From Thai Food Thursdays to Monthly Salsa Dancing, events can be whatever you want them to be.
If you’re new, attend a weekly event
Most major cities have recurring events, which usually take place in a bar or cafe. This is a great way to meet locals in your area or connect with travelers passing through.
Can you make the perfect plate of pasta? Can you dance the tango? Offer up your skills, sharing your expertise with the community.
Find a community space
Most cities have a variety of options for community events, whether it’s a large cafe, community center or private park. For years, Couchsurfers have been creating relationships with business owners in their cities, which can create a sense of community and might even help you score a great deal.
Timing is everything
Unless it’s a regular weekly event, we usually recommend planning an event 1-2 weeks ahead of time. Don’t be afraid of planning something last-minute! Many event organizers will send out an invitation to an event when they think of the idea. Then, depending how far away it is, they’ll send out another invitation closer to the event date.
Invite your non-Couchsurfing friends
Just because you’re organizing a Couchsurfing event doesn’t mean non-Couchsurfers can’t go! We like to think, “the more the merrier.” Plus, what better way to get your friends involved in Couchsurfing than by introducing them to the local community?
Your Couchsurfing experiences don’t have to end once you have children! Both surfing and hosting with kids is a great way to learn about the world together.
Create a family profile
Make Couchsurfing a family project by letting your kids help fill out sections of your profile and having conversations about what Couchsurfing means to you. Add photos of all family members and show off your family’s personality with stories and funny details.
Use Couchsurfing as a teaching tool
Teach your kids about your Couchsurfer’s home country: show them where it is on a map and teach them a word or two in a new language.
When surfing, communicate clearly about your family’s needs
Does your host need to do any childproofing? Will you need to have your children in bed at a specific time? Don’t be shy to ask about potential cultural conflicts of opinion. For example, breastfeeding is treated differently from country to country and that may affect your experience.
Help your children get acquainted
Give them something specific to do on arrival like presenting your host with a drawing, gift, or introducing themselves in the host’s native language.
Always defer to the parents
If you’re hosting or surfing with a family, remember a few things:
- Never take the kids to another location without the parents.
- Talk with the parents if the children act up. If a child is doing something that you consider inappropriate, such as going through your things, let the parents know.
- Check with the parents before offering gifts. Some families may prefer not to receive gifts and others might disagree with certain types of toys or candy.
- Ask about food restrictions. Find out in advance which foods should be kept out of reach (and maybe out of sight - no one likes a cookie temper tantrum!). If you’re surfing, ask before bringing food into the house.
Please note, only adults can use your Couchsurfing account. No one under 18 may use the website, or Couchsurf without a parent.
Couchsurfing isn’t just for hosts in Paris or Tokyo. Travelers benefit from experiencing rural areas and new ways of life that are often overlooked. Rural communities also benefit, allowing for cultural exchange they might otherwise miss. Rural Couchsurfing takes a little more effort, so keep these tips in mind.
Get Couchsurfers involved in your day-to-day activities
Chances are, your guest picked your couch because they’re interested in and curious about your lifestyle. Teach and share whatever you can with them.
Provide an alternate form of contact
After accepting a couchrequest, exchange phone numbers, especially if your Internet is unreliable or nonexistent. Encourage your Couchsurfer to call you to confirm their date and time of arrival.
Set up a solid meeting place
If your house is hard to access, consider arranging to pick up your Couchsurfer at a location that is easier to find. Confirm meeting details the previous day.