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Old Jun 19, 08, 2:13 am   #1
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Question Couchsurfing - have you used it?

Hi budget travelers.

With the number of people on this board I'd be interested to see how many have used Couchsurfing.

What is it? From the website "CouchSurfing is a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.". I consider it to be an extension or alternative to backpacking. Instead of staying in a hostel you stay on someone's couch or spare room.

It's certainly not for everyone! The advantage is that you get a more local perspective on where you are - the people, the housing, the quality of life. The disadvantage is that you might feel less secure, and that you are probably more careful to keep everyone/everything happy.

I've hosted someone from Germany once and enjoyed helping him out during his stay. And I might try and use it when in America later this year.

I'd be curious to see how FlyerTalkers, especially Americans, have found it. Did you find couches easily? Do you have any tips on the best way to find couches, handle stays, etc.? What have been your experiences?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 19, 08, 8:30 am   #2
  
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Wow! That's crazy! And amazing! I can't believe I've never heard of it. Now I'm curious to know if anyone else besides OP has personal experience with this, on either side.

In some parts of the world without hostels, homestays are very common. When I traveled along the Croatian coast with a friend, we did all homestays, but those are of course a commercial transaction. It's really cool!
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Old Jun 19, 08, 8:48 am   #3
  
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Yup, I'm on it. Haven't had the most success using it...but I've met some interesting people through it. Traveled in northeast india with people I've met on couchsurfing. I've also used hospitalityclub.com..which seems more prevalent in scandinavia. I had a great time with the people I stayed with in Finland. I'm still just getting started though. It's a great way to hang out with local people and make new friends. Definitely recommend it!!
I don't have a couch right now to host..since I'm mainly traveling at the moment. Good travels!
Hari.
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Old Jun 19, 08, 5:14 pm   #4
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haricharan, one of my biggest gripes with it is that if someone does fairly generic searches for a couch, I'm like #180 on the list due to being a longer member on there. Only if people do more restrictive searches will I come up. With this in mind I always do a restrictive search when looking for a couch.

fatfrog, homestay is a great way of describing it. Not heard that term in ages!

Certainly couchsurfing isn't for everyone, but I think it makes a much more attractive option than hosteling for some. I, for one, am over snorers!!!
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Old Jun 20, 08, 6:47 am   #5
  
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used it once for a stay in NYC when hotel rates were $400+ for a one night stay and most hostels sold out due to the marathon. ended up with a very fun night in the NYC night life and saw places you could probably only see with a local.

obviously the first time you are a bit nervous and negative experiences are possible. however I'd do it again.
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Old Jun 20, 08, 7:41 am   #6
  
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Very interesting! I might have to try it sometime. Anybody else have any experiences with it?


Halothane
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Old Jun 20, 08, 9:16 am   #7
  
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I haven't used it since they started doing the credit checks (i haven't had the need for a couch) but will when the time comes... before that, i did once or twice and no problems. Great system and nice people overall.
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Old Jun 20, 08, 2:01 pm   #8
  
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We are Americans and use this extensively. We have hosted about 70 + people and been hosted by about 20 residents of Europe. It is an incredible project. I can not recommend it highly enough. I am unable to give many details right now but feel free to email me regarding CS. Our profile name on couchsurfing is kimberly and tom. koquan@yahoo. It has changed how we travel and how we live our lives back home.
Quick answer to OP ?'s
1) Yes couches are usually easy to find. Usually has more to do with how picky you are. We have never had to stay in a hotel or hostel in Europe because we could not find a host.
2) Fill ot your profile completely. When requesting a couch take the time to read your potential hosts profile thoroughly. In your request note that you have done this. Do not send a generic cut and paste email request to 40 people. Many people really resent that and state that these requests will not be answered.
3) Stays are handled as you wish. We provide a key and as much info and assitance with places to see things to do public transport etc. use of our kitchen/internet. We invite people to use our place as if it were their home. How you host is simply up to you.

Last edited by kim-tom; Jun 20, 08 at 2:10 pm
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Old Jun 20, 08, 4:37 pm   #9
  
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Servas

I've never used 'couchsurfing' but I did participate in a homestay in Sydney about 10 yrs ago. It was an organization called Servas - I don't know if they even exist anymore.
I had some safety concerns as I was a single female traveller but no problems.
Had a lovely stay and as other posters have commented, had some experiences I wouldn't have had otherwise - went to a picnic w my hostess, cool bars, even got set up on a date w one of her friends.
It's not for everyone and it's not for every situation. It takes energy to be a host or a guest and sometimes you just want to be on your own.
Overall, .
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Old Jun 21, 08, 7:39 pm   #10
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hi kim and tom.

Thanks for the tips! I checked out your couchsurfing profile- very nice. Good to see you had some visitors from Melbourne.

I'm planning to spend 3 months looking around the US so hope to meet some find couchsurfers along the way. Or buy a campervan/RV and use driveways or something! lol.
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Old Jun 22, 08, 9:25 am   #11
  
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Enigma,
Thanks for bringing this up. I am about to book a ticket to London and plan to take a train down to France and Spain while I am in Europe. I am actually considering signing up and trying my luck. Thanks again!

Halothane
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Old Jun 22, 08, 1:42 pm   #12
  
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Hi Enigma ,
We have had many wonderful people from Australia stay with us. We were hosted by an Australian above the Arctic circle in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden(famous for The Ice Hotel) great time. Send us a couch request if you think you will be in Austin. My humble opinion is that Austin is not very representative of Texas but that is what makes it such a great place to spend a few days.
Cheers,
Kimberly and Tom
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Old Mar 16, 09, 12:54 am   #13
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Anyone else try it? It looks cool.
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Old Mar 16, 09, 2:25 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigma View Post
Hi budget travelers.

With the number of people on this board I'd be interested to see how many have used Couchsurfing.

What is it? From the website "CouchSurfing is a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.". I consider it to be an extension or alternative to backpacking. Instead of staying in a hostel you stay on someone's couch or spare room.

It's certainly not for everyone! The advantage is that you get a more local perspective on where you are - the people, the housing, the quality of life. The disadvantage is that you might feel less secure, and that you are probably more careful to keep everyone/everything happy.

I've hosted someone from Germany once and enjoyed helping him out during his stay. And I might try and use it when in America later this year.

I'd be curious to see how FlyerTalkers, especially Americans, have found it. Did you find couches easily? Do you have any tips on the best way to find couches, handle stays, etc.? What have been your experiences?

Thanks!
I have not used couchsurfing, but I have met a number of couchsurfers in person on a trip to Bulgaria. I had been in touch with some people from a similiar organisation Hospitality Club. When I met my HC friends, they told me about Couchsurfers who were meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria while I was there. Some HC members are Couchsurfers also. A great bunch of people. Some of them will also host guests depending on their situation. In any case they will meet you and show you around. It's a greatway to make friends around the world, even if you don't find a couch. There were about 30 people at the meeting in Sofia, ocal, as well as visitors like myself, and expats living in Sofia.
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Old Mar 16, 09, 2:35 pm   #15
  
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Check out travelvice.com - Craig has been surfing non-stop for months in eastern Europe, through Turkey and now into Syria.
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