The Couchsurfing site is all about getting a couch when you need one and letting someone use yours when you have extra room. As strange as it may sound to open your home to a stranger from the Internet, you can get to know people from all over the world. In addition, many couchsurfers are gracious and thoughtful guests.
- Have a spot in mind to put an extra guest or two. It’s called “couchsurfing” because you do not need a dedicated spare bedroom to host. A couch will do. So will a floor mat or air mattress and a spot in the living room. Some couchsurfers even choose to travel with camping gear, and may willingly pitch a tent in the back yard.
- Visit the Couchsurfing site and click on the “Host a traveler” option in the top left corner of the menu.
- Click where it says “Can you host?”
- Select “Yes” from the various options. You can also choose that you just want to hang out, or that you’re currently traveling.
- Select dates and times you can host, and click “Search” to find people to host. If you don’t find anyone, make your search parameter wider, or choose a larger town.
- Create a profile. Upload a picture, and say a little about yourself. It will help everyone concerned if they know what to expect.
- Let people come to you. Depending on how popular your area is for visitors, you may get requests right away, or it may take many months.
- Alternatively, respond to the automated email you receive from the couchsurfing website, listing couchsurfers requesting hosts in your area.
- Respond to requests or replies, when you get them. Good communication can make everything much easier both on you and your couchsurfers.
- Help your couchsurfers coordinate how they are getting there, how long they will be staying, and when it is best to arrive so that you will be around to show them in.
- Give your location and directions when you are confident that you will be hosting a particular couchsurfer. (Many couchsurfers will make several requests for a particular area, in case not all choices are available.)
- Exchange phone numbers. A call or text can set things straight if someone’s lost or running late.
- Give any special instructions, for example if you need them to call from outside a gate, enter through a side door, or avoid letting out an animal.
- Put your visitor’s arrival in your calendar if you need an extra reminder. The Couchsurfing website will also send a reminder a day or two before the person arrives.
- Meet your couchsurfer. Be home (or at your agreed upon meeting point) when you say you will. Your couchsurfer is probably traveling, so try to make their trip easier, not harder. Try to be patient and keep in touch, however, if they don’t arrive right on time. Rides get stuck in traffic. Flights get delayed.
- Show your couchsurfer in. Point out where they will be sleeping, along with which bathroom they should use. Offer a shower, towel, and any pillows, sheets, or blankets you want them to use. Remember that your couchsurfer may be tired from traveling or from jet lag.
- Tell your couchsurfer about the area. It’s not required, but it’s a great way to get to know both your guest and your own area.
- You may be the best resource your couchsurfer has for understanding area transportation, recommending good nearby restaurants, or identifying the best (and worst) places to visit while they’re in town.
- Tell your couchsurfer about the culture in your area, especially if they are from far away.
- Go with your couchsurfer on tour visits, if you both are interested. Take the opportunity to play tour guide, or to see the sights in your own area if you haven’t lately.
- Make sure you fill out your profile so that people will know what your couch is like and what you expect from couchsurfers.
- Share stories with your couchsurfers. It may not be quite as extraordinary as traveling yourself, but it’s a great way to get to know each other.
- Share meals if you are willing and interested. If they’re visiting for sightseeing, consider going with them to see local landmarks. Part of the couchsurfing culture is that it’s about more than just having a place to spend the night.
- Be careful when inviting in strangers. There may always be some risk involved. Review prospective couchsurfers’ profiles and reviews on the website, ask questions if you are concerned, and take a look at the safety tips on the Couchsurfing website.