Written by: Sara
Couchsurfing.com is a website dedicated to connecting travelers from all over the world. I explain it to people who have never heard of it by saying "it's like Airbnb, but it's free." The truth is though, it's so much more. It really connects you with the person / people you're staying with.
I've met some nice people who have stayed at our place through Airbnb, but I can't really remember any of them, and I've never hung out with any of them. I can remember my first time with Couchsurfing hosts though. It was with 6 people from different countries that were living together in a flat in Amman, Jordan. They took my friend and I to a karaoke bar where we didn't sing, but then we went back to their place and sang karaoke songs from YouTube all night long. And they had a kitten they'd adopted that liked to chase highlighters.
I was hooked. When I returned from that trip and got my own place in Atlanta, I started hosting. I met the most interesting people who crashed on my couch and a spare air mattress in my living room. And when Colin and I moved in together, we had our own spare room and spare bathroom where we could host more comfortably. We got so many requests that I couldn't keep up with them!
The key to Couchsurfing is that no one wants you if you are just looking for a free place to stay. That is NOT what it's about. Couchsurfing is a community of travelers that want to help you out, but also want to meet you and learn from you and exchange stories. When you send a request to stay with someone, you have to personalize it. It is time consuming -- you need to read through the person's profile, see if you want to stay with them, and then tell them why you want to stay with them. You can't look at a map and pick the part of town you want to stay in. You have to dig through profiles to see where they say they're close to in order to determine if that's the part of town you want to stay in. And soooo many people never even respond to your request, so you have to send multiple for the same city and hope that someone responds.
For reference, our Couchsurfing profiles:
Sara & Colin
We are figuring out our travel as we go along, and we'd love to help you out with yours! Here are some tips, tricks, and how-to guides.