Couch surfing

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Essah
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Couch surfing

Postby Essah » Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:58 am UTC

Discovered this (AWESOME) Concept and webpage recently and very psyched about it and the options it gives. Hoping to give it a try this summer, Most likely northern Germany, Benelux, or somewhere in Scandinavia.

http://www.couchsurfing.org

Anyone have experience with Couch Surfing
tips, tricks or maybe experiences you wanna share?

What do you guys think of travelling alone vs with a friend. Not sure I'll be able to find someone I know that wants to go with me.
Last edited by Essah on Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:35 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Jave D
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jave D » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:31 am UTC

My only hope of avoiding living in the streets should my financial situation take a turn for the worse.

That's all I know about couch surfing. But it sounds like you're referring to some sort of hip new sport? Kind of like dumpster diving, which could also be either.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Essah » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:34 am UTC

Jave D wrote:My only hope of avoiding living in the streets should my financial situation take a turn for the worse.

That's all I know about couch surfing. But it sounds like you're referring to some sort of hip new sport? Kind of like dumpster diving, which could also be either.


It's actually an organized page that facilitate contact between surfers and hosts alike

http://www.couchsurfing.org

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby addams » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:58 am UTC

Yes. Couch Surfing can be a ton of fun.

The website is an organized way to do this and it can work beautifully.

Of course, there are problems with any system.
The internet and real life crash into one another over and over, again.
That is both fun and strange.

Traveling with a buddy is a good idea.
Couch Surfing can be a way to meet people in your own area.

If you happen to be one of Homeland's person of interest, then you may start having less fun people stop by.
Go figure. It seems Homeland has a computer.

Bore them to death. Show them your star charts and a globe.
If they are 'real' you will have a good time.
If not, then the star charts will trigger an anger or fear responds. (shrug.)

In Europe it should be fine as red wine in France.
I hope you have a wonderful time.

Couch surfing is like visiting with family you are meeting for the first time.
The Couch Surfing website is like contacting your Aunt or Sister's friend.

It will be what the Surfers make of it.
Most people are sweet and will be good to you.

Always have a Plan B.
Expect the Unexpected is what I was told about travel.
That is stupid advice.

Couch Surfing at its best allows a traveler to see a place from the inside.
Where do the locals like to go?

Things even the Locals don't know about can be discovered that way.
And; It gives The Locals an opportunity to see local stuff in fresh ways by hearing what you think.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Apparently Anonymous » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:10 pm UTC

Oh hey, that's something I do.

Or, strictly speaking I've only surfed with three people and hosted one, if one doesn't count the times I went to visit friends I met through couchsurfing, but if I get to do more travelling in the future that'll be my first choice for accomodation. The idea isn't really about just having a free place to sleep, but rather that you get in touch with locals and through them get to see the place you're visiting a bit "from the inside" instead of just scratching the surface as a tourist.

If one doesn't feel like hosting/surfing it's also pretty common to find people to show you around in a new city, or go sightseeing together, or various other activities. Most bigger cities also have regular couchsurfing events (where I am there's a weekly meeting, a bigger monthly meeting and various language practice meetings in addition to that), personally I like those a lot and used to go every week when I first got here - it's a nice way to get in touch with people when you're new somewhere.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby idobox » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:20 pm UTC

I've hosted more than 200 people, surfed in a dozen occasions, and never had any problem.

The best thing is not so much the money, but the fact that you meet local. When you've travelled a bit, you get bored to death by churches and palaces, because they all look the same. But when you travel with couchsurfing, you end up in a face in a tiny back alley, at strangers' birthday parties, etc... You discover the real life of other people
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jofur » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:11 pm UTC

I've always wanted to surf and host!

The hosting is difficult as I live in an area nobody wants to visit.
Everybody is doing it and nobody knows why.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Essah » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:18 pm UTC

Jofur wrote:I've always wanted to surf and host!

The hosting is difficult as I live in an area nobody wants to visit.


Try me!

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Diemo » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:20 pm UTC

I hosted quite a lot, but didn't surf. Its a good thing to do. I plan on hosting again when I get a place that can take people in.
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Jofur
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jofur » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:21 pm UTC

Essah wrote:
Jofur wrote:I've always wanted to surf and host!

The hosting is difficult as I live in an area nobody wants to visit.


Try me!


Well I'm in Rochester Hills, MI now (Near detroit) and I'll be in Flint in a few weeks. ha


Also: I've got 5-7 days off soon and about $200 bucks after getting verified on Couchsurfing.
I have a decent car and am open to new things.

Where should I go look for a host? :D
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Essah » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:01 pm UTC

Jofur wrote:
Essah wrote:
Jofur wrote:I've always wanted to surf and host!

The hosting is difficult as I live in an area nobody wants to visit.


Try me!


Well I'm in Rochester Hills, MI now (Near detroit) and I'll be in Flint in a few weeks. ha


Also: I've got 5-7 days off soon and about $200 bucks after getting verified on Couchsurfing.
I have a decent car and am open to new things.

Where should I go look for a host? :D


hmm, I honestly have no idea whats thats like, so I don't know if thats somewhere I wanna go.

I can Recommend San Francisco.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:09 pm UTC

It's a great program, but I think it is EXTREMELY home dependent. A friend of mine couch surfed around Louisiana and said he had a few utterly awful experiences, but mostly that it was great.

A lot of places have very affordable hostels. My perception of couch surfing is that you're supposed to sort of give back, if by buying a meal or cleaning the house a bit or a six pack or whatever, and frankly, I'd rather check into a hostel for that much money be certain that I have my own clean, lockable space. But, for traveling on an uber-budget, yeah, great getup.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Essah » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:17 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:It's a great program, but I think it is EXTREMELY home dependent. A friend of mine couch surfed around Louisiana and said he had a few utterly awful experiences, but mostly that it was great.

A lot of places have very affordable hostels. My perception of couch surfing is that you're supposed to sort of give back, if by buying a meal or cleaning the house a bit or a six pack or whatever, and frankly, I'd rather check into a hostel for that much money be certain that I have my own clean, lockable space. But, for traveling on an uber-budget, yeah, great getup.


How about the whole deal about meeting locals, Getting in under the skin of a place rather than just the touristy surface and of course getting to know new people and possibly making Friends
It's those things as much as the actual price saving that appeals to me and I feel like it's those things that make up the Couch Surfing concept.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:30 pm UTC

Yup. Those are really great aspects of it.

There are a lot of ways to get plugged in with locals though; Couch Surfing to me, is a program designed for people who are traveling on the cheaper than cheap. I've simply never needed to travel that cheaply.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jofur » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:33 pm UTC

Essah wrote:hmm, I honestly have no idea whats thats like, so I don't know if thats somewhere I wanna go.

I can Recommend San Francisco.


You probably don't want to come this way. (Like I said, hosting opportunities are probably seldom if you don't live in a desirable location)

I'd love to see San Francisco, but I couldn't afford it. Even with couch surfing. It would generally have to stay in the northeast US or Ontario/Quebec CA.

Izawwlgood wrote:Yup. Those are really great aspects of it.

There are a lot of ways to get plugged in with locals though; Couch Surfing to me, is a program designed for people who are traveling on the cheaper than cheap. I've simply never needed to travel that cheaply.


I'm a college student... so yeah, I would. :P
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:54 pm UTC

Jofur wrote:I'm a college student... so yeah, I would. :P

Honestly, Couch Surfing is only sensible as a way to get plugged into locals and way to REALLY save money. If you can afford college, you have more than sufficient funds to not have to rely on Couch Surfing. My friend did it because he was homeless and hopping freight across the country. And another friend did it because he wanted to work on the language of the place he was living at.

I'm not trying to cast a negative light on it; it's a pretty rad program, but for example, when I traveled through NZ, my girlfriend and I stayed primarily in hostels, and most of them were about 20-30 a night for a double bed. If you couch surf, it's more or less expected that you will give back a bit, and if you're THAT strapped for cash, it's less 'traveling' and more 'being a step above homeless in another country'.

My personal position on traveling is it's expensive, and can certainly be done on the cheap, but if you can't rub together enough money to do anything more than basically rely on the kindness of locals, you should consider traveling somewhere that's cheaper to get to, so you have some funds to enjoy the destination.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jofur » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:59 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Jofur wrote:I'm a college student... so yeah, I would. :P

Honestly, Couch Surfing is only sensible as a way to get plugged into locals and way to REALLY save money. If you can afford college, you have more than sufficient funds to not have to rely on Couch Surfing. My friend did it because he was homeless and hopping freight across the country. And another friend did it because he wanted to work on the language of the place he was living at.

I'm not trying to cast a negative light on it; it's a pretty rad program, but for example, when I traveled through NZ, my girlfriend and I stayed primarily in hostels, and most of them were about 20-30 a night for a double bed. If you couch surf, it's more or less expected that you will give back a bit, and if you're THAT strapped for cash, it's less 'traveling' and more 'being a step above homeless in another country'.

My personal position on traveling is it's expensive, and can certainly be done on the cheap, but if you can't rub together enough money to do anything more than basically rely on the kindness of locals, you should consider traveling somewhere that's cheaper to get to, so you have some funds to enjoy the destination.


You're assuming I can afford college :P
I see what you're saying, though. Depending on the situation, I think I would enjoy it, just because I find people fascinating. I've never seen a hostel in the US, do they do that anywhere here? I've heard a lot about them and it sounds like a good idea.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:06 pm UTC

... you're either a college student someone - yourself, a family member, a kind stranger, whatever - can afford paying for it, or you cannot afford it and are not a college student but an aspiring college student.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby SurgicalSteel » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:25 am UTC

Or you're a college student who can only afford college, and thus can't afford silly luxuries like travel.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jorpho » Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:34 am UTC

Essah wrote:Discovered this (AWESOME) Concept and webpage recently and very psyched about it and the options it gives.
Of course you realize it has been around for a long while.

I have had some very bad experiences with couchsurfing. When you couchsurf, you are putting yourself at the mercy of a complete stranger in a location completely unfamiliar to you. There's this one relatively little town in Ontario that has this film festival every year, y'see, and on one occasion, lacking any other options, I opted for couchsurfing. I found a willing host relatively quickly, except when I arrived, there was no one there. I wandered off to find a pay phone; he told me he was delayed at work, but also that the door was open and I should go right in.

...It wasn't foul, in the sense that there weren't cockroaches scaling the wall or mountains of partially-eaten food, but it was the next step up. A disaster area. I was afraid to touch anything. I waited as long as I could, but of course he never showed. Fortunately another festival attendee was able to put me up. I probably should have left a scathing review, but I'm too darn nice and didn't say anything.

Last year I decided to try again, but despite sending out around nine requests I barely heard back from anyone. I resorted to AirBNB in the end, which is like couchsurfing except that you're expected to pay. I eventually found someone willing to let me use his sofa for a rather unreasonable price.

I arrived and... it was the sofa in the middle of his living room. His glorious, east-facing, glass-walled living room with no curtains of any kind.:evil: At least it was clean.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Apparently Anonymous » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:45 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Jofur wrote:I'm a college student... so yeah, I would. :P

Honestly, Couch Surfing is only sensible as a way to get plugged into locals and way to REALLY save money. If you can afford college, you have more than sufficient funds to not have to rely on Couch Surfing. My friend did it because he was homeless and hopping freight across the country. And another friend did it because he wanted to work on the language of the place he was living at.

I'm not trying to cast a negative light on it; it's a pretty rad program, but for example, when I traveled through NZ, my girlfriend and I stayed primarily in hostels, and most of them were about 20-30 a night for a double bed. If you couch surf, it's more or less expected that you will give back a bit, and if you're THAT strapped for cash, it's less 'traveling' and more 'being a step above homeless in another country'.

My personal position on traveling is it's expensive, and can certainly be done on the cheap, but if you can't rub together enough money to do anything more than basically rely on the kindness of locals, you should consider traveling somewhere that's cheaper to get to, so you have some funds to enjoy the destination.


I can affort sleeping in a hostel, could even go for a hotel I suppose, but I'd still much prefer couchsurfing. I've had some really good experiences with it, and to me it opens up a whole different kind of travelling that includes entirely different experiences (like talking all night, learning something from your host and sharing your own skills/knowledge, cooking together, seeing what everyday life is like in the city you're visiting, going to a private party, making friends you want to come back and visit). It's really important that you watch who you surf with though, you want to pick somebody you think you can connect with and have something (at least mindset-wise) in common with. Also, for safety reasons, I'd pick somebody with a decent amount of references and no bad ones.

About the "giving back" part, to me that's not really about material stuff, but rather just sharing of who you are as a person (and not locking yourself up in your room and barely exchanging two words with your host - those are the worst kind of surfers that most of my mass-hosting friends have) and giving a helping hand with the dishes or with cooking, for instance. I tend to bring some chocolate or something from my hometown just for the sake of it, but it's such a minor thing. It's not like the host needs to be "paid back", to me hosting's supposed to be an enrichment rather than a burden. I know of people who aren't themselves able to travel, so instead they bring the world to them in form of people. Of course, though, this presupposes good choices of hosts and surfers, good communication between them and some flexibility.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:18 pm UTC

Yeah, and I see that as being an advantage to Couch Surfing. But, again, honestly, you can meet locals by doing things like researching ahead of time where locals go, and going there. You want to make some new friends in a foreign place? Go to a bar.

The communication required to make Couch Surfing work, to me, seems like something that could be done in any circumstance to ensure a good experience with locals. I'm sure there's a way to get in contact with a local ahead of time and coordinate a meal or a night out; you don't have to rely on the kindness of crashing on a strangers couch.

I'm pretty resistent to the idea of relying on a strangers kindness in a foreign city. I'm just not that trusting of people. If you organize a meal with a resident, and the person turns into a weirdo, you just leave and go back to your hostel/hotel/friends place. If you're staying with them, then you're in trouble. Or sleeping with roaches.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Essah » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:51 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Yeah, and I see that as being an advantage to Couch Surfing. But, again, honestly, you can meet locals by doing things like researching ahead of time where locals go, and going there. You want to make some new friends in a foreign place? Go to a bar.

The communication required to make Couch Surfing work, to me, seems like something that could be done in any circumstance to ensure a good experience with locals. I'm sure there's a way to get in contact with a local ahead of time and coordinate a meal or a night out; you don't have to rely on the kindness of crashing on a strangers couch.

I'm pretty resistent to the idea of relying on a strangers kindness in a foreign city. I'm just not that trusting of people. If you organize a meal with a resident, and the person turns into a weirdo, you just leave and go back to your hostel/hotel/friends place. If you're staying with them, then you're in trouble. Or sleeping with roaches.


sounds like you've had some bad experience in the past

I'm just not that trusting of people

That's a shame really.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:46 pm UTC

Not even; but as posted, and as I stated, I've heard of enough bad experiences.

Frankly, I don't think it's 'unfortunate' that I don't trust people enough to rely on them for a place to stay when traveling in a foreign country; I think it's prudent. One of the things I've learned in my fairly extensive road trip experience and mildly extensive travel outside the country is planning ahead and having contingencies is wise. To me, Couch Surfing is like car camping, and not knowing where the next gas station is, having a tent, or a map. You can certainly do it that way, and certainly have some interesting experiences, I'd just rather, as stated, not rely on the kindness of strangers to keep a roof over my head, because I have the faculties and wherewithal to take care of that particular luxury myself.

In NZ, I met plenty of locals and travelers alike; I'm glad the bulk of our interaction wasn't due to them being nice enough to house me.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby idobox » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:49 pm UTC

Couchsurfing vs hostel is a bit like eating at your mum's vs in a restaurant.

It is a bad idea to rely people you don't know, whether in your home town or anywhere else, and it's always a goo thing to have a plan B. If your host is not what you expected, you can always get out and go to a hostel.
I don't host people out of kindness, I host people because I actually have a great time doing it. Staying with someone and sharing their day-to-day life is a completely different experience from talking to strangers in a bar. And couchsurfing is also used a lot by people who don't host but just meet people

To sum up, if you like back-packing, hitch-hiking, changing your plans in the middle of your trip because you made new friends, and unexpected home parties with people who don't speak your tongue, you will enjoy couchsurfing.
If you care a lot about how comfy your bed will be, how cool and silent your room will be, and know what to expect, don't ever try couchsurfing, it's not for you.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:57 pm UTC

My friends experience with couch surfing was that he was given keys to the house, and only really saw them at dinner time, and 'dinner time' was 50/50 them cooking vs them taking him out to local restaurants. They of course suggested local places for him to check out.

Again though, if you want to experience locals and have a home cooked meal at someones home, there are ways to do so that don't rely on them to also house you.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:23 pm UTC

idobox wrote:To sum up, if you like back-packing, hitch-hiking, changing your plans in the middle of your trip because you made new friends, and unexpected home parties with people who don't speak your tongue, you will enjoy couchsurfing.
If you care a lot about how comfy your bed will be, how cool and silent your room will be, and know what to expect, don't ever try couchsurfing, it's not for you.

And I'm going to counter with "if you like back-packing, hitch-hiking, changing your plans in the middle of your trip because you made new friends, and unexpected home parties with people who don't speak your tongue and want to make sure you aren't going to be completely fucked because someone bailed out on you and now you're on a street in a place where hardly anyone to no one speaks your language and you aren't entirely certain where a hotel even is, much less how to get there, then couch surfing may not be your ideal way to travel because holy shit are people flaky"

You can do all that shit while also having a room in a hotel or other reliable means of making sure that at the end of the night, you've got a place to put your stuff where it (presumably) won't be taken and you (presumably) won't be attacked in your sleep.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Enuja » Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:12 am UTC

I would like to host and surf, but I have not yet done either. I also haven't traveled at all lately, because I don't have the money. My has-only-slighlty-more money ex husband spent two summers in Europe, because he lived on the trains and by illegally stealth camping. I had no interest in joining him for that type of travel. So, from my perspective, couch surfing is the expensive, high-class way to do things, compared to the alternative. As a couch surfer, you may be pretend-homeless, but you're not (usually) actually homeless, which my ex was.

Izawwlgood and SecondTalon, I think you two have excessively bourgeoisie sensibilities. :-) I, mean, it's fine for you two to have those sensibilities, but it seems like both you think that paying for hostels is accessible to everyone, and everyone would be bothered by sleeping in a pig stye apartment. Some people chose to keep their apartments at home like that and don't mind it, and other people consider access to a shower and shelter to be luxury while traveling.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jorpho » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:32 am UTC

idobox wrote:It is a bad idea to rely people you don't know, whether in your home town or anywhere else, and it's always a goo thing to have a plan B. If your host is not what you expected, you can always get out and go to a hostel.
To echo M. Talon's sentiments, that's not helpful if you have no idea where a hostel is, or if it's full, or if it's overly expensive.

As for hosting, don't you run the risk of ending up with some antisocial, unhygenic fellow who will befoul your sofa and abscond with your laptop, never to be seen again?

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Essah » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:15 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
idobox wrote:It is a bad idea to rely people you don't know, whether in your home town or anywhere else, and it's always a goo thing to have a plan B. If your host is not what you expected, you can always get out and go to a hostel.
To echo M. Talon's sentiments, that's not helpful if you have no idea where a hostel is, or if it's full, or if it's overly expensive.

As for hosting, don't you run the risk of ending up with some antisocial, unhygenic fellow who will befoul your sofa and abscond with your laptop, never to be seen again?


Thats why getting in contact with the fella beforehand through skype or such is probably a good idea.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Carlington » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:45 am UTC

Couchsurfing is actually really great, as long as you're not thick about it.
There are some pretty basic ground rules you should follow when surfing, and they can be found literally all over the place. Basically, establish contact with the potential host long enough beforehand that you can get a sense of who they are and if they are what you're looking for in a host. Maybe even to the extent of arranging to meet with them just to hang out before you stay on their couch. Read the reviews, it's what they're there for. Arrange to meet in a public place, with lots of bystanders, at a reasonable hour - this way you have plenty of people around to make a fuss if shit goes south. Always have a back-up plan lined up, so that if you need to, you can back out. If you are ever uncomfortable, get out.
Similarly, there are a few common courtesies to be aware of - keep your space clean, tidy after yourself, offer to do the dishes (at the very least do your own dishes), and in terms of repayment, nobody really expects gifts, and hosts will vary, but for the most part the sort of people you will meet through Couchsurfing are the sort of people for whom just meeting new people and learning new cultures are all the repayment they could ever ask for. Even so, cook them a meal, buy a bottle of reasonable wine, or some chocolates, or something not too expensive. You can probably get a small box of decent chocolates for about $20, and you can probably stay with a person for 3 nights without overstaying your welcome - that's cheaper than any hostel I've ever been in, and I once stayed in a hostel that was a 160-man tent pitched in the botanical gardens.
When I compare my experiences couchsurfing with my experiences in hostels, couchsurfing wins every time. I have had hosts literally cover my every expense during my stay, because they "remember what it's like to be a poor backpacker", I've had hosts take me out drinking to the really good bars that aren't in the Lonely Planet guide to Lyon.

On one notable occasion, the following happened: I was due to get a train to my next stop along the way, with a host planning to meet me at the train station. Unfortunately, the trains went on strike that day, so I had to find a hostel at just a few hours' notice. I did so, found a hostel that charged €22/night. Alright, it's what there is, I guess it's manageable. (For context, I'd spent most of this trip getting accustomed with hostels in the €8-10 range, due to budget restraints).
In this hostel, just as we were going to sleep, one of our roommates sat bold upright in bed, slapped at his arm and shouted "Putain! Des poux!" - there were lice in his bed. Then there were lice in everybody's beds. We woke up the next morning to find a note taped to our bags, which had been moved to the table. The note told us that our roommate had gotten up, gone to have a shower, and the shower backed up and started spewing water, flooding the room and soaking our bags. No matter, we're going to the train now anyway, they can dry on the luggage rack. During the train trip, the conductor makes an announcement: "Please do not be alarmed, but thieves were found on the train. They have been put off the train at the last station. Please make sure all your luggage is secure." We checked. It was. The message was repeated two stops later. We checked again. My bag was gone.

After all of this, the train was delayed, and so our host wasn't there anymore when we got to the station. We called her, apologised, and explained, so she gave us directions to her place and said she'd be up until fairly late, so we were welcome to come stay despite everything. When we arrived, she opened a bottle of wine, and we shared it. Then she cooked us a meal, and told us to shower. There were warm towels waiting for us afterwards. We didn't pay her a cent, nor did we leave any gift, other than going out drinking with her one night, and she paid for most of our drinks anyway.

Basically, my anecdotal point is that there is not a hostel or hotel in the world that will provide that sort of friendliness, hospitality and just plain awesome, completely free of charge. Couchsurfing is full of people who are tripping over themselves to make your time as good as possible, because they are all travellers, too - and they want you to have as many good stories as possible to tell when you get home.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby teelo » Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:16 am UTC

Request: picture of someone surfing waves using a couch as their board, preferably in xkcd comic style.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:17 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:Izawwlgood and SexyTalon, I think you two have excessively bourgeoisie sensibilities. :-) I, mean, it's fine for you two to have those sensibilities, but it seems like both you think that paying for hostels is accessible to everyone, and everyone would be bothered by sleeping in a pig stye apartment. Some people chose to keep their apartments at home like that and don't mind it, and other people consider access to a shower and shelter to be luxury while traveling.


I'm not sure how you can come to that conclusion given the extensive explanation we've given about the budget of our travel perspective, and how neither of us have suggested that staying somewhere 'dirty' is the problem at hand. Trying to dispel someone's romanticization of Couch Surfing by reminding them that travel involves practical considerations isn't because we're privileged bourgeoisie, and honestly, it's kind of annoying that you'd immediately go there.

Again, the point is if you have the resources to travel somewhere, and are able to coordinate a Couch Surf, I personally would budget the funds to to secure a place to stay like a hostel or motel or camp ground, because I don't like the concept of relying on the kindness of strangers to house me with no contingency. I personally feel if you're able to afford a plane ticket to get somewhere exotic, and have the resources to secure food and party, you can do the research to find yourself a roof. Couch Surfing is *not* something you should endeavor upon if you haven't planned ahead, which includes potentially having a backup place to go or person to contact.

If you're really into the idea, my advice is to have at least two Couch Surfing homes in each town you're staying at, and let the alternate know that they're your 'emergency contact'.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Jofur » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:11 pm UTC

Carlington wrote:...
Basically, my anecdotal point is that there is not a hostel or hotel in the world that will provide that sort of friendliness, hospitality and just plain awesome, completely free of charge. Couchsurfing is full of people who are tripping over themselves to make your time as good as possible, because they are all travellers, too - and they want you to have as many good stories as possible to tell when you get home.

Vote #1 Couchsurfing.


Hey Carlington, can I come to Australia and crash your place? :P

Izawwlgood wrote:[Again, the point is if you have the resources to travel somewhere, and are able to coordinate a Couch Surf, I personally would budget the funds to to secure a place to stay like a hostel or motel or camp ground, because I don't like the concept of relying on the kindness of strangers to house me with no contingency. I personally feel if you're able to afford a plane ticket to get somewhere exotic, and have the resources to secure food and party, you can do the research to find yourself a roof. Couch Surfing is *not* something you should endeavor upon if you haven't planned ahead, which includes potentially having a backup place to go or person to contact.

If you're really into the idea, my advice is to have at least two Couch Surfing homes in each town you're staying at, and let the alternate know that they're your 'emergency contact'.


That's a fair set of points. I have to admit I am into the idea more for the experience than the lower costs.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Enuja » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:56 pm UTC

Carlington, that is a crazy awesome post! I want to like it, or share it, or upvote it, or whatever!

Izawwlgood wrote:I personally feel if you're able to afford a plane ticket to get somewhere exotic, and have the resources to secure food and party, you can do the research to find yourself a roof.
I may have "immediately gone there" in my first post in this thread, but you'd already made six posts warning people that couch surfing is likely to net you at least some horrific experiences, opining that people should have enough money to pay for lodging if they're going to travel, and stating that it's really not your thing. Personally, I think more people, not fewer people, should travel. I think it provides insight and empathy to different places, relaxation, and joy, and I don't want to limit enjoyable travel to people with disposable income. (I work at a large retailer for a low wage, and we actually get some vacation time: this is a very relevant issue to me and many of my co-workers, and to general cultural experiences and expectations.) I don't think that you, personally, should couch surf, and I do agree that couch surfing can be inappropriately romanticized, so a reality check is a good thing. But, in my opinion, saying that people should have enough money to stay in a hostel if they're going to travel is a bad thing, and also bourgeoisie, given that it's advocating professionalized monetary exchange instead of more casual, personal accommodations. I quoted your line above because couch surfing is doing the research to find yourself a roof! So that's a very strange argument against it.

And if you're going to be homeless, or nearly homeless, somewhere, why not travel? And why would you have to go somewhere exotic to couch surf? I live in Chicago, and, given more vacation time and more money, would be very interested in couch surfing in Toronto, Boston Seattle, and Vancouver. I didn't mention San Francisco and New York because I think I have friend's couches to stay on in those cities, but if I didn't, I'd also be interested in couch surfing there. A friend of mine in Sarasota does a lot of couch surf hosting, and I don't know if any of her visitors have been from anywhere exotic.

I'm working up the financial ladder to where I can couch surf (and, especially, host), so telling me that I probably shouldn't travel if I don't have the money to stay at a business, instead of with friends, family, or couch surfing, strikes me as rude and blind to the working class.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:59 pm UTC

I'm not sure again how you could grossly misinterpret what I've been saying this whole time, so I'll try and explain it again;
Enuja wrote:I'm working up the financial ladder to where I can couch surf (and, especially, host), so telling me that I probably shouldn't travel if I don't have the money to stay at a business, instead of with friends, family, or couch surfing, strikes me as rude and blind to the working class.

I have at no point in this thread said anything remotely suggesting 'don't travel'. I have stated, repeatedly now, that if you can afford a rather expensive ticket somewhere exotic, and have the funds to enjoy the local sites, and the funds to feed yourself, you can do a bit of research and procure a roof. Maybe I should reiterate this; under no circumstances am I suggesting not to travel. I am, in fact, suggesting that people travel, and that they do it intelligently.

Also, this whole 'I'm a struggling working class lover of life, and you're just an oppressive capitalist' is really tiresome. I feel comfortable suggesting I make about as much, if not less than you do; that isn't the point, and that isn't helpful, and that doesn't change the fact that prioritizing travel as a use of your funds (a completely valid thing to do!) means spending 95% of the expenditure doing so on only getting there.

You also just listed a bunch of places fairly local and 'easy' to travel to; where I traveling in the US, to places where I have friends, I would obviously stay with them. That's, again, not really the point.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Sungura » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:11 pm UTC

Jofur wrote:Well I'm in Rochester Hills, MI now (Near detroit) and I'll be in Flint in a few weeks. ha

I have a decent car and am open to new things.
Ha no way! I grew up there and just moved last year away from there. Yeah I don't really know what is good about the area other than The Michigan Center for Capoeira. It is AWESOME and the best hobby to take up ever. Excersize, fun, family-type community completely accepting of anyone and everyone. Best capoeira group EVER. I miss my capi family =( Seriously if you are looking for something fun, with great energy, and a wonderful accepting group of people that if you want to dive in, they are like family. Check them out. It's friggin' AWESOME.

I guess you could say I've couchsurfed but it wasn't from the site. I've been to the UK twice. First time, in 2009, I stayed with (gasp!) xkcd forum members! I had built friendships with quite a few other long-time members and I had nothing but good experiences staying with them as I hopped my way around England and Scotland. I did have the bonus of family member (aunt I'd never met) living outside of London so I had a home base, and someone trustworthy in the same country should I run into issues. Many xkcd-meetups occured on this trip. It was a blast. The only "typical" touresty stuff I did was Stonehenge, Sailsbury Cathedral, Edinburgh castle and Warrick Castle. But to me, never seeing any such buildings, it was /awesome/. Stonehenge is overrated I was bored by halfway around. Yay rocks. Cool, but quickly boring. One of those "glad I saw it" but that was about all.

In 2010 I stayed at a mix between xkcd'er houses and caving club huts. As a new caver, I just posted on a uk caving forum about visiting and and found out about their club hut system which was awesome. I didn't do any "typical tourest" stuff my entire 2010 trip.

This could be perhaps another option rather than the couchsurfing site - if you have an interest try and hook up with those in other countries with that interest. Now that I play capoeira too, that is yet another group of wonderful people.

At this point between caving and capoeira and xkcd friends I've made over the years, I could stay in a wide range of countries with locals with similar interests. It's a matter of getting there...but I have contacts and could easily stay with people in: NZ, Australia, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Russia, UK, Israel, Argentina, Brazil, Alaska, Mexico, Belize, South Africa, and I'm sure there is more if I tried those are just ones I can think of off the top of my head quickly. If I could get there (and be safe there) despite country tensions, Iran and Saudia Arabia too.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Enuja » Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:44 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:My personal position on traveling is it's expensive, and can certainly be done on the cheap, but if you can't rub together enough money to do anything more than basically rely on the kindness of locals, you should consider traveling somewhere that's cheaper to get to, so you have some funds to enjoy the destination.
What if you only have enough funds to travel a short distance, and when you get there you don't have enough money for a hostel? Your statement above strongly implies that people in this situation should not travel. This is the source of my impression that you don't think poor people should travel. Or, rather, that you simply failed to address ideal travel behavior for people who simply don't have the money to do the type of travel you, personally, prefer. And, given that the OP is talking about short distance (albeit culturally diverse) travel, this is quite equivalent to a person in the US going to other big cities in the US.

I don't think you're an evil capitalist. You're a capitalist, I'm a capitalist, just about everyone I know is a capitalist. It's just that you feel more confident and secure when depending on businesses (hostels can lose your reservations, be full, be full of bedbugs or lice, or simply be a scam instead of a legitimate business) than when depending on people. It's a personal preference you have. Other people prefer to open their homes to strangers, and to stay in the homes of strangers. It's not that your way is wiser (both ways require planning and have pitfalls), it's just that it's different. I smiled when I said you seem to have bourgeoisie sensibilities. Your sensibilities are fine. It's just that it doesn't make sense for you to try to convince other people to behave as if they had your sensibilities. Not all people do. My ex, for example, feels extremely uncomfortable in posh places, and very comfortable sleeping on the side of the road without a tent, and never travels with maps. My own sensibilities are somewhere in the middle. Neither of us know where Essah's are.

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Re: Couch surfing

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:59 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:What if you only have enough funds to travel a short distance, and when you get there you don't have enough money for a hostel?

Then you should Couch Surf. Or, as I stated, you could travel a shorter distance, and not rely on the kindness of strangers to put a roof over your head.

Enuja wrote:This is the source of my impression that you don't think poor people should travel.

Then this is an impression completely of your own fabrication based on nothing I have said or implied, and I feel reflects your own insecurities about wealth more than my impressions of how 'poor people should travel'. I find it a bit bemusing, given that the majority of my traveling was done wherein 95% of the expenditure was on gas getting there, and only recently (4 yrs ago) did I travel where I was able to shift the total expenditure towards things like 'paying for lodging' and 'buying a stranger a drink at a bar' and 'doing something touristy'.

Enuja wrote:It's just that it doesn't make sense for you to try to convince other people to behave as if they had your sensibilities.

This is obviously true, which is why I've also at no point in this thread said "You must not Couch Surf because it's a stupid and irresponsible way of doing things" and have actually a few times times mentioned what a great program it is for various reasons. But, frankly, as an aside; you telling someone that the opinion they've posted is just an opinion not perhaps shared by everyone else is, by my perspective, somewhat rich.


Enuja wrote:My ex, for example, feels extremely uncomfortable in posh places, and very comfortable sleeping on the side of the road without a tent, and never travels with maps.

You seem to be under the impression that hostel = the Ritz. It is not. Many of the hostels I stayed at in NZ were cheaper than what I was spending on food for the day, and much of the food that I was eating was purchased from a local grocery store.
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Re: Couch surfing

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:05 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Yeah, and I see that as being an advantage to Couch Surfing. But, again, honestly, you can meet locals by doing things like researching ahead of time where locals go, and going there. You want to make some new friends in a foreign place? Go to a bar.
That is about the dumbest idea ever, for those of us who don't meet people in bars in our own hometowns. The locals I'm interested in meeting in another country aren't the ones interested in meeting and then tour-guiding strangers from last night's trip to the bar. The locals I'm interested in meeting are the ones who like traveling and travelers and are eager to show people the parts of their town off the beaten track.

I'm sure there's a way to get in contact with a local ahead of time and coordinate a meal or a night out
Yes. For example, www.couchsurfing.com. My first experience with it wasn't to sleep on someone's couch, since it was in a Mexican city with really cheap hostels and it would have been the first surf for both of us, we mutually decided instead that I'd just spend the $5/night or whatever for the hostel, and my "host" could meet up with me and show me around a couple nights after finishing work.

And I'm not sure where you get the idea that "giving back" requires you to spend money on something to help your hosts. Everyone I've met through the site has been involved primarily as a way to meet interesting people from a variety of different countries and cultures. Hanging out with interesting people, for them, is worth a couple meals and a spare couch.

I'm glad the bulk of our interaction wasn't due to them being nice enough to house me.
You also keep going on about this "relying on the kindness of strangers" thing, but if you're good at planning you'll never end up entirely at the mercy of someone you've never met. Instead, you'll have a backup plan in place, such as knowledge of where the nearby hostels are, and then you'll meet your prospective host (or guest) somewhere other than a private home, with the hopes that the backup plan isn't needed. (I haven't hosted, but if I did I think my backup plan would consist of a willingness to pay for the person's first night in a hostel, if I decide I'm not comfortable hosting them for whatever reason.)

Jorpho wrote:
idobox wrote:It is a bad idea to rely people you don't know, whether in your home town or anywhere else, and it's always a goo thing to have a plan B. If your host is not what you expected, you can always get out and go to a hostel.
To echo M. Talon's sentiments, that's not helpful if you have no idea where a hostel is, or if it's full, or if it's overly expensive.
I don't go to towns where I don't know about any hostels or cheap hotels. Frankly, if you're willing to do something like couchsurfing without proper research or a plan B, you have to expect the occasional shitty situation.

As for hosting, don't you run the risk of ending up with some antisocial, unhygenic fellow who will befoul your sofa and abscond with your laptop, never to be seen again?
Couchsurfing and similar sites tend to have a system of references and chains of trust and so on, and if you're worried about someone being antisocial or sketchy, don't accept guests who haven't already met and gotten references from other people on the site. And it isn't actually that hard for me to judge someone's sociability and compatibility by means of their presence on a website, whether that be couchsurfing.com or forums.xkcd.com.

Izawwlgood wrote:I don't like the concept of relying on the kindness of strangers to house me with no contingency. I personally feel if you're able to afford a plane ticket to get somewhere exotic, and have the resources to secure food and party, you can do the research to find yourself a roof. Couch Surfing is *not* something you should endeavor upon if you haven't planned ahead
Well no shit. But who in this thread is suggesting doing it without planning ahead?

And yes, you either *have* suggested or implied (whether or not consciously) that poor people shouldn't travel, or you have grossly mis-estimated the relative costs of travel and lodging. Also, as I said above, you seemed to miss the point where people hosting surfers aren't expecting monetary remuneration, so it really truly is cheaper to surf than to find a hostel in most places in the world.
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You're also apparently repeatedly missing the point that people don't couchsurf purely in order to save money, just like people don't stay in hostels purely to save the cost of a multi-star hotel or resort, and people don't do road trips purely to avoid paying for a flight, and people don't go to local bars to meet local people purely in order to avoid the costs of your hotel bar.
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