As I promised you from the last post, I finally try to share some of my knowledge about being a good couchsurfer! Since the experience was great and so many friends of mine asked about this, so I would like to give some tips become succesful couchsurfer for any newbie:
1. Fulfil your profile
I am sure you have read this so many times but imagine if a stranger wanted to stay at your place. You sure would like to check out his/her profiles right? So there you go, fill in every detail (don’t make a novel though) and make sure you show your personality wise in your profile. Cos it will bring assurance if you want to couchsurf even though it your first time to do it without any references.
Oh, I have hosted so many couchsurfer beginners and one thing that I always check is their profile first!
2. Upload your REAL photos
I can’t stress enough that many people put pictures of their pets; dogs or cats or beers or anything on the profile picture. No judgement but I would really like to see if my couchsurfer-wannabe sure have a face to put with their name. One of the thing I usually check is that if my host or my couchsurfer had real photos, whether it is you, your travel time or even put a picture with your hosts – make sure you have a face to put your name into!
3. References do count!
Surprisingly it is not how many friends you have in Couchsurfing that can count your success level, but how many references that you have. Therefore, having as many good references as possible will be truly an advantage!
I remember the first time that I want to have references, but I couldn’t host people because of house situation; so I decided to meet up some travellers and join the Couchsurfing Weekly Meeting (every city should have one!). I met many good fellows that were kind enough to give me references back then! After that, my time to do couchsurfing in Southeast Asia was pretty smooth because my hosts trusted me through my good references.
One of another good idea to use Couchsurfing is to find the travel buddy. You can always find other travellers that will go to the same place like you will – so why not make a good companion instead? I found cool travellers to spent the afternoon with in Vientiane, Laos. Check out the city group and see the list of travellers or even post your own.
You do have to build your profile in Couchsurfing slowly, after all, Rome was not build in one day. By being active participating in meeting people, you can have a good time plus extra references! Yay!
4. Genuinely read your hosts reference and profiles.
Sometimes people just send the request to anyone who accepts guests without reading the profile first. You might be surprised on how your host can become clever and insert a password on their profiles to check if you read them or not. It is one of the key points that you might get a host!
All of my hosts were unique and different, but some of them do have several kinds of special treatment that you have to check their profile. One of my experience was when I was going to be hosted by a nudist in Edinburgh. He asked me properly in the message to completely be fine with him socialising naked all the time in the house. Of course, being raised up in a Moslem family, I felt pretty weird back then. So I cancelled my stay and find another host that were suitable for me.
5. Write real message for your host – not a template!
As I know that Couchsurfing now provides template message, sometimes it is better if you wrote a good message to your future host genuinely. Write them about your similar hobby or the place that you two have travelled, therefore your host will feel a pure intention that you have and proof that you have read their profile.
To be honest, I do sometimes using a template for accepting or declining the request, but to couchsurf, I often write the host that I really want to meet – a real message!
6. Send request in proper time
Some hosts already have proper schedules but some of them are not. I often send them to request 1-2 weeks before I come visit them. Once I send some requests exactly 1 month before – a couple of them told me that they still don’t know if they are available or not, nonetheless I got an acceptance request! A regular host usually keeps on track on which date they are able to host people and which date they can not. So my suggestion is 1 month until 1 week before is good to go!
Make sure don’t send the request too sudden too – for example, 2 days before your trip because some of them will already have couchsurfer or have something else to do. Another tip – when it’s a really urgent travel, you can always join the Last Minute Request groups that often have in every city. It is a group where people can find fast couches in a very last minute. I have never tried those but maybe it can help, then again – always check their profile!
7. Be humble, share the cultures and give back!
So now you finally landed a host and you can’t wait to meet them! Several things to prepare is that you should always ask their address, phone number and where to meet them properly.
As not many Indonesian travellers try to do Couchsurfing, I always share my knowledge about Indonesia, tell story and show them pictures about my daily life (You’ll be surprised how your normal life turns out to be exciting thing for them), cook traditional food (bring the pack up spices like Rendang or Soto), bring beers, coke or wine, and my favourite thing to do is to give souvenirs from Indonesia for my host; whether is a keychain, scarf, or anything authentic!
8. Stay alerted and always have a backup plan
As I mentioned before, you should always, always have a backup plan. Write down your host’s address and phone number, track the nearest hostel you can go, and also don’t forget to send your family and friends on these notes too.
Being a solo female traveller who likes to couchsurf, I always keep my alert antenna up all the time! One tip is that sleeping bag can always be your good friend whenever you feel uncomfortable for many reasons. If any request or questions that you feel is inappropriate, speak up and say your thoughts. Don’t forget, you can always say ‘No’ to your host.
9. Don’t be a burden. Respectful guest please..
One of my host in Malaysia told me a story about the importance of having the local number. Some of the hosts feel annoyed when their couchsurfer does not have local number to get in touch, and this became a burden for them to keep their track – whether they will come to the meeting point or not! I understand that some of the budget backpackers think that they can live with Wifi only, but I would really recommend having local SIM card for the sake of your host. It is always the first thing I do once I landed in the airport.
Don’t also forget to tidy up your stuff, and clean up when you finish use dishes or bathroom. Make sure that you become a genuine proper guest.
10. Return the kindness. Be a host.
After my long trip in Southeast Asia and feel so much welcome on many homes, I truly feel that I should do the same like them. Once you understand the true kindness of your hosts and the feeling of being a stranded traveller, you often feel like you want to give something back to the community. Be a good host and provide a home to another traveller out there. It was many reasons why you have so many hosts now in Couchsurfing – they often feel the same way too 🙂
Now, once you understand these, I figure it’s time to search for your first host! No need to be fancy, you can try to couchsurf at the neighbour town to see if it’s suitable for you. Not many people feel comfortable doing this, so you better check before you go too far. I promise you, even though you feel weird in the beginning you will enjoy the experience afterwards, then become a couchsurfing addicts – like me!
Do these tips help? Please comment below to let me know.
© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.