hospex

Guide on Couchsurfing – how to share your life

We all live in a shared economy world where you can share things, your time and your life. Sharing travels is definitely a part of it and this guide on Couchsurfing will introduce you to the idea of sharing your travels.

share your life - couchsurfing and other hospex
How to share your life

Why to share your life?

I have hosted or surfed/travelled using different hospitality exchange services for many years. Thanks to that I visited several countries, some exotic, some expensive, some just neighbour countries and never regretted doing it:

Brasil
Guatemala
Iran
Kazakhstan
Tajikistan
Ukraine
china
Indonesia
USA
Mexico
Ecuador
Peru
Chile
Crete
Estonia

We host travellers all the time, even when our kids were very little. Here you can see how we do it:

We share our life because it inspires us to travel more, to thing differently, to learn more about others and it extremely enriches our life. Since our kids are born now each member of our family gets their own inspiration from our guests.

Sharing economy world

We live in a sharing economy world, where we share almost all aspects of our life:

  • data / information (storage in clouds, sharing pictures, information, social media status)
  • car (car2go) / bike / communication (blablacar)
  • other commodities (clothes, equipment)
  • work space or work
  • living space (airbnb)
  • foundraising (crowd-funding)
  • life and travels -> Hospex like Couchsufing, house-sitting like Trusted Housesitters

Hospex – before and after

How to share your life - Hospex
How to share your life – Hospex

We are now in love with Couchsurfing but believe me, there were and still are many similar services, however not as efficient as Couchsurfing:

  • SERVAS – is a very “old” service where you need a physical letter of recommendation from an acknowledge person in your community to give prove of yourself. When you travel you get a booklet with basic information on hosts plus phone numbers and availability
  • HOSPITALITYCLUB – created before Couchsurfing, with a very basic and user unfriendly webpage. It worked very well however in pre-couchsufing era. We hosted and travelled a lot using this website
  • COUCHSURFING – deffinitely the best of all hospex sites, user friendly with a huge base of both hosts and travellers. After a few years of using Hospitalityclub Couchsurfing became my favourite and though it changes with time to more commercial, less romantic site, it still stays my favourite
  • BEWELCOME – French alternative to Couchsurfing which we tested but it does not work as efficient as Couchsurfing but still worth a try

Other great services which allow you to share you life:

  • HELPX – volunteering opportunities of different type, very basic website, but it works. We received a number of travellers/vonunteers via this website and almost managed to volunteer ourselves in South America
  • WORKAWAY – good site for volunteers, more commercial, but works fine
  • WOOFING – very good and recommended website to find places on organic farms. I’ve met many people who used it but never tried it myself

TRUSTEDHOUSESITTERS, HOUSESWAP etc. – websites where you can either sit somebody’s home or swap your place with another one. We did both using actually proper groups in Couchsurfing (we posted or commented on group posts and so arranged a house sit or house swap)

Guide on Couchsurfing – How does it work?

It’s important that you know that in Couchsurfing you have these four options and you do not have to do all of them. You can just do one, for example just travel or just meet people at Couchsurfing events:

  • TRAVEL – sleep at somebody’s place and share your travel stories with them
  • HOST – share your life with travellers and get inspired yourself
  • JOIN MEETINGS – meet like-minded people to share some activities
  • POST IN GROUPS – exchange house, meet, consult others on important topics (like education), post your travel plans or find last-minute couch

1. Prepare your profile thoroughly:
– add a few nice pictures with your face
– put more description than “open and likes to meet other people”
– describe one amazing thing you’ve done?
– what can you teach others/share with others?
– what people gain from meeting you?
– get references (from friends? from a CS meeting in town? add me🙂
– verification -> not a must but gives you more trust 🙂

Guide on Couchsurfing – surf a couch

2. Search though the list of hosts and send a Couch Request
– filter list of hosts according to number of places available, maybe age group?
– read 2-5 references, check bad references (if any)
– if you’re a single girl – rather take a couple or a family as a host
– read My Home section carefully
– check for “hidden key words” (sometimes hosts ask to write something specific in couch request)
– personalize your message (experienced hosts can recognize copy-paste requests)
– say what you can share with the host so that he has a reason to host you

3. optionally: create a Public Trip so that hosts can invite you

4. optionally: post in a CS Group (for example Malta Couchsurfing) or on Facebook group for Couchsurfers (but always check Couchsurfing profile, do not trust FB profiles)

5. Confirm and get address / contact data
– be sure you know how to get there (be independent, do not expect to be picked up)
– say more or less what time you arrive and ask if this is ok for the host
– get hosts phone number / WhatsApp – just in case
– bring a small gift (ideally from your home country)
– be ready to cook something / spend quality time with your host
– do not use the place as a “free hotel”
– be sure you know and respect the house rules
– clean after yourself (your dishes, shower)
– help out with little house chores, if you can
– in doubts say you changed your plans and leave the place
– write honest reference but remember about culture differences

Guide on Couchsurfing – share your life with travellers

Host people so that you travel while staying at home:
– change your status (“Accepting Guests” or “Maybe Accepting Guests”) and update My Home section
– prepare a place for guests (sofa, separate room, clean sheets)
– describe it thoroughly in My Home section in your profile
– think of spending time with your guests (don’t be too busy)
– cook or eat with your guests
– have a drink at night, if you’d like it
– go out with your guests, if you’d like it
– no need to give the key
– it’s fine to say the guests that they have to leave your house with you when you leave (I would recommend to state it in My Home section)
– be tolerant to other customs / behaviour / beliefs / opinions
– write honest reference but remember about culture differences

How to share your life