An important part of every voyage is getting some well-deserved rest. One of the cheapest and relatively comfortable options is Couchsurfing.
1. Creating profile
After you join the community on https://www.couchsurfing.com/, you can sleep almost anywhere in the world for free. Almost. You are not required to pay (with money) but somehow help your host in return for his or her hospitality. You can bring a small souvenir from your country, cook a local dish, give your host guitar lessons, rehearse French with them or tell them all about your experience in hitchhiking around Europe. Or something else, beneficial and interesting to the host. It is not meant as a free bed for homeless people or someone on a business trip, trying to save money. You are actually required to fill in long online profile, make yourself sound interesting and friendly enough to get invited to people’s homes.
2. Getting reviews
After creating your profile, there is extra work to do. Most experienced hosts will have nothing to do with newbies without reviews and verifications. You might be a fake profile. And it is hard to get reviews without actually being hosted. Sort of catch 22. But there are many couch surfing events, where you can meet the local community and network. Since in Slovenian culture, letting stranger in your home is a bit of a science fiction, there are maybe one or two meetups in 14 days. In the capital Ljubljana. Elsewhere closer to zero. But in Brussels or Amsterdam, numbers are much higher.
3. Where will I sleep?
We couch surfers are usually not very picky people. We sleep wherever, as long it is clean, warm and sheltered. As the name of the community tells you, you will most likely sleep on a couch in someone’s living room, but sometimes people let you use extra rooms or maybe only a corner of their dorm room where you can sleep on the floor in your sleeping bag. It is usually a good idea to read your hosts full profile, his likes and dislikes, house rules, what you get and what he expects in return. You might be allowed to use the kitchen or wash your clothes, or not. It depends on the person. It is not a hotel, so you are not automatically entitled to anything. Someone might except snake lovers only and you will share your room with his pets. Or expect you to share his love for metal music and go for a beer in his favourite biker bar downstairs. There might be a secret code hidden in the long description of his hobbies on his profile, and you have to use it in your mail to prove that you read and agree with the rules.
4. Benefits for hosts
I have usually hosted Couchsurfing backpackers or met them for a cup of coffee and chatted about local sights or gave them a tour around town centre. I met some really nice people, interesting and open, and learned from them. I can now cook two modernized Chinese dishes. And know how to hitchhike around Europe …. in theory. On community organized events I have explored hidden parts of Brussels in Belgium even most locals don’t know about. And we had really awesome night walk and home cooked dinner around Eindhoven in Netherlands during the light festival.
As a guest with Couchsurfing platform, I was never very successful. I don’t have the patience to contact the host early enough and plan my arrival to their town in advance. Since they are normal people with jobs or school I have to take in the account their working hours and availability to host. And, not every host will want to meet me. I might not be interesting enough, have wrong view on life or nationality.
5. Couchsurfing cons
There are also some creepy men, who will invite me just because I look moderately attractive or female on my profile pic. Or as my older and wiser friend once commented, because they need someone to chop to small pieces, and bury in the garden. The being chopped part can be usually avoided by reading reviews of someone’s former guests and checking his verifications and experience in advance.
6. Backup plans
You should always have a backup plan in case your host doesn’t show up or he does and you realize he isn’t as friendly and safe as advertised. In which case you can say sorry, I changed my mind, report him to Couchsurfing community and go sleep in to a hostel.
Since goblins love to travel, but usually do it on budget, we use Airbnb. By using this link to subscribe, you get 22 euro of your first trip, and we get a little discount on our next. If you are not into Airbnb, there is a Booking.com link on the right side of our page. Find cheap rooms in hostels or hotels, and … travel as much as you can.