CouchSurfers :)

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by TrueBlueFlyer, Feb 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    Who else enjoys the CouchSurfing project?

    I don't use the site for actual accommodation, I feel more at ease with hotel stays to do things at my own leisure, but its a fantastic place to meet local people around the world in a very social setting.

    On my recent trip to Europe, I was shown around and dined with locals (and other tourists) in Spain, Sweden, Italy and Morocco.

    Share your experiences, opinions, etc.
     
  2. ariyo15
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    ariyo15 Silver Member

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    Prior to having a job and (at least occasionally) having hotels paid for, I used CS extensively. During my semester abroad (to Rome from Jan-May, 2009)
    I stayed about 65 nights in 10+ countries on who-knows how many couches! Never a bad experience!

    As far as I'm concerned - unless you're looking for elite HH or SPG status - CS is the best way to stay/see the world. Not to mention, hosting is a great thing also.

    Now though, that I do go for the status and often travel for business, I make a point of at least contacting CS-ers for info or even meetups for coffee, tours, etc.

    What a great tool!!!!
     
  3. sc801
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    sc801 Gold Member

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    A friend and I used Couchsurfing last summer while touring around Ireland. Not knowing what to expect, we arrived at our first stop somewhat jetlagged and feeling quite lost as it was literally in the middle of nowhere! We were met by an incredible host who had prepared dinner for us! This individal was living in a huge farmhouse and we each had our own separate bedroom. From there we rambled about through County Galway and County Clare. It was all we could do on our last night to have him let us cook dinner for him! One of our other stops was south of Dublin right on the beachfront of Bray. Again, a most gracious hostess who had dinner waiting for us! This time we were a little more prepared and arrived with wine and some fresh strawberries from County Wexford.

    I would recommend Couchsurfing to anyone traveling solo or in a pair. It is a wonderful way to really get a local feel for wherever your travels may take you.... ( and no, you do not have to be under the age of 30 ;) )
     
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  4. I think the real value of CS is being able to unlock your destination through the eyes of a local and their social network.

    I have couch surfed numerous times (both with friends and strangers). It is usually a good experience. Many of the strangers have become friends! From an accommodation point of view, a couch is rarely going to be comfortable, but meeting some cool people and seeing something you wouldn't otherwise see will make up for it.

    The site is also great to meet similar like-minded people for coffee, drinks, etc. Every now and then you meet someone you don't really 'click' with (such as a guy who claimed to have solved nuclear fusion for home use). But most of the time the people you meet are friendly, down to earth, and generous.
     
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  5. Sasa
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    Sasa Silver Member

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    For those of you who have used couchsurfing, do you have any concerns with safety and security? I love the idea of experiencing a destination through the eyes of a local, but as an (often) single female traveler, I've been concerned about trying this path.
     
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  6. Even as a male this is always in the back of my mind. Ultimately its a two-way street. Both the host and the surfer take risk.

    It is good to start your research early, and identify a few individuals who have good/active profiles (lots of feedback). Although our society is anti-discrimination, I think it is fair to be discriminate with the type of people you want to stay with (don't flame me). Once you pick a few people to email, try and get an email dialogue going and you can start to gague what you think of the person.

    Diversify. Ask multiple people, and pick the best one, but offer to meet the others for coffee to keep the conversation going just in case. (It is rude to arrange a host, and no-show).

    If you feel uncomfortable it is okay to walk away. Do it earlier rather than later, and be polite, and you should be fine.


    Also, I think there is another site which is just for female travelers, but I don't remember what it's called.
     
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  7. Tkey
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    Tkey Silver Member

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    I have not surfed, but have hosted. It went well, though I agree with the OP and am more comfortable in a hotel.

    I am usually very protective of my home, but had a very good gut feeling about my surfer. I would not be home when he needed access, so I met him at his trade show earlier that day and confirmed my gut feeling that he was a good guy. I gave him a key and directions to my home and met him later.
     
  8. Gnopps
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    Gnopps Silver Member

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    While I never tried Couchsurfing I have used its predecessor (?) Hospitalityclub.org quite a lot and had a lot of positive experiences. I also used it for a DO and a MR!
     
  9. Sasa
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    Sasa Silver Member

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    Interesting - I didn't realize there was a feedback mechanism. While those can be gamed to some extent, as you noted, an active profile with a lot of feedback should instill some confidence.
     
  10. Yeah, plus not sharing keys and other such techniques are common. Its a bit like FT/MP... number of posts, plus feedback acts as a control mechanism... some people are cool. some are not... Pick the cool ones [​IMG]
     
  11. G_G
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    G_G Gold Member

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    I agree with you : both the surfer and the host take risk

    these are nice experiences
     
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  12. I love meeting locals, especially for food (or coffee). Lately I haven't traveled so much and have been on the hosting end. But in a few weeks, I will be traveling to New York. My husband is doing business there, and his company is paying for the hotel, so we're set as far as lodging. But we're definitely planning to meet up with some New Yorkers for drinking and dining. We actually use a site called Tripping.com.
     
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  13. intueri
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    intueri Silver Member

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    I've hosted and surfed dozens of time, and never had a bad experience. I've clicked more with some people over others (I met one of my best friends through CS), but every time was an adventure. As others have said, I certainly saw things while traveling with CSers that I probably would have otherwise missed, and it was definitely a boon while traveling in countries where I didn't speak the native language. I think one of my favorite parts of CS, though, is seeing my home city as a tourist; it's always fun to explore new nooks and crannies.
     
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  14. I have been there since it had less than 10K members and still volunteer for them. I am one of the top cash contributors to the site and support them in other ways. I can honestly say that I have gotten at least a year of total stay on over a hundred trips. Three times I got use of a private apartment for months, for free.

    I have run or worked on numerous camps, events and sponsored the first real European event in Warsaw with Casey and a few others many years ago.

    Like Hospitality club, (Veit) WAYN and many others, they all came out of the SERVAS concept.
    These sites have process issues, but all are safer than the real world.

    No matter what the sites claim, its not an original idea. Its the innovation they use to apply the idea.

    Mostly these days, I just attend events. If I stay or host, its mostly with people I already know.
     
  15. flospi
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    flospi Silver Member

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    I've been on CS for more than 5 years now. Normally I am more comfortable staying in hotels or surfing friends couches. So usually I only do real CSing, when I get to remote places like Madagaskar (great experience with Rado there) or Ha'apai Island in the Kingdom of Tonga. It's good to get a hang of those cultures that are so different to what we are used to.
     
  16. Mangy
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    Mangy Gold Member

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    It's not couch-surfing, but years ago I used Craig's List to get a room in Athens. I was expecting a nice room in a pensione or similar, run by a little old Greek lady. It wasn't and I didn't stay. Drunk guy opened the door, but it was the condom wrapper on the bedside table that made me leave
     
  17. chrissxb
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    I have CSer at my home from time to time. and being part of a local CS community is a big PLUS when you're not travelling - there's a party somewhere every night :D
    I never had any safety concerns, but I usually don't let CSer with an empty profile come to my place. deception? yes. regret it? no.
     
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  18. kayet
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    kayet Gold Member

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    I'd signed up on CS but never took the dive into using it, stuck to hostels. Being a single female traveler it seemed the wiser option. I love the concept though if I was traveling with a friend, and I do some pretty "dangerous" things when traveling, but somehow this has just never felt safe. (How it could be less safe than wandering alone around an unknown city where I barely speak the language at 5am looking for my hostel is a good question to ask myself...)[​IMG] Maybe I should look into it again?
     
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  19. diver90
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    diver90 Gold Member

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    Never done it or hosted it. But I think I can develop an entire movie script out of the idea. (Comedy or Horror Slasher, could go either way.)
     
  20. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    You should look into it again. Girls have a ridiculously easier time finding a host on CS than guys... Its a fact!

    And I'm not saying that because there are a lot of creeps out there waiting for a girl to request a couch from them so they can get laid. I'm saying that because there are a lot of girls on CS that are less hesitant to host other girls than they are for hosting random guys. It is much easier to find a reliable host when you are a girl, try it.
     
  21. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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  22. oneluckybastard

    oneluckybastard Active Member

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    Wow, that makes a whole two of us in the group... :)

    I have hosted 200+ people and surfed 100+ couches over the last four years and some of my richest travel experiences have come from CS. It can give you insight into a city or culture that you would not get from a hostel or hotel. If any MPer is passing through London, feel free to look me up for a beer or couch.
     

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