Couchsurfing takes courage and generosity, and of course, a thirst for travel and adventure! While it might sound scary to first-timers, Couchsurfing has been a great experience for most budget travellers wanting to immerse themselves in local culture. To break things down easier, here’s our guide to Couchsurfing!
Imagine backpacking across Europe or Asia and instead of returning to an expensive hotel that’s eating half your budget, you come back home to a local friend or family who’s really excited to have you over for the week! That’s what Couchsurfing is offering, and at no extra cost!
💜 Stay Up To Date:
– Break-Up Horror Stories From Your Community That’ll Make You Feel Glad You’re Single
– Top 10 Adventurous Activities To Try In Bali
– Love, Set, Match: S$500 Up For Grabs When You Find Your Perfect Match This V-Day!
What Exactly Is Couchsurfing?
Image credits: Couchsurfing
If you’ve ever crashed on a friend’s couch for the night, borrowed a pillow and a blanket, and bought some snacks while you watched a movie together, you’ve pretty much nailed the basics of Couchsurfing. But in this case, you’re probably meeting your host for the first time!
Couchsurfing might feel intimidating. The thought of letting a stranger hang out at your place could be terrifying to some but it has, for many travellers, been the perfect opportunity for meaningful cultural exchange and developing more connections.
For more context: Couchsurfing is an online service curated for travellers to form a close-knit community and offer homestay accommodation for free. It’s essentially like Facebook meets Airbnb: Travellers have to create a strong profile to get started and interact with the community. The community then organises monthly and weekly meetups and hangouts, where fellow local and overseas travellers congregate and socialise.
It’s a great way to get comfortable with the community before requesting accommodation. Travellers, or “surfers”, once comfortable, send requests to stay with hosts in the country or city they might be travelling in. Willing hosts then offer accommodation to the guests in the form of crashing on their couches, spare beds, or even an air mattress for their stay. Surfers from all parts of the world Couchsurf for the best local experience in their destination cities and towns and participate in local life more authentically than ever — having local meals, watching local TV Shows, taking part in local festivals, and experiencing what life is really like in that city!
YouTrip’s Guide To Couchsurfing 2023: Find out more about Couchsurfing here
How Much Does It Cost?
The service is an app and a website, which was completely free until the great Pandemonium. However, it now charges a small fee for using the platform — an annual subscription of $14.29, or a monthly one of $2.39. The homestays are, however, fully free, and hosts are instructed to “never ask a guest to pay for their lodging”.
Guests are, though, very encouraged to offer their gratitude in other, more wholesome ways, such as treating the host to meals or little gifts — or the most Asian-approved way of all, offering to help out with chores and household duties.
YouTrip’s Guide To Couchsurfing 2023: Find out more here
But… Is Couchsurfing Safe?
Well, mostly yes (and sometimes no). The ones who have Couchsurfed have great experiences, while the ones who haven’t mostly rely on a few horror stories. The community is formed primarily by travellers who are willing to extend a good experience to their like-minded guests. So the only obligation of both parties is to be good company to each other.
However, the service does offer many instructions on staying safe while Couchsurfing, including thoroughly vetting the guests and hosts, looking at references and reviews carefully, and immediately removing oneself from situations where one might not feel comfortable or safe.
A starting point would be to create and accept a strong and transparent profile, with ample positive and clear photos. With many specifics and filters on, it would be easier to narrow down to the right host/guest for your stay. Having like-minded guests or hosts, with perhaps a common interest or hobby could be a great way to establish trust.
Besides, the service has a $25 verification to match profiles with their real identities using official documents and uses detailed and comprehensive references for hosts and guests to look through, and vouching system for Couchsurfers to ascertain their safety.
In many cases, the hosts and guests come to a general agreement like not letting the surfer stay alone without the host present, or following a lenient curfew to prevent any mishaps, especially in less-safer countries like India or Turkey. This, however, does not eliminate the need for doing some homework before the trip and staying vigilant and aware of the local standards of safety.
Being a Couchsurfer, consequently, also asks for open-mindedness. As people of different cultures interact with each other, there is nervousness and apprehension about having “strangers” around the house with very different lifestyles and routines. But soon, hosts start seeing the guests as friends and less as outsiders as trust builds among them.
YouTrip’s Guide To Couchsurfing 2023: For more tips & guides on Couchsurfing head here
How Is Couchsurfing Different From Airbnb?
Image credits: RoamRight
Well, firstly, it’s much cheaper than Airbnb! Even if you book only one stay having paid the ~$14 fee annually, it’s still a really good rate for your accommodation. The service charge for Airbnb would be about 6%-12% additional to your rent, while Couchsurfing only has it flat subscription charge and the accommodation remains free.
Moreover, at an Airbnb, the host seldom participates in cultural exchanges. But Couchsurfing encourages hosts to give the surfers a taste of the local culture, like friends who might take them around town when they visit. It would be unfair to expect the quiet and privacy of an Airbnb while Couchsurfing.
Couchsurfing, however, lies at the discretion of the host. Last-minute changes or unforeseen circumstances could mutilate travel plans, and the confirmation of booking an Airbnb might be a little more reassuring. It’s always recommended to have a Plan B and C. After all, it’s difficult to confront your hosts if they’re putting you up for free, right?
Why Would People Host Others For Free?
Image credits: Glassmonger
It’s a valid question — especially if you could just run an Airbnb itself. But the whole philosophy of Couchsurfing is meeting new people from around the world and building a travel community. Some hosts, who might not get to travel as much, find their surfers as a way of travelling vicariously. Some do it to improve social skills, while others do it to expand their social network. So if you’re not someone who spends their energy socialising, Couchsurfing might be a daring challenge!
Couchsurfing In Singapore
Image credits: The Travel Intern
Singapore, too, has an avid Couchsurfing community, with over 69,768 hosts! And while many requests can be found on Couchsurfing’s website, there’s also a Facebook group to join.
YouTrip’s Guide To Couchsurfing 2023: Find more about it here
Want To Know If Couchsurfing Is For You?
Image credits: Pexels
Without a doubt, Couchsurfing is unconventional. So it would be only fair to ask yourself some questions to know if you’re ready for it!
- Do you like meeting new people?
Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you’re most likely going to be swarmed by people all around you — including your host’s friends and family, or even other Couchsurfers the host might be housing.
- Are you flexible?
Are you open to plans shifting around or even falling through? Contingencies and backups plans provided by hotels are not available here, so would you be willing to rough it in case you need to?
- Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone?
Exploring new cultures is all about trying new things and challenging your preexisting notions about them.
Whether or not you tick off every point on this list, Couchsurfing can be an adventure of a lifetime and something all travel enthusiasts should try at least once!
YouTrip’s Guide To Couchsurfing 2023: You can find more about it here
Ready To Crash That Couch?
So as we can see, Couchsurfing makes for a wonderful and unique experience, bringing with it a plethora of memories and lifelong friendships, with a tinge of adventure and thrill. Travelling is one of the best pleasures of life and what better way to share it with others? While paying for your plane tickets or buying your host a thank-you gift, don’t forget to make use of your YouTrip Card to lock in those wholesale exchange rates and skip those pesky bank fees!
As Singapore’s favourite multi-currency wallet, we aim to get those pesky fees out of the way and help you save on your travels. With the best foreign exchange rates, no longer will you have to deal with those long queues at money changers! So if you’re looking for a go-to travel card, sign up for your complimentary YouTrip card today with <YTBLOG5> and get FREE S$5 in your account! Then, head over to our YouTrip Perks page for exclusive offers and promotions — we promise you won’t regret. For more great tips and articles like this, join our Telegram (@YouTripSG) and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter here or down below.
And while you’re at it, why not join the conversation with thousands of #YouTroopers in our very own Community Telegram Group @YouTripSquad? Get tips and tricks to everything YouTrip including exclusive invites to exciting events and experiences, & be part of the #YouTripSquad! 💜