The concept of CouchSurfing is the greatest invention in the world of travel. Be it a solo travel/cheap travel/meeting locals/finding fellow travelers in a new place, CouchSurfing eases your travel in most parts of the world. For many people, it seems like horror to stay with or host an unknown person/family. But trust me, you would love CouchSurfing if you follow some tricks and know what kind of people to approach and how to approach.
Experience of CouchSurfing varies depending on the country and region. I was glad to experience the best out of it during my travel to Jaipur, India.
How to be a good CouchSurfing guest
- Join the CouchSurfing community and create your profile. Make sure to upload your “real” photo and write as many details as possible in all the sections.
- While building your profile, clearly mention your interests, what you can offer as a guest. If you are traveling with a mission, clearly mention it and provide the link for your website/channel/social network.
- Be a verified member for better chances to find a host.
- It would be great if you already have some references, else attend local CouchSurfing events, meet people and get as many references as possible.
- India has people of varied mindset. As I observed, few use CouchSurfing just like any dating app. When I posted a public trip to Haridwar, many men from several parts of India offered to host me. Later on, I realized, there are users who don’t understand the motto of CouchSurfing. I started being picky and read each profile before sending a request to the host. That way I got wonderful hosts who made my stay comfortable and memorable. Hence I would suggest, be careful while choosing your host in India. Read the host profile thoroughly and send a request if you are convinced that the profile is genuine.
- Choose the host who has genuine references. Read the references before you place a request. If needed ask for professional/social network details and website details.
- It is important the way you write requests. Choose an accurate “From” and “To” date. If you are not sure about the exact date, choose a tentative date and mention in your message that your dates might move a bit according to your plan and arrival.
- It is a must to write a message in detail which is convincing enough for the host. Mention what do you find interesting in the host’s profile and why do you want to choose them. By hosting you, what kind of experience you offer them.
- If you are traveling with a pet/Kids, mention in advance. Some hosts may not be pet-friendly or kids-friendly. If you are a smoker, make sure to ask whether they are comfortable hosting a smoker. Same with meat, many Indians are religious and they may not encourage you to cook or eat a non-vegetarian meal while staying with them.
- Before the move-in date, be communicative and discuss your plans. Inform them what time you are going to arrive etc..
- Be mindful of the property and surroundings. If they offer food, taste it. Indians consider guests as gods. If you are going to stay with a family, you may meet generous people who would love to feed you, they may offer food and force you to have it. Be generous and understand they are not being pushy or rude. It is their custom, that’s how they grew up.
- CouchSurfing is the best way to know local places that normal tourists do not visit. Apart from tourist attractions, your host may suggest you some beautiful local sites, eat in some good restaurants or accompany you. Make sure to ask for suggestions and involve them in your plans.
- Try to understand their culture, background, interest, etc.. and share yours. If you are a good cook and they are open to taste your meal, then cook them a meal or offer a dine out and pay for it. It is not mandatory, but a nice way to be thankful for their help.
How to find travel-mates using CouchSurfing
Traveling is not always cheap. In some areas you may have to book an expensive taxi or simply having a partner may give you perks. If you are traveling solo, meeting a fellow traveler excites you. CouchSurfing is the best way to find a travel mate. You may post a public trip mentioning you are looking for a travel mate based on your reason. Else simply search for travelers in the current location. CouchSurfing shows you travelers who are visiting the place at the same time as yours. Based on your requirements, you may opt for a traveler or group of travelers for a meet-up.
Does CouchSurfing helps to simply hang out with locals or travelers
CouchSurfing offers “Hangouts” functionality in the app. You may find people who are ready to hangout. Add yourself as available to hang out and people may find you and approach you.
If you are still figuring out reasons to visit India, my article 7 obvious reasons to travel across India may help you. You may be interested to read the Workaway experiences of a solo traveler.