Why Couchsurfing is nothing to be afraid of


If you’re not familiar, couchsurfing.org is a site that allows travelers to offer their hospitality to one another.  It’s sort of like an organized version of the “pay it forward” concept.  When I host someone, they can rate their experience for everyone to see on my profile (kind of like a review on ebay).  The idea is then, that if I’m an awesome host or rather if couchsurfing reviews prove me to be a likable and trustworthy person, someone else out there may feel comfortable hosting me when I need to be hosted.  Of course, I will in return check out that person’s profile just as they will check out mine.  It’s like MySpace with a function.  You can check it out for yourself here.

Every time I tell someone I’m couchsurfing or hosting a couch surfer, I get a hesitant response: “Is that safe?”  Valid question I suppose in the world we live in, depending on how full you see the glass.  Well I guess all I can say is that all of my experiences with couchsurfing, both hosting and being hosted, have been extremely enjoyable.  If you’re nervous about it, be really thorough and picky in reviewing the profiles of your potential hosts.  And don’t stay with someone whose profile is absolutely empty if you’re worried about the anonymity of it all.

There’s also a feature that allows you to organize hang-outs.  If you want to be really cautious, organize a hang-out with someone whose couch is available then ask them for a place to stay once you’ve felt out how safe they are in a public place.  However you go about it, I believe the structure allows you to decide what you’re comfortable with.

I have to admit I’ve seen the receiving end of this much less often than my husband.  We’ve done plenty of hosting and have always really enjoyed each guest.  I’ve only experienced two couchsurf stays but both were incredible and left me feeling I’d experienced a place in an entirely different and closer way than I would have on my own from a hotel or hostel even.  You can read about our stay with Nico in Zakynthos here.

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