View Full Version : Anyone tried couch surfing?

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Melanie Z
08-15-2011, 11:14 PM
Okay, my daughter has a trip planned to Europe September 5th through November 2nd with her boyfriend. His financial circumstances have changed a little the past few weeks and he's running tight on money. They are now looking to couch surf a bit while there vs. staying in hostels the entire two months.

He's such a great kid we're trying to help him out as much as possible but I'm concerned about the couch surfing idea as they're only 18. Has anyone tried this?

They have a eurail pass and are just looking for interesting places to visit. I would rather they "couch surf" a bit with someone a little known, versus someone you meet on the couch surfing website. If you know anyone with an extra room who wouldn't mind people crashing there for a few days please let me know. They're both pretty laid back and easy going.

Thanks for any ideas or suggestions!

08-15-2011, 11:29 PM
I can't offer an extra room, being on the wrong continent :lol:, but I too would be concerned about the couch surfing idea. From what I have heard, there are a lot of people posting on couch surfing boards who are genuine about the idea, but those boards are also a prime hangout for perverts, robbers, etc.

It might be a little safer with the two of them travelling together, rather than someone on their own, but if couch surfing is the only way to do the trip, perhaps they could arrange to do something like meet the host the day before in a neutral location. If they don't like the host and there is no alternative housing, is it possible to do something like give them an emergency-only credit card to rent a hotel room if they need to?

08-16-2011, 12:22 AM
I was reading a thread about couchsurfing on TravelBlog recently. Here's a link to the site, where others were asking about the safety aspects, etc.


Hope you find it helpful. I like the idea myself, it seems you can meet some pretty fantastic people, but you'd want to be careful as well. These posters discuss that in full.

08-16-2011, 03:20 AM
I think it is a great idea but could go so horribly wrong. There is a big risk involved, unfortunately. I wouldn't be brave enough to do it and I am not social enough to feel comfortable in a strangers house.

08-16-2011, 03:29 AM
I tried out couch surfing for the first time recently in Germany and Poland. I camped in some dudes' yard in a beach resort town north of Berlin, and then stayed with a young couple in a one-room apartment in Gdansk. I felt a little awkward about the whole thing (I guess I like a certain amount of independence while traveling and tend to feel like I'm in the way when staying with people, so this was out of my comfort zone a little), but I'm really glad I did it. The Polish couple were fantastic hosts - they took us everywhere, showed us the sights, took us out to parties, and showed us how to make pierogies. There were probably certain touristy activities that we missed, but it was a really good way to experience the local culture in a more real way than your usual hostel experience. I think it'd be a great way for your daughter and her bf to see Europe as long as they're careful about who they stay with.

08-16-2011, 04:02 PM
Why not stay in hostels? They're dirt cheap and there are loads of them.

08-16-2011, 05:33 PM
What cities they are going to travel? In Europe you can get a hostel room for 10-20 euros for a night in almost every city.

Anyway I think that they are relatively safe since they are traveling together. Many of my friends have couch surfed and usually you can pick out the wierdos after few emails.

08-16-2011, 06:32 PM
Why not stay in hostels? They're dirt cheap and there are loads of them.

The difference is that with CouchSurfing you're staying with a local who might be able to be your personal guide and you can experience the culture directly with that person. In best case scenario it makes for a wonderful and memorable experience in a foreign country, but I do think you have to be somewhat of an extrovert, be very considerate of your host, and don't expect too much in term of privacy.

08-16-2011, 06:42 PM
I have hosted a few couchsurfers before and surfed myself in Montana at the home of an incredibly nice couple who went above and beyond in accommodating me: They picked me up at the airport, took me canoeing and cooked meals for me. I occasionally meet couchsurfers who are passing through Boston and act as a tour guide. My experiences have always been positive and I've met a ton of very cool people. Everybody I met through couchsurfing is into it not because it's free (though that helps!) but also because they genuinely wanted to meet interesting people and get a local's perspective of a place. You don't get that from staying in a hotel/hostel!

That said, I totally understand your concern. Given that they are traveling as a couple, I think they will be safe as long as they use common sense in picking their hosts. I'm female and I would never surf at the home of a single guy or with a household of male roommates. They can stick to female hosts or couples/families. The website lets you filter by the type of host and you can read references left by other people for that host - pick someone that has many positive references, whose address is verified and who doesn't have a single negative reference. Also check that the person has a fully filled out profile and at least a few pictures posted, and exchange a few emails with them beforehand to get a sense of them. All of this helps in weeding out any impostors/pervs. As long as you stick to these measures, I wouldn't worry.

Maybe you can help them pick hosts? It would put your mind at ease as well :)

08-17-2011, 12:31 AM
I haven't couch surfed, but I have used Airbnb. In spite of the recent negative press it's received, my experience was wonderful. It looks like a similar company has recently sprung up in Europe and might be worth checking out: http://www.9flats.com/

08-17-2011, 01:53 AM
I haven't couch surfed, but I have used Airbnb. In spite of the recent negative press it's received, my experience was wonderful. It looks like a similar company has recently sprung up in Europe and might be worth checking out: http://www.9flats.com/

That's an interesting site but if they can't afford a hostel every night how is it helpful to the OP?

08-17-2011, 03:35 AM
What is couch surfing? I am ignorant.

08-17-2011, 03:48 AM
CouchSurfing - Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch ...
www.couchsurfing.com/ - A volunteer-based worldwide network connecting travelers with members of local communities, who offer free accommodation and/or advice.

I think it sounds like fun.

08-17-2011, 03:54 AM
There has to be someone working on a horror movie about couch surfers who end up on the wrong couch. :lol:

08-17-2011, 05:40 PM
What is couch surfing? I am ignorant.

You sign up and fill out a profile about your personality, interests etc. If you are travelling, you can look up people who are couchsurfing members living in the area where you're going and ask to stay at their house (if they have specified in their profile that they're open to hosting). The benefits are that it's free, and by staying with a local, you get insider tips about the area and a perspective you wouldn't get from staying at a hotel. Most couchsurfing members are open-minded and well-travelled people so they are very interesting to meet and talk to.

Similarly, if you offer to host, travelers will contact you and ask if they can stay in your house. If you don't want to host, you can also offer to meet travelers for a few hours and act as a tour guide or have a drink etc.

Bigger cities have message boards on the couchsurfing site where travelers can coordinate to meet up, local couchsurfers organize social events and invite travelers etc. It's a fun way to meet people.