Anyone tried couch surfing?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Melanie Z, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. Melanie Z

    Melanie Z New Member

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    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!
     
  2. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    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?
     
  3. KatieC

    KatieC Well-Known Member

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    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.

    http://www.travelblog.org/Topics/8687-1.html

    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.
     
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  4. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  5. zippy

    zippy Active Member

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    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.
     
  6. Satellitegirl

    Satellitegirl New Member

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    Why not stay in hostels? They're dirt cheap and there are loads of them.
     
  7. Nekatiivi

    Nekatiivi Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  8. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  9. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

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    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 :)
     
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  10. luna_skater

    luna_skater Well-Known Member

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    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/
     
  11. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    That's an interesting site but if they can't afford a hostel every night how is it helpful to the OP?
     
  12. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    What is couch surfing? I am ignorant.
     
  13. KatieC

    KatieC Well-Known Member

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    I think it sounds like fun.
     
  14. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    There has to be someone working on a horror movie about couch surfers who end up on the wrong couch. :lol:
     
  15. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  16. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    I think films like "Hostels" and "The Human Centipede" are enough to deter me from couch surfing :lol:.
     
  17. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

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    I regret looking that up :yikes::scream:
     
  18. Melanie Z

    Melanie Z New Member

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    Thanks for all the tips. They're looking into the couch surfing website and it's really amazing how many positive reviews I've heard from people. I live in Boulder, CO where it seems to really be catching on.

    My problem is that we have budgeted enough for my daughter to stay in hostels the entire trip, but her boyfriend is running tight on money so he can't. I guess they're going to try to stay for 3 nights or so couch surfing at a time, maybe 4 times while they're there to help defray the costs of overnight hostels, or I'm going to have to cough up the money to cover his shortage so I feel better about where my daughter is. Either way, I'm sure they're going to have a great time!
     
  19. luna_skater

    luna_skater Well-Known Member

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    Depending on the location and dates needed for accommodation, there's usually quite a range of prices for this kind of thing, and can be cheaper than hostels. I didn't look into the details for the OP's itinerary. The site also includes couch surfing bookings.
     
  20. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    Don't need details - it's free they're looking for.

    It is an interesting site, though. may try a place or two there myself.
     
  21. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

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    I have not couch surfed myself, but have very close friends who frequently host couch surfers from Europe ( in the US) and used to travel that way, as well. To my knowledge, it never got dangerous for them, either traveling or hosting, and often it was very pleasant (they are a family with a teenage daughter, so they don't want dangerous either). They engaged in extensive e-mailing with potential travelers, to make sure they have a good match. They had some lovely visitors from Europe whom I met, several times just two young women traveling together, so I don't have a bad feeling about a young couple using that service. That said, I think communication with the potential host is essential, and if there is any kind of "weird vibe" going on, it's best to opt out.
    Good luck to your daughter and her BF in their travels!
    PS. I think Ajax's advice was right on.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
  22. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    this sounds really fascinating. I don't know if I'm up for full monty couchsurfing, but I will be taking a trip later this year and may look into meeting up with some hosts.

    I was also surprised at how positive the reviews seem to be - it is a really cool idea, I just assume that there would be a lot more gross pervs trying to horn in [/cynical]
     
  23. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    Somewhat OT but ... just came across this from one of my favourite time-wasting web sites, Passive-Aggressive Notes. :lol:
     
  24. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    I signed up on the couchsurfing site, and there happened to be a local get together a few blocks from my house last weekend so I went.

    It kind of reminded me of FSU meetups....minus the sequins ;)
     
  25. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    No sequins? How dull :drama:
     
  26. Hedwig

    Hedwig Rarely here anymore but I try to be better!

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    couch surfing is really nice. There is a monthly meet-up in my town as well from people who provide beds.
    I had a few guests as well already.
    It is a great way to travel. Better than hostels if you want to visit the city because you get tips from your host.
    It is usually expected that you bring a small present to your host.

    I usually don't use it myself when I travel because I want to be very flexible. With couch surfing you have to be very considerate of your host of course and cannot just expect to find a waiting host 24h for instance.

    I wouldn't worry about it! They will have a a great time with it. :)
     
  27. kalamalka

    kalamalka Member

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    I haven't joined couchsurfing, but have hosted a number of people through another hospitality-sharing group, hospitalityclub.org, and always had a good experience. I've also connected with people through the site when planning trips, and had meals or spent days with hosts. I agree with the advice to read people's profiles and look at comments from previous guests and/or hosts carefully (particularly for a very young couple) - and also that it is better not to look at it as just a free place to stay, but rather as a way to connect with locals and meet some interesting people during your travels - usually people who either travel a lot themselves or like to meet people from other parts of the world, if not both. For anyone who likes people, I'd say go for it.
    It's also a good idea to plan to mix it up between hostels and couchsurfing/hospitality club - both because there may be places that either the hostel or the hospitality option is particularly attractive, and because in one you meet fellow travellers, and in the other you meet locals.
     
  28. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I don't have anything of substance to say other than my friend is registered on the couch surfing website and I got to meet really nice looking British dudes in the process.