15 Couchsurfing Host Profile Screening Tips for Couchsurfers Newbies
1. Couchsurfing Host Profile
2. 15 Tips to Look Out when Selecting a Couchsurfing Host
① Guests: Accepting, Maybe or Not
② Last Login Time
③ Gender Preference
④ Maximum People to Host
⑤ Furry Friends
⑥ Sleeping Arrangements
⑦ Age and Occupation
⑨ Hanging Out Together
⑩ Precise City Location
⑪ Length of Stay
⑫ Experienced Couchsurfing Host
⑬ New Couchsurfing Host
⑭ Spare Keys
⑮ WiFi Access
3. Backup Plan
4. The Negative Conclusion
Couchsurfing has a restriction of only sending 10 couch requests per 7 days now. You may want to be more selective of a Couchsurfing host especially in cities like Paris where finding a host is so easy. Instead of me looking for a host, my inbox was flooded with both kind and creepy requests to stay with them when I made it public.
I was surprised that many hosts want to host someone in their house especially when they are new to the Couchsurfing community. However, in some cities, you will not see many active hosts around. Then, you would send requests to many of them hoping for a response. BUT, do you read the profiles of the Couchsurfing hosts whom you are interested?
One complaint that I heard regularly from Couchsurfing hosts was that the couch surfers did not bother to read their profiles before submitting a request. Make an effort to read through them carefully so that the Couchsurfing hosts do not think that you are one of them who does not bother to know more about them. Their profile will give you an insight into some of the pointers below.
Tip: Many Couchsurfing hosts have some secret words hidden in between their profile. You have to dig it out and send together with your couch request to show that you have read their profiles thoroughly. Sorry, you won’t know beforehand that the secret code exists until you read the profile.
Here are some tips and questions to ponder when you consider a Couchsurfing host. The title box indicates the location where you can find these pieces of information on the Couchsurfing website.
This section on the centre top will be the first for anyone to look out. Not every Couchsurfing profile is a host. Many are just couchsurfers looking for a place to crash. Skip those who declare “Not Accepting Guest”. The group who states “Maybe Accepting Guests” is more selective of their guests and will be screening more meticulously into your profile before saying yes. They are less enthusiastic to host than the group who announce “Accepting Guests”.
With a limit of only 10 free Couchsurfing introduction message per 7 days, you do not want to waste it on someone who has stopped accepting them, has a low response rate, or long been dead from the Couchsurfing world. There is also a 14-day time frame to write Couchsurfing references for both parties. The system does not allow one to amend the review after submission. Therefore, their last login time and recent reference dates give a clue on their availability.
Next, I will screen this section in MY HOME menu first before reading their profile in ABOUT to assess our compatibility. The Couchsurfing hosts can state their gender preference – Male, Female or Any. Many gay men welcome only male couchsurfers whereas some female hosts prefer to host only women for safety reasons. Know their gender preference before sending over your request blindly.
If you have more than one person, can the house of the Couchsurfing host accommodate more people? Some hosts only want to handle solo traveller whereas some have ample space more to squeeze in altogether. On a side note, some hosts welcome family and children whereas some houses are not safe enough for young children.
Most people would not have a problem with domestic pets. However, people who are allergic to animals’ fur may have a concern if Couchsurfing host has pets at home. They will mostly mention this outright in their profile if they have a cat, a dog or some strange creatures in their house that may freak you out.
As I am usually a solo traveller when using Couchsurfing, this part is what I like paying attention. Couchsurfing host can offer you the following as a selection – Shared Bed, Shared Room, Public Room (eg. Living Room) or Private Room. I would typically look for someone who offers a private room instead of a couch in the living room. As a woman, I feel more comfortable and have a better sense of security in a bedroom by myself. But I am not always lucky in what I secretly desire. Still, I counted myself lucky when someone gave me a shelter over my head. In short, there are lesser Couchsurfing hosts who offer a private room.
Their age and occupation will give you an idea what type of Couchsurfing host whom you will be staying. Is his job something that interests you, or do you have a common interest with the Couchsurfing host? If he is a 20-year old punk whereas you are a 40-year old professional, can you find each other intriguing enough to strike up a conversation?
Is he a party animal like you do and able to bring you to some happening clubs over the weekend? Or, does he say that he wants private time and could not find much time to entertain you except to give you a couch? A common interest will raise the conversation level and make it more meaningful for discussion. If he likes to cook and so do you, exchanging recipe is another fun way to learn from each other.
Some Couchsurfing hosts expect the couch surfers to give them time so they can do things together such as a city tour over the weekend, a dinner or a drink. The hosts may state that clearly in their profile what activities they can offer you. If you do not want to spend time with a Couchsurfing host, then it is better to look for someone else or use Airbnb to have more private moments.
For example, if you want to travel to Paris and the host lives in the suburb of Paris, does it matter to you? It means longer travelling time and higher cost of transportation to enter the city centre. Unfortunately, many Couchsurfing hosts may not always divulge upfront of the actual area where they live. It states “Paris”, but in fact, they reside outside Paris where you have to change train. You can ask first before confirming their acceptance.
Some Couchsurfing hosts may also state upfront on the number of days they can host you. Many of them work during the week, so they prefer to receive guests over the weekend. 2 to 4 days is the most ideal. If you arrive in their city on a weekday during office hours, you may have to wander a few hours outside with your luggage, backpacks and come back with an aching body. On top of that, a miscommunicated meeting time arrangement and missing each other is often a top contributing factor of frustration leading to a bad review.
One great feature of Couchsurfing is the ability to post reviews to encourage or cautious others about a host or couch surfer. When you couch surf with a host who has tons of reviews, sometimes as many as over a hundred, you are writing to someone experienced who can even sniff a freeloader miles away. In order not to be classified wrongly, make more effort to write a reasonably long, smashing Couchsurfing introduction. References may suggest if a host is safe to live with, or just looking for a Couchsurfing hook-up.
I like to choose new Couchsurfing hosts with zero or little reviews as this group of people are the most eager to host and respond yes to my request quickly. Furthermore, they are also more ‘easy going’ due to their lack of experience in the Couchsurfing community. Many have expressed to me that they wish to receive more Couch requests. Sometimes, they feel a little bit lonely. Meeting more people can spice up their life momentarily. Dun trust totally when you read blogs that copy and paste the same advice not to stay with a new host for safety reason. There are more ways to a safe Couchsurfing experience. Everybody has their first time. I am a perfect buddy example of many hosts’ first couchsurfer.
Many Couchsurfing hosts do not give spare keys to their couch surfers for security issue. They would expect their guests to leave the house when they go to work and come back when they are around. That means you may have to leave the house as early as 7 or 8 am and return after 5 or 6 pm. Check with the Couchsurfing host about issuing keys if this arrangement bothers you.
Nowadays most people have WiFi at home. But there are always a minority of people out there who do not have their own as I have come across one before. He used shared public WiFi or discreetly tapped the network from their neighbours. The public WiFi signal usually has a weak connection or down frequently. If you depend heavily on your Couchsurfing host’s WiFi to do travel research or check email, check with them on their internet access.
I have once stayed with an ultra-experienced Couchsurfing host in Paris with 100 over references. He had couchsurfers almost every day. I could imagine sleeping on a couch which more than 100 bodies had laid before. I was pretty sure that the couch cover had not been changed often judging from the rate of acceptance he had in Paris and the cleanliness of his house. Because he had so many experiences in Couchsurfing, he was very particular about how the couchsurfers sent their couch request. He was also quite fussy about their behaviour… …
Guests have to abide by the rules and regulations set by the Couchsurfing hosts since Couchsurfing is free. They can ask you to leave anytime due to whatsoever reason and urgency. As Couchsurfing is not a commitment, as long as a Couchsurfing host is uncomfortable with a couch surfer or has a last-minute emergency, he can ask the person to leave especially when the couch surfer has stayed there for quite some time.
Have a backup plan. If you have selected a host and rejected the rest of them who agree to host you, maintain contact with them by a polite “thank you but I have already found a host” email. If anything goes wrong with the chosen host, you can still contact them to seek for the last-minute refuge instead of depending on one source. Other backup plans include booking Airbnb which is likely to be cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Couchsurfing is so damn addictive if you have beautiful experiences with the hosts that it saddens you to say goodbye each time. Deep in your heart, you know you are likely not going to see each other again after you leave a city. Not because it is free as money is worthless in this sense. Couchsurfing makes us appreciate the host graciousness to receive a stranger into their house. Someone who helps you when you need one. Most importantly, learning to treasure valuable friendship within a short time frame, turning it into everlasting sweet memories.
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