Couchsurfing offers the best vacation home rentals for connecting with local communities. Connect with friends you haven’t met yet all over the globe. Your accommodations are free, but your memories are priceless.
- 400,000 Couches Available
- It’s 100% Free!
- Stay in 193 Countries
Couchsurfing is a service that connects members to a global community of travelers. Use Couchsurfing to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travelers. You have friends all over the world, you just haven’t met them yet. Open your mind, open your home, open the world with Couchsurfing.
Couchsurfing isn’t just a website in truth it’s a community. More than 200,000 cities have home share spaces available. The Couchsurfing platform connects on the whole over 14 million members. The unique vision of Couchsurfing emanates from hosts, in essence, being links to the local community. Travelers aren’t booking places purely based on a particularly high-resolution photograph. Guests are simultaneously looking for unique experiences and connections with other human beings around the globe.
New members become registered as ‘maybe accepting guests’ by default. This is done in hope that surfers will return the favor and also become a host. Couchsurfing has created over 6 million human to human home shares. Hosts are able to offer private rooms, public rooms, shared rooms as well as shared beds.
Oh, the most important part about Couchsurfing, it’s free! Monetization of the website appears to be happening in two ways. Firstly it is creating income via advertisements. Secondly, it creates revenue based on Couchsurfers paying an optional $60 fee to have their identity confirmed. This site operates on trust. The altruistic personalities attracted to this community have found it to be life-changing.
Free place to sleep
Personalized connection to a community
Meet new friends around the world
Safety is a major concern
Response time from hosts is slow
Quality of properties is not on par with paid locations
Founders: Casey Fenton, Daniel Hoffer, Sebastien Le Tuan, Leonardo Bassani da Silveira
Countries in: 193
Headquarters: San Francisco, California
Number of Employees: estimating under 30
Search functionality on Couchsurfing is unlike any other platform. Search results reveal the full names of hosts and travelers before any agreement is reached. You can filter hosts by age, gender, language spoken and interests. Notably, you can filter by hosts that have kids living at home. The room offerings are a bit shocking to a new user. The website gives an example of a public room as potentially a living room. Sleeping arrangements of a shared room and shared bed have no examples given. Host write an explanation of what the sleeping arrangements mean in their own words.
The website boasts over 14 million users. Surfers should leave hosts a reference after their stay has concluded. References are what builds the trust community. You are only given two options for references: Would Stay Again or Would Not Stay Again. Additionally, a narrative description of your experience with the host is expected. Searching for hosts that are verified or have previous references show much faster booking request response times than a typical user.
Couchsurfing is surprisingly the oldest home sharing platform we could find. They recently became a certified B corporation. A certified B corporation balances purpose and profit. Certified companies have a legal responsibility to consider their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Less than 3,000 companies have put ethics above profits by becoming certified.
Hospitality on Couchsurfing is free. A host should never ask a guest to pay for their lodging, and a guest should not offer. They do recommend that a guest show their appreciation by cooking a meal, taking the host out, bringing a small gift or offering some other gesture.
Just because money isn’t being exchanged in fact doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost. One Couchsurfer described it as, “free of charge, unless you count being incessantly sociable as payment.” Numerous reviews basically said socializing with their counterpart was forced and lacked genuine interest. Removing money from the equation leaves you with a voluntary exchange that may or may not have value for the host. As a guest, it is advisable to seek out hosts with clear motivations for hosting. Most hosts are simply seeking to expand friendship circles globally.
Host Income and Fees
Hosts should only offer what they are to offer freely and say what those things are clearly in the Couch Information in their profile. If there are some things that can’t be offered unless the Courchsurfers agree to share the cost, this should be discussed between the host and the surfer (and should never be a requirement for hosting).
The real value of hosting above all comes from connection. Real life experience is a point often overlooked by our technology-obsessed culture. Inviting a stranger into your home is undoubtedly against social norms. Although, it is important to realize collaborations can never be created without vulnerability. Couchsurfers pay in gratitude and acceptance.
Couchsurfing has created the largest free based travel community. At its core, Couchsurfing is more like a social platform than a vacation home rental platform. Users are prompted to write about what they can teach and share with the host community. The ideal Couchsurfing experience is described as deja surfing. A deja surf is when a host travels to the home of a surfer that previously stayed on their couch. The relationships on Couchsurfing are intended to be mutually beneficial.
While the typical Couchsurfer is a group of 2 or solo traveler, the site does allow searches for groups up to 15 travelers. A clear theme of safety is woven into nearly every page of the website. Numerous news stories and blogs discuss instances of women raped by their Couchsurfing host. The company deletes profiles of hosts upon reports of sexual misconduct. The concept of no money changing hands is very idealistic. In traditional vacation rentals, there is a clear motive of why the host is opening their home. On Couchsurfing, no such clear motive exists. Use caution and careful screening to protect yourself.
Users of Couchsurfing believe people are basically good. In this day in age, it is hard to strike a balance between connecting and protecting yourself. Involving millions of people in any idea is bound to attract some psychopaths. But we have a hard time referring to a platform that has even a small potential to end in violence against women.
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