Couchsurfing 101

Hey there! We have been showing you the ways to travel for free and now it’s time to introduce you the most popular accommodation finding programme Couchsurfing!

“Couchsurfing International Inc. operates a hospitality service and social networking service. Its website and mobile apps are platforms for members to arrange homestays, offer lodging and hospitality, join events such as “Couch Crashes”, and, via its “hangout” feature, meet other members.”

This is Natalia from Poland, currently doing EVS in Zagreb. She inspired us with her Couchsurfing experience and now it’s your turn to get inspired!

Where did you hear couchsurfing from?
I found the website in Google when I was searching for cheap travelling ideas.

How did you start using couchsurfing? Were you scared before?

I’ve been using couchsurfing since 2009. I wanted to go somewhere and started to send messages to people. I wasn’t scared at all because I’m a very adventurous person, I like challenges, I love strangers and I like to get out of my comfort zone.

Are you also a host? If so, how do you ensure before you host people in your house?
Yes, I am. Actually I’ve hosted more people in my place than I used it on my own abroad.  Well, we never know if the person is good or bad, and what kind of expectations he/she has towards us. It’s a Russian roulette. However, you can see from this person’s profile and pictures more or less what kind of life they have. And from the reviews they have. If it’s fishy or not. So for me it is easy to evaluate if it’s safe or not.

What do you expect from guests while you are hosting?

I expect from guests to be open about anything, share stories, be respectful and enjoy our time. I expect from them to be respectful to me and to my house, not to use my house like a hotel room. 

What do you expect from hosts?

Actually I don’t expect a lot. I always talk with that person either has time to show me around or not. Would be nice to have meal together, share stories and experiences. Joke around and so on . However, I like to have “my time” in the city that I go and explore on my own. So if the person has time that’s awesome and I appreciate it, if not, it’s absolutely ok because they might have their jobs and plans. I talk about it before I arrive.

What competences/experiences do you usually get from guests? (It can be some skills that they teach such as dancing, playing an instrument etc)

Sharing stories, playing guitar/ukulele, sharing food(tradinional), historical  facts..

In which cities did you use CS?

Hungary, USA, UK, Poland, Slovenia…

Did you face any obstacles so far?

Well, yes. I hosted a young student in my flat and he was very pushy about getting close to me. I told him that I didn’t offer him staying in my flat for this. I gave him a choice very specific way, that if he won’t stop acting like that, he will have no place to stay. Anyway I think it was very nice from me, to let him stay after all. But shit happens, we should be very careful. Some people don’t understand what’s the purpose of this website.

Any interesting experience about CS?

I think every experience is interesting. I like to think that its the best way of learning..experiencing things, places and so. Ive met lots of beautiful, wild , carrying, creative people. Thats its hard to forget about.

What advices can you give to our readers?

Well. Stay positive. Be very open-minded because we are just human beings, we have better and worse days. Don’t be pushy about any kind of situation. Share your stories and laugh a lot! Stay focus on small things because that’s what makes us happy. Don’t forget about communication with people.. talk talk and one more time talk.

Thank you Natalia for sharing your experiences with us! We hope this interview will enlighten our readers’ mind about using Couchsurfing during their travel.

This article is a part of EVS project “Cro – EU – Planet Earth” funded by European Union. Objective of our project is to inform Croatian youth and involve them in various educational, work related, volunteering and traveling opportunities. This event is just one of many to be organized! If you want to be updated on various opportunities Planet Earth has to offer please subscribe to our mailing list by sending us email on urbanamladez@gmail.com with title “Subscribe” and put in your name and surname and year of birth.
 
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