Couch-Surfing has become a growing trend for backpackers and travellers on a budget, thanks to a website that connects hosts to travellers. People across the globe are now offering their spare rooms or even couches – hence the name couch-surfing – to travellers exploring their country. Two people sharing their whole lives for an agreed amount of time, usually at no cost sounds fantastic to most nomads.
However, jumping onto the couch-surfing bandwagon should be done with caution. This blog will underline the many pros and cons of choosing to couch-surf on your travels. First to pinpoint some of the advantages:
Live with a local
By staying in a local’s home rather than a hostel or hotel, you will have a completely different experience that money can’t buy. Your host will be able to personally show you their home town’s hidden gems that you would have never found on your own, and tell you traditional and interesting tales from their country’s history. If you want an experience rather than a holiday, staying with a local is the ideal choice.
Create a Cultural Exchange
Staying in this social environment is a great opportunity to create a mutual cultural exchange; don’t forget that your host has invited you for a reason. They will enjoy learning about other backgrounds and cultures, and as much as they enjoy showcasing their city or town they will want to learn too. This experience may even be the foundation for a new lasting friendship.
Sound good? Don’t forget to asses the negative aspects too:
Remember you’re living with a stranger
Bear in mind that essentially, to end up in this position you have found a person online who is willing to let a stranger stay in their home. Meeting people who you’ve only spoke with on the internet always comes with risks and this is no different. While most hosts will be friendly and just enjoy the company of tourists, some may have more sinister motives so be on your guard at all times.
Lack of Privacy
When couch-surfing you’ll be very lucky to get a room to yourself, and even then you’ll be sharing the bathroom, kitchen and lounge with other members of the property. If you’re on the sofa you won’t get a choice in what time you go to bed, or a designated place to get changed and keep your belongings. This can be hard for many people to adjust to! Also you will have to completely respect the home owner’s wishes and follow their rules in regards to noise and getting in and out of the house; this can limit your options and your experience compared to staying in a hotel were you have the opportunity to do what you want when you want.
If you want a social travelling experience but are on a budget, search for travel companions before you set off on your journey. This way you can find friends and share the costs of your trip, without couch-surfing!
Have you had a positive or a negative couch-surfing experience? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.
Have a BSc in Computing and Psychology, a postgraduate degree in Internet Technologies. Outside work, love Oral Storytelling, long distance running and playing Volleyball.