Couchsurfing is undoubtedly one of the best things to happen for budget travellers. A huge database of hosts, offering out their homes for free accommodation in hundreds (if not thousands) of locations across the globe.
As a host in the capital city of Scotland, I’m inundated with requests to stay in my cosy little city centre abode, complete with a private room for many the weary traveller. So what makes me say ‘yes’ to you, over the 10 other requests that weekend? This little guide should clear a few things up
Read your potential host’s profile
Find out about your host before you make a request to them. Make sure you check;
- Are they hosting at the moment?
- Do they accept males/females/more than one person?
- Do you have anything in common with them that might help make your ‘sell’?
- Are they asking for any information?
The last one is a new, tricky one. A lot of us now add a little ‘tell me this’ note at the end of our profile, to see which people have actually read it.
Make it personal
This is BY FAR the most important part of your pitch for me. If you send me a rubbish ‘copy and paste’ generic message, chances are, I won’t want you in my house.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are a good few hosts out there that are just playing the good Samaritan card, lending their homes to last minute souls in need. However, a lot of us are looking to meet people (and possibly build connections). I have hosted a last minute, desperate guest, but only because the message they sent me stood out. Below I’ve included two real requests that were sent to me. One I accepted, one gave me a lot of information, but made me feel like a disposable travel lodge…
“hi! I’m A Cuban Overseas. I’m a 20 year old (pretty sure I’m 35 mentally) that was born in Cuba and then moved to Miami and now is going to Edinburgh. I saw you struggled a bit in Cuba with dairy and I can totally understand that. I’d love to listen to your Cuba travel stories! I’m so glad you visited my little island and I hope you liked it. I’m from the Varadero area, did you go there? Anyways, I used to be vegan for a bit and I loved it. I try now to eat as healthy as possible and slowly taking meat out of my diet whenever I can, so I’d love to stay with you so we can cook some nice yummy vegetarian dishes together! I also checked out your blog and it’s so nice! I’m glad a resource like that exists. (asks for dates)
“I am *name* and *name* will be travelling with me. We recently moved to *place*, England. In the midst of all the chaos that comes from moving, we decided we needed a weekend get away. Edinburgh is what we decided and we don’t think we will regret it. Unless… we have to pay for a last minute hotel! We are a young couple who loves to explore and meet people. We would be great surfers to have because we are outgoing, fun, neat, and respectful. We will be driving by car so the trip for us will be about 7 hours, with a possibility of stopping to check out The Gray Mares Tail. We won’t be able to leave until after I get off work at about 3 or 4. If you need any additional information please don’t hesitate to ask.”
Host references over paid verification
A few people have asked me if I declined to host them because they weren’t ‘verified’. Verification on Couch surfers is when you pay them a fee to match you up with your Pay pal, ID, etc, to prove who you are. It confirms your identity, and is designed to put a host’s mind at ease.
Now i’ll not complain if it’s there, but this really isn’t the first thing I look at as a host. I’m way more interested in whether the request comes from someone who has any previous positive references (whether it be hosting or surfing). A human reference means much more to me than a confirmed bank card.
Your host is not a hook up
This is not dating site. I repeat, NOT A DATING SITE. I know a lot of people are trying this tactic, I urge you not to. It gives the platform a bad rep, and makes people more hesitant about hosting certain groups. For example, I’m now reluctant to host solo men/pairs of men, due to messages I have received from individuals. Don’t spoil it for everyone!!
I’d love to hear if these tips work for anyone? Have you got any other tips that, as a host, you also look for?