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couchsurfing reviewCouchSurfing is an online network that connects travelers and locals. Originally based on the idea that travelers need a place to sleep and many people have a spare couch, CouchSurfing has long grown beyond just matching broke backpackers with free accommodation. CouchSurfing is a social travel network with active members around the world who offer a lot more than just their couches.

CouchSurfing is all about connecting with people in the real world and sharing time, skills, and resources. Since it’s supported by a system of profiles and references, it is also fairly safe. After being an active member for 5+ years, I have yet to make a negative experience. If you’re not quite sure how you could get started with CouchSurfing without jumping right in and hosting someone or surfing a stranger’s couch, this article should give you some lighter, yet fun ideas.

1. Socialize & Meet New People In Your Hometown

Most cities have their own groups on CouchSurfing. They are a great way to connect with like-minded people, hang out or do activities together, and eventually make new friends. Depending on how active your local CouchSurfing community is, there may be regular gatherings at a local pub, which are open for anyone to join.

You can search for groups under > Community > Find Groups.

couchsurfing review

My search yielded several dozen groups with a few counting several hundred members. The results covered the usual general city group, last minute couch requests, but there were also groups for photographers, vegans, climbing, or the outdoors. Your results may vary, depending on how populated the area you’re searching in is or how popular CouchSurfing is. If you don’t find the kind of group you’re looking for, you can simply create it yourself!

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2. Meet Travelers For A Coffee To Practice Language Skills

Many people are intimidated by the idea of either staying with a stranger or letting a stranger into their home. Well, you don’t have to do either. You can decide not to host or not to couch surf. Instead, you can simply meet people for a walk, to chat, learn about their culture, tell them about your city, share travel and sightseeing advice, and practice a foreign language.

Once you have a profile set up, you can change your couch status and description under > Edit Profile to indicate how you wish to participate in CouchSurfing. Go to the > Couch sub-menu to change its status and description. One of the statuses it offers is > Coffee or a drink.

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Likewise, if you’re looking to meet up with someone, you can search for people with the respective couch status.

3. Organize An Activity & Rediscover Your Own City

Many travelers join groups for cities they are visiting and most newcomers will be in these groups as well. If you love your city and would enjoy to share your favorite spots and tips with others, why not offer a free informal tour, organize a walk, or simply see if anyone wants to join you to go see a movie. You can limit your activity to as many people as you feel comfortable with and make it as long or as short as you want.

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If you are not brave enough to organize something yourself, join an activity shared by someone else. I have seen sunset flights offered where participants only had to cover the cost for gas, invitations for parties, BBQs in the park, visits to the Christmas Market, movie nights etc. CouchSurfing is incredibly diverse and there is always something going on.

Side Effect: (Re-)Gain Trust In People & Humanity

People are genuinely generous and nice. If you don’t believe it, CouchSurfing is the place to be and experience it first hand. This phenomenon is so powerful and fascinating, that CouchSurfing has teamed up with Stanford University’s Institute for Research in Social Sciences to study how trust-based systems work. They intend to use the knowledge to introduce the trust factor into systems that show a lack of it.

We have previously introduced CouchSurfing in this article: Couchsurfing Lets You Find a Place to Stay Over When Travelling Couchsurfing Lets You Find a Place to Stay Over When Travelling Couchsurfing Lets You Find a Place to Stay Over When Travelling Read More

Have you used CouchSurfing before and what have your experiences been like?  Would you consider using something like this?

  1. Little Sister
    August 27, 2011 at 4:17 am

    This is what Social Networking should *truly* be like. CouchSurfing, Meetup, Woodala and other ride-sharing sites...Connecting with people, real people, not profiles or spammy linkbait. And certainly no hitchhikers, unless from another galaxy. ;-)

    While sites like this are obviously very different from Facebook/LinkedIn/etc., it is my hope as a slightly disillusioned member of H. Sapiens "2.0" that this will be the new "killer app" that takes down the impersonal, spam-ridden, anarchic disaster that is FB et. al.

    Could we be on the verge of a 21st-century "Webstock" where friendly hippies exchange emails and indie mp3s (among other things, I'm sure) in hybrid-engine VW buses and slam Google and Microsoft as too "establishment"?

    If so...Epic Groovy. ^_^

    • Tina
      August 27, 2011 at 8:32 am

      Ha! Webstock, that's hilarious! I can just see it... :)

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