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CouchSurfing: The cheaper way of being hosted

  -   5. May 2017
Source: Wokandapix/

Couchsurfing: Traveling around the world. Making new experiences. Leaning about new cultures. The feeling of freedom and adventure. For free.

CouchSurfing explained:

A lot of people like traveling around the world. They like to see as many tourist attractions as possible and learn about the culture of the country.

What they do not like about traveling is paying high accommodation fees.

But how can a traveler save money through overnighting somewhere else instead of a hostel or hotel by traveling the world?

  • Couchsurfing was founded in 2004 by Casey Fenton, Daniel Hoffer, Sebastian Le Tuan and Leonardo Bassani da Silveira
  • It is a market on the internet to which a worldwide community belongs to
  • More than 14 million members in more than 200.000 cities
  • The main idea of Couchsurfing is that people share their living space to travelers in their hometown

How it works:

Travelers have to request a certain date and ask if the person, the host, who shares its room is available at that period of time.

Couchsurfing is made to give travelers and hosts the chance to share their experiences, travel-stories and culture.

Due to the fact that travelers get to know their host better, who is usually a citizen of the town of travel, it is easier to learn interesting things from him about the culture, the country and the city in a much different way by experiencing it not just with tourist attractions but by secret and internal recommendations.

Usually the traveler does not have to pay money for staying at the host’s apartment. The question is: why would people offer their homes to strangers without getting money for it? It is easy. They do it because they know how it feels traveling without having much money. They meet new people who might become friends. They want to change and share experiences. They love making pleasure to someone. They are a part of a big community.

Alternative to CouchSurfing: Airbnb.

If you prefer being for yourself, having your privacy and a little bit more comfort, or even breakfast or even a hotel-like accommodation, Airbnb might be the better choice for you.

It is a market on the internet where people can rent for a certain period of time either a shared room, private room, even a whole apartment or house.

The landlords present their objects with certain prices on the website and travelers can choose the perfect one for themselves.

  • Airbnb covers more than 190 countries and 65.000 cities
  • More than three million insertions spread all over the world
  • Airbnb has more than 150 million members

The accommodation fee, including the service fee, is collected by Airbnb as the intermediary right away and will be transferred to the landlord afterwards.

The service fee, which varies between six to twelve percent, is kept by Airbnb, no matter if the accommodation will be used in the end by the customer or not.

Pros and Cons about CouchSurfing

If you are someone who loves being around with people, meeting new people, learn about other cultures, the daily-life of the citizen and the interns and secrets of a city, it might be a good reason for you choosing Couchsurfing for your next trip.

And the best, it is even for free. You might bring your host a small present to express your thankfulness.

But being a Couchsurfer means always being kind and friendly and adapting yourself to your current host. You might also be forced doing something with your host, like exploring the city or cooking together, which might be exhausting to you but also can be interesting to learn about other’s daily life or their culture.

Couchsurfing might be insecure by especially traveling alone because you cannot be sure about your host until you meet him in person.

If you’re lucky and your host is nice and friendly you don’t have to worry and enjoy your stay and meet a lot of people all around the world.

Who wrote it?

Carolin Wolf

Carolin Wolf studies at the European Management School in Mainz.  


Shanice Mack
09-05-2017 21:20

CouchSurfing offers people to look into different lifestyles, cultures and habits of people just because you are interactive in their lives. But for me CouchSurfing, like you also mentioned, has something scary, because you never know who the person is, who offers his or her couch. Through your blog, I started to think differently, because you said, it is a worldwide community, which gave me a little safety, by thinking about doing it with a friend. Furthermore, the blog showed me, that it could be a complete different travel experience, because instead of dealing with tourists, you have a citizen by your side, who includes you in his/her life. Also, the kindness, which is behind this strategy, improved my opinion, because I didn't know, that is doesn't cost any money. Moreover, I haven't been in an Airbnb, but through the tons of information your blog offers, and which simple advantages and differences it has to a normal hotel, I really think about trying it.

Annika Amann
09-05-2017 12:05

To be honest: Travelling around the world – making experiences – learning new cultures – and this all for free: Sounds a bit like an unrealistic advertising we all hear and see daily in the media. But the good news is: Couchsurfing really seems to make it possible! Especially young people dealing with having itchy feet and having the desire to travel the world. However, there is one big problem: Travelling in general is a very expensive thing. And young people mostly don’t have much money. Therefore, Couch Surfing is a great alternative for open-minded people who are looking for new experiences and adventures. “Surfing on couches” offers unique opportunities to look behind the surface and to learn about new cultures. However, the other side of the coin like you mentioned above is that Couchsurfing sometimes also bears some risks. It is for sure not the safest way to travel – especially when travelling alone. It could happen that they suddenly change their minds to offer you a place to stay for the night - so out of the blue you don’t have a roof over your head. However, keeping potential risks in mind - CouchSurfing is a great way to host people and to travel for little money. I think sometimes it’s inevitable to have some trust and faith in humankind.

Tabea Arnold
09-05-2017 05:01

Couchsurfing is a really interesting concept. You get to know cultures from a different perspective than you would by staying at a hotel. It can be weird and potentially dangerous staying at an unknown place with an unknown person in an unknown city. Due to this, I believe that the company should start doing thorough background checks as this may reduce the risk of sexual abuse or other physical harm. Besides, more people would use it as this is a big issue and topic when “couch-surfing”. Compared to Airbnb I think Couchsurfing is a reasonable and good alternative. Especially for travelers who want to explore and experience a culture and country from the viewpoint of a native. This does not only apply to the travelers, but it is also a great experience for the hosts to get to now many different foreign cultures. Nowadays it is essential and important to know the basics about diverse cultures. Not only for business live but also for general knowledge. Couchsurfing also offers alternative parties and meetings which is quite interesting for the users as they get to know people from all over the world and can connect with them.

Lea Rottmann
08-05-2017 00:53

I believe CouchSurfing to be a great way to interact with new people on a whole other level. After all, you don’t just rent an apartment that’s private and separated from the host, you live in their home and to some extent really take part in their life. For frequent travellers, like backpackers or musicians CouchSurfing is a very convenient and cheap way to be accommodated in foreign places. Furthermore, a traveller really gets to know the host, their culture and lifestyle. Even though I think it is a great concept and shows how many people all over the world are willing to share their life with others, I must say the thought of staying with absolute strangers in their home can be strange. I would then prefer using the services of Airbnb. There you have your own room or apartment and still get to know the host and culture.

Moritz Wellershaus
05-05-2017 12:08

CouchSurfing, to me, is a very amusing and convenient opportunity of travelling through the world. It is the best way of getting to know the culture based on a real example living in that country. It also is a great possibility to make friends and exchange experiences, stories and cultural wisdom. Being part of the couchsurfing community means not only making a pleasure to other travellers in sharing your home for no money, it also means to get a free place to stay when being on tour and travelling into knew countries. That’s the best thing about couchsurfing, money is not necessary for accommodation. Because the community spreads over the whole world, it’s a great opportunity to open up towards new people from everywhere and make new experiences. Of course, you have to be careful of respecting the cultural aspects of the host, so you have to be adaptable. It is also possible to have some bad luck and get an unfriendly or inflexible host, but normally most people, that offer couchsurfers a place to sleep or are couchsurfers on their way through, are very uncomplicated, accommodating, open-minded and respectful. They share the same interest: learning about the other culture and meeting new people. I am truly considering making my next travel a couchsurfing experience and if I like it, what I’m sure of, I will continue with offering my home to and surfing couches when I travel.

Mona Anthes
05-05-2017 11:35

I really like the idea of the shared-economy and hence Couch Surfing or Airbnb. I think it is a very nice way to stay and explore a destination. I have been using Airbnb a lot of times and I always had a positive experience. I am also registered for Couch Surfing but to be honest as you also mentioned I am a little scared to use it since it is always insecure with whom you end up. When traveling alone though I think it is a great way to get to know people and to explore the city with some insider tips but you have to be a special kind of person. Open minded and adaptable. This is, in my opinion, the general problem of the shared economy. There is always a certain uncertainty.

Julia Herrhammer
05-05-2017 11:23

Hey Caro! To all the backpackers, travelers and tourists CouchSurfing is a great solution due to the fact that they save so much money. However, as you have already mentioned it might be also kind of dangerous especially when traveling alone. I have read some cases when people were robbed or sexual harassed by the host. Nevertheless, this does not has to be a characteristic of it for instance there are a lot of hosts which are nice, friendly and welcoming. It is also a perfect alternative for a spontaneous change of destinations or when traveling in high season and what do backpackers need more than a comfortable couch to relax on after an exhausting exploration of the city?



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