First of all, I can only share based on my experience so far using Couchsurfing as a tool for budget travel and meet amazing people around the world.
If you haven’t use it or doesn’t know how it works, it’s this:
Basically, you make an account and you can offer your available couch or bed to someone who wants it. And vice versa, when you travel, you can ask people if they have an extra bed where you could sleep for a few days.
One thing I didn’t know about Couchsurfing was that it operated as a non-profit organisation but in 2011 it became for profit business.
You can be verified by paying a fee. This comes with perks of course because people would know you’re real and in most cases, you can pretty much get a host easily. I’m not verified myself but I’m building my profile to have references. You don’t need to get verified just to get a host.
Other features include: making and attending events where you can meet travellers and locals. And you can post your upcoming travels and post your own hangouts.
Other people use it as a dating app and I’m no exception to this. And others use it for business especially travel agencies and bar owners where they meet people and lure them and say “I actually own a bar just 5 minutes from here. We can go there.” Anyway, this is
My Worst Couchsurfing Experience
I’m a budget traveller. And accommodation is one of the three basic costs on travel. Others being transportation and food. So in order for me to lessen the costs, I stay with a friend’s home or contact my Instagram squad or use couchsurfing.
Accommodations in Vienna are way too expensive for a couple of nights when I went there. So I posted my upcoming travel there and one person offered to host me with all his nice introduction. I already got the feeling it was “copy & paste”. I added him on WhatsApp to have more details. (People use WhatsApp as a tool to communicate because the chat room on couchsurfing is terrible.) He even have a brochure about his home and about Vienna which was a great idea! I can totally see how passionate he is about Couchsurfing.
I arrived in Vienna almost midnight that time. The one unexpected thing I learnt about Couchsurfing is that you need to look for their home address just like a hotel. I expected something like them picking me up because that is something I would do too if I was the host. In reality, the host won’t pick you up unless he’s kind enough to do so.
When I got to his home, of course we exchanged pleasantries. I noticed a lot of travel memories on his wall. Actually his wall is full of posters about travel. I even saw couchsurfing stickers, lonely planet books, world map with pins, etc. I was in awe.
after I got settled in, I asked for the WiFi password. There was a moment of silence. He minded and said like how rude and blunt I am to ask that; how he pays it monthly. But prior to my question, I actually read in his bio that he has WiFi. So I didn’t bother asking “do you have WiFi?” Of course, I don’t want him to think I didn’t read his bio and repeat the question with already an answer from his bio. So instead I asked “What’s your WiFi password?” In fact, it was even written on his bio “if you have any questions, please let me know.” He gave the password but I didn’t get in because I didn’t know how to spell it correctly. So I never bothered asking again.
The Next Day…
The next morning, I joined him going to work at 7 fucking am. That’s his house rules which I didn’t know. I woke up at 6:30am. I let him be finished first. I already knew he’s in the shower that time before 6:30. When it was my time, I took my time because I thought he would understand that I want to stay and rest for a while more. I thought that he would be more compassionate knowing he’s a traveller as well. He actually said that his currency is trust. I understand that he cares about safety and avoiding his things to be stolen at his home. But for him to say his currency is trust is a big irony. He doesn’t even trust me when I trusted my life staying at his place!
So when we got off together, he ran off. I tried catching up on him but didn’t make it. There was no goodbyes or see you later thing. He just ran off and never said a thing. It was too cold for me and too early for adventures at 7 freaking am?!
A Night to Remember…
That day, I wanted to go home and rest early. It was just bad vibes the whole day. So I asked him if I could go home. He said I needed to come before 7pm. He wanted to leave for a couchsurfing event. So I asked if I can stay and he said “it’s not an option for me.” So literally trust cannot be found from him and he’s not flexible. I waited at a nearby McDonald’s until he got home at 11pm. It was too cold outside and he didn’t even offer a tea to warm me up. As a host, you need to make your guest feel at home and I didn’t feel that at all from him. This is the reason why I didn’t enjoy my stay in Vienna. It was horrible for me and I just wanted to leave. But that doesn’t mean, I didn’t like Vienna as a city. In fact, It’s the cleanest city I’ve ever been to. Just sad that I had a terrible host.
After a week of not giving a review or reference, I finally had the guts to tell him the truth. After I gave my negative review, I immediately saw his reference to me which he was positive and that he’s willing to host me again. When he read my negative review, he wrote another reference but negative this time.
One key point I learnt from this was not everyone has the same meaning or level of being hospitable. Maybe for this guy, letting someone in was hospitable already but for someone like me, it’s not. Maybe it was my mistake, or if it was, I didn’t mean it. I’ll leave it as still being grateful for having a roof to sleep in and that we all view the world differently.
Couchsurfing is still a great tool to meet wonderful people around the world and you’re going to see part of the world that isn’t made for tourists. Most of my best experiences were with the locals. Be a couchsurfer!