What is couchsurfing and how does it work?

White couch with cushion and blanket

This post is also available in: Español

There are thousands of ways to travel: depending on the company you choose to have, the transportation you prefer to use and what you want to visit. Whatever your trip you will agree that you need to spend the night somewhere and we come to talk about a highly recommended and free way. No kidding, it’s about couchsurfing. What is couchsurfing? Don’t be afraid, we’ll tell you all about this economical way of hosting.

What is couchsurfing?

It’s a way of life, good or travel. The truth is that the word defines to the letter the essence of the phenomenon considering that you literally travel hosting on couches. Yes, it is something like surfing them.

CouchSurfing was the first platform that put in contact a large network of travelers who gave up their homes so that other travelers could sleep in their homes at no cost. Currently for its users it is a social network of contacts and ratings of different homes and visits. In 2013, it had more than 6 million users in more than 100.000 cities.

You’re probably wondering why anyone would host a complete stranger in their home. The amazing thing is that many people around the world are willing to give help with no strings attached. Many stories on this social network talk about the bond you can get by meeting new friends through their humility and generosity, and that’s priceless.

Girl sleeping in a couch

The alternative to CouchSurfing

CouchSurfing, the company that created the concept became paid in 2011. After that change many of its travelers migrated to another platform, which is free called Bewelcome. This platform is totally free!

How to couchsurf if you are the host?

Thanks to couchsurfing, you will be able to meet people from every corner of the world and learn about each of their cultures: the gastronomy of Ecuador or the customs of Peru, for example. We tell you the keys to a successful registration:

  • General information: introduce yourself how old you are, what you do, who you live with, if you have pets, etc.
  • Interests: a traveler will choose you based on the affinity he/she may have with the host. Add the places you want to visit to share adventures.

  • The couch: describe your house and the access that travelers will be able to have to the rooms or services. It is important that they know if they will be able to have shower and breakfast.
  • Availability: inform travelers of the availability of your home as accommodation. If you have a visit, let travelers know that you temporarily have no availability.

Young couple in an ancient home

The more sugar the sweeter. Your profile should show everything you can about yourself to give the maximum confidence to the traveler. Your rating will increase the more travelers stay in your house because it will increase the confidence for the next ones.

In the case of not having your status updated, remember to respond to requests that may arrive to warn travelers that, on this occasion, it will not be possible. If you have availability, but the traveler does not inspire confidence you are not obliged to host him/her. Remember that it is your home and with education everything is possible.

How to couchsurf if you are a traveler?

If you decide to venture to sleep in the homes of local people you will live great experiences. Thanks to this, you will get to know first hand the country you are visiting. In addition, the local person will be able to show you corners of the cities that no conventional tourist knows. Imagine touring the city of Cusco with a local! Don’t miss the recommendations to be a good guest:

  • Try to build trust with hosts through your profile. It’s as simple as filling out as much information as possible in the application so that hosts can get to know you.
  • Be willing to adapt. Every house has its own rules and every family has a different situation. Therefore, you need to be adaptable in every home you visit.
  • Bear in mind that the person giving you shelter is looking for something in return: a new friendship, learning from travel experiences, learning about the culture of other countries, etc.

Don’t think that couchsurfing is your option if you want to find a cheap flight, not pay for accommodation, be totally independent and show up at the accommodation just to sleep. In this case think about looking for a hostel. Don’t take advantage of others!

Aboutbeing just a traveler and not offering your home, in order to give a good impression and not seem a distrustful person to travelers, we recommend that you justify why. Ex. I live with my parents or I currently share an apartment with other people who would not feel comfortable with strangers.

Map and laptop in a desk

Couchsurfing without hosting

I want to meet travelers and offer help but not accommodation, what can I do? You can ‘grab a coffee’. This option is for communicating with travelers and scheduling an appointment, it doesn’t have to be for coffee. You can choose to stroll through the streets of your city, see an exhibition or visit a park – it’s up to you!

But that’s not all, you can also participate in events attended by hundreds of travelers to share their experiences and important tourist information. Join them to live the full experience.

Is couchsurfing safe?

We know that it is not easy to decide to host a stranger or enter anyone’s home. It is important that you read the profiles before applying or accepting housing. Check the recommendations and comments, there are verified members or ambassadors. Be cautious, but always with a positive attitude, there are millions of people using this social network.

The benefits of couchsurfing are innumerable. Meeting people and their particularities is a wonderful experience. Each country has special attractions, so do not hesitate to use couchsurfing, a window to a world full of authenticity. Travel, venture, enjoy, know and above all, live! Have you already tried couchsurfing?


Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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