Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why I Stopped CouchSurfing: It is NOT FREE

Having stayed with 15 hosts across the globe and hosted 5 surfers myself, I decided to take a break from Couchsurfing. Why? Because it costs too much I currently couldn't afford it. Yes you hear it right-- Couchsurfing is NOT FREE. As a matter of fact, it cost A LOT! It cost my time, something even money can't buy.

Couch surfing is time costing, but certainly NOT time-wasting.

How it requires our time:
       From the moment you sign up, you have to take the time to fill in your details, as honest as possible, even if you don't really understand yourself either.
       Finding a host is not a easy task. A genuine couchsurfer will take his/her time to read all about the potential hosts' profiles. Well at least they should! Some members are pretty clever for inserting a catch in their profiles: In order for them to consider your couch request, you have to present a keyword hidden in the text in their long profile. Some of them don't even reveal their names up front, but expect you to address them with their names, which you'll have to find out yourself. No one likes to be called "Hey", "Girl", "Miss" or "Stephen" when your name is "Vivian". I know... I received tons of requests like this and I refused all of them without even reading the content. (Note that I did not hide my name, so I expected at least a "Miss Lee").
       Writing a personal request shows that you respect your potential host. Failure to do so only shows that you couldn't care less about who you are staying with. Maybe you are just up for the free stay but not the human connection, which is the most important concept in Couchsurfing.
       Spend time with your host. When I host, I too make sure that I have time to spend with my surfers, showing them some hidden gem of the city, taking them out to my favorite eateries and so on. So, when you are using Couchsurfing, expect that you may not be able to maximize your time in town. You should respect your host by being on time for dinner (if they say so), talk with your host. My host in USA told me some examples of people misusing Couchsurfing... and I could'nt believe those actually happened. I mean going out at 6 am and get home during the ungodly hours of 2am, without even a chance to say hello to your host, these people literally treat their hosts' house as free hostel. This is NOT the spirit of Couchsurfing.
       Your schedule will not be as flexible. Some hosts need you to be out of the house during office hour. So If I will arrive at the city on an overnight bus and I needed my rest, that wouldn't work.
I normally keep in touch with my host/ surfers after the trip and I feel that this is quite fun.

What if you don't spend time as stated above? 

Expect Culture Shock
Well most of these points could be avoided if you spend time reading the host's profile. I'll give 2 real-life examples of culture shock.
1.  I once attended a couchsurfing meet up with my host and met a guy who complained the whole night to me about his host in the language that only we both know. Apparently his host is a nudist and he only came to its realization when he reach the house. I raised my eye brows at his situation, wondering why he didn't know this details before hand. I proceeded to search his host profile on the website and found out that the host clearly stated nudity on the website and explained his expectation for his surfers to follow his house rule (nudity). According to this guy, the host allowed him to leave his clothes on And he still have the guts to complain to me how disgusting his host is. Well without having respect for your host and people's willingness to host you... who is the disgusting one? But of course this is not the most polite thing to say to a distressed person, So I just kept my cool.
2. My host told me this story about a girl who came into her house and complained that her room is dirty. My host tried to offer her a new bedsheets despite those on the bed being new, only to get this rude reply "I have a maid at home." She left soon after and left a terrible review on my host's profile. 1 friendly advice for those with similar attitude: PAY for a HOTEL.

Potential Danger of Couchsurfing
1. Rape
There are some people who use Couchsurfing like tinder. And that is how the word "Couchfucking" is born. A fellow traveler once told me how frustrating she felt when most of the men who offered to host her on "Public Trip" hinted sex.
2. Murder
In Milan over our dinner, my host asked me this: do you know that a cold blooded murder case just happened here in Milan a few weeks before? Just like going into someone's car, you are putting your life into someone else's hands.

So, my advise to all of you who are going to try Couchsurfing for the first time, is: 

Make sure you have the time to go through all the necessary process. 
If not, DON'T DO IT.  
Always, safety first. 

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Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience.
If you have a different opinion, feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!


Misha Johanna said...

I feel you. I used to host and couchsurf a lot, but now I'm starting to get tired of it. In some trip, I just don't really feel like making friends with locals by staying at their place - as it cost me time to get to know them (and of them to get to know me), and somehow it also cost money actually... as it would be much nicer as a guest to at least give some 'gift' in the end of our free stay, hahah!
But I'm happy to have met and known a lot of great friends from Couchsurfing from years back! I'm definitely going to keep in touch with them and they are just friends for life.

Haruki said...

I've never heard of couchsurfing before and this is my first time on your blog. Thanks for the great information. Learned something new today. If you would like to check out my blog. Here's the link. :)