What is the real cost to free travel?
So is Couch Surfing completely free? The short answer would be, Yes.
When it comes to money exchange, there is no money involved. However there is a few things you need to consider. Nothing in life is completely free and there are downsides to Couch Surfing too.
You do not have to pay the company to sign up, you do not have to pay the host. But what is the cost to you?
To you as a Couch Surfer, the main costs and first of all is time. On this platform you need to search, read about the host, their availability and you need to write a cultural request.
On average this process takes 2 - 3 hours. You need to make sure like the person as you are going to be spending some time together. So this process can take some time.
The fact that your host will try to make sure you feel great, does not mean it will be as comfortable as a hotel room.
It is not your home, so you can't do whatever you want. You can't be messy, you can't just mind your own business all the time. Additionally you may not always feel like interacting with the host, but you have to be polite.
Also it may be the case that the bed or couch isn't comfortable enough, and you just need to accept it.
A General Air Of Confidence
This is probably the biggest factor that stops people doing it.
It is not the same as booking a hotel, hostel or apartment. Where you book, pay and have a receipt.
In Couch Surfing you need to contact the host, wait for an answer and if it is a yes you need to arrange a meet up.
Again, because you are not paying things can change quickly. It is not like someone will be waiting for you at a reception desk with a key 24/7. Small accidents can happen leaving you waiting with all your luggage in uncomfortable sometimes locations. Like outside of their house for instance. You may be tired, needing a shower and a nap but you end up being stuck.
On the other hand, you also never know if you will get along with the host until you meet them up. You do need to accept any kind of arrangement and cannot complain much.
So if the fridge or bathroom is not cleaned to your standards, you just have to live with it.
Also it can be the case that you come across some weird people, or creepy people. So that is the main risk that you need to take. You may not get along with everyone.
You will be sharing the living space with the host, so you probably won't get as much privacy as you would like. Also depending on where you are able to sleep, it may limit your privacy.
For example if you get a couch in the living room, it would not feel as private as a bedroom. You probably won't have a lot of time for yourself, as the idea of Couch Surfing is to culturally enrich each other. So you are expected somehow to make it valuable for the host to host you.
Just briefly touched on it in previous paragraph. So to get a bigger and better picture. The host will allow you to use their space, they will make effort to get to know you by reading your request and setting up the meeting.
You will also be using their gas, electricity, some toiletries even. The host most likely will offer you some food, their company. You will be taking their personal space and potentially reducing their privacy.
So you will be expected to leave some value. You should be positive, supportive and inspiring to the host. You may also leave some material value, or all of the above. It is not a free hotel room, you are a guest.
If you are using Couch Surfing you do not own money to anyone. But you need to remember that the host will incur some costs hosting you.
So make sure you are grateful and thankful, and somehow pay back. This could be best achieved by adding value to their life with your presence.
Try to be understanding and supportive. Add some positivity and inspiration to their life. Keep it clean and if you can leave it even cleaner than you found it.
If you do this, you will create a good experience for you and the host.
If you enjoyed reading it, also check out the positives about Couch Surfing which I have covered in this blog post 👇🏻
Hope you enjoyed this article, if you did please share it 😌✌️👇🏻