Some people might say the things I describe in this post are common sense and just good upbringing. But we still sometimes forget about some things that should be common sense. So, no matter if it is your first time being a Couchsurfing guest or your 100th time I recommend you go through my list of tips on how to behave as a Couchsurfing guests now, and again before your next stay. Just to make sure to leave the best impression possible and maybe even to build a long and lasting friendship.
If it is in fact your first time Couchsurfing and you are wondering what you are getting yourself into I have put together a post of my first Couchsurfing experience as a guest. And if you are interested in knowing about the other features of Couchsurfing check out this post.
A good Couchsurfing guest shows that they have understood the spirit of Couchsurfing when they first contact a potential host. Couchsurfing is all about community and sharing interests and passions and not just a site where you will find a free place to sleep. Your request should reflect that. Read your potential hosts’ profile and if you think you “click” on a personal level, because of interests you have in common or knowledge you could exchange write a request that will show your potential host what’s in it for them.
Once you have been accepted by a host, be open and communicate with them. Ask about their plans and preferences as soon as possible and make a rough plan for your stay, so they will know what to expect. This includes the time and place you are going to meet, and rough plans during your stay, to avoid unpleasant surprises. If you are for example planning on staying at their place for a day because you have to do some work, but they expect you to go out and want the place for themselves it could get uncomfortable. So communicate your plans in advance.
In my opinion, nothing leaves a worse first impression than being late. I know planes and trains can be late and accidents happen but as soon as you know you will probably not make it on time contact your host and let them know. Don’t only tell them that you will be late, but also how late you expect to be and keep them updated as you get new information.
I as a host don’t mind offering something to drink and some snacks. It is something I enjoy about being a host. But other hosts might think of it as a bother and an unnecessary expense on their part, so make sure to bring your own drinks and food if you are planning on eating at your host’s place.
As with the food and drink, I mentioned above bring anything else you might need during your stay. This includes towels, shampoo, conditioner and body soap. Your host might offer you to use theirs and that is totally fine, but in case they don’t make sure you have a small bottle of your own things with you.
I have to admit that I am not making my bed in my own apartment. And that is fine because it is my own space and my own choice. When you are a guest be polite and make your bed in the morning after you get up. If you are sleeping on a sofa or the floor or anywhere that isn’t a bed this is even more important because your blanket and pillow will be in the way of daily life. Just remember, you are not in a hotel, so don’t expect your host to make your bed for you.
The same goes for cleanliness. Don’t take your things out of your suitcase and leave them everywhere in the house or apartment you are staying in. They might get in the way so after you used anything to make sure to put it back into your suitcase. As an added benefit keeping your things together will make it easier for you not to forget anything when you leave.
This includes their electricity. I always travel with a lot of electronics that need charging and I can’t imagine anyone forbidding you to charge them, but be polite and ask which socket you can use. If you are like me and you have many devices it might make sense to invest in a multi USB plug, so you can charge all devices at once from the same socket.
Since coming to Japan I realized that different cultures and different people in these cultures have different standards when it comes to bodily cleanliness. Many Japanese, for example, shower every day or even twice a day. In Europe, this is not necessarily the case. Here many people shower only every other day.
Depending on where you visit water can be very expensive so the polite thing to do is following your hosts. If they shower every day you can do it, too.
In any case, keep your showers as short as possible and don’t waste water.
Some Couchsurfing hosts have a lot of rules; others have none at all. Make sure to ask in advance what the rules are and follow them. If you don’t want to follow a host’s rules don’t stay with them. Better look for a different host and you will be much happier with the result.
When sharing a place communication is always key. On the first night communicate your plans to the host. This is a good opportunity to ask for recommendations but it is even more important to tell them what time you are planning to leave and when you will come back. Your host might have plans of their own and in many cases, you can’t stay at your host’s place while they are gone, so they will ask you to leave together. Be flexible and respect your host’s wishes. And don’t be late. There is nothing worse than if they want to leave the house at 8 because of work, and they have to wait because you aren’t finished on time.
Couchsurfing is about sharing experiences so you could also make plans to meet up with your host or spend the day with them. They might be able to show you around.
If you do anything together with your host always offer to pay halves. No matter if it is for gasoline if they are so kind to drive you around or for cooking ingredients if you cook together.
You don’t have to bring a physical gift. Some people host so much that they have many trinkets and nowhere to put them, so they will just throw them away after a while.
There are other ways to show your appreciation. You could for example bring something to eat or drink together. Or you can invite them to dinner or some drinks. I am sure they will appreciate it. I have put together a list of gift ideas for your Couchsurfing host.
Do you have experiences as a host? What other things do you think are important to be a well-received guest.
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Lena is the creator of the Social Travel Experiment. Planning her trip around the world took a lot of effort. To make it easier for future world travelers she has made it her mission to teach others how to have an unforgettable trip around the world, through short stays with locals, without wasting valuable time or money.