When using Couchsurfing (or any other hospitality exchange) as a guest where the stay itself is without monetary compensation, you should consider bringing (or creating) a little thank you for your host, to show them that you appreciate them.
This doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive, in my mind it is the thought that counts most of all and you can show your gratitude in different ways.
If you don't really know what Couchsurfing is and how it works you might want to check this post first before reading on.
Here are some gift ideas for your Couchsurfing host.
The most obvious gift idea is probably to prepare something that is typical in your own country. When I stayed with a host family in Japan I brought a German beer mug as a thank you. If you don't want to bring something big and heavy, especially if you are planning to stay with many hosts, it could also be some snacks from your country. In the case of Germany I am thinking of something like Haribo gummies or Kinder Chocolate. From Japan I would bring something with green tea taste. I am sure you can think of something.
By the way, to get ideas about what to bring you could either look at the profile of your host and find out what they might be interested in. Another more straight forward idea is asking them if they would like to get anything from your country. Some hosts might have visited your country before and they liked some special sweet that you could bring them.
You could also make something yourself to show your gratitude. One guest I know brought cute bookmarks made with pressed flowers and personalized with the name of the host. So if you are crafty, a gift like this with a personal touch can definitely be an option. (If you are not skilled yourself it is totally alright to ask your mom or friend or anyone else for help)
If you are a traveler and go from one couch to the next, then it doesn’t really make much sense to bring a whole bunch of gifts from home. You could just pick up something nice when going from country to country. It has the added advantage that you can do souvenir shopping everywhere and choose something nice, but you don’t have to carry it around with you, because you will give it away again at the next stop. These kinds of gifts can also be a great conversation starter, talking about where you have been and the story about where you found the gift.
A gift doesn't have to be a physical thing that takes up space in your suitcase. If you have the time (and skill) it might be a nice idea to prepare some dinner from home. When I stayed with a friend in Iceland I made a Bavarian breakfast with white sausage and beer for the whole family. This way we did not only share a meal, we also shared some traditions and culture through food.
You can also cook together and show each other how to prepare dishes from each other’s countries.
While we are at the topic of food, if you are a lousy cook, or you feel there is just nothing interesting your countries’ cuisine has to offer, you can take the easier route and just invite your host to eat out. They might have a good idea where to go to have an authentic food experience, and you can offer to pay for the meal. Everyone is happy and you got to experience some real authentic food together with someone who know how to eat more exotic dishes in the right way.
Did you know that there are actually a lot of different rules to eating sushi? No? Well, a Japanese host you go have sushi with could explain all about how to dip your sushi into the soy sauce correctly.
In case a dinner breaks your budget how about some drinks. You don’t have to pay all of the drinks, but if you bought one round of drinks this could be an easy way to show that you appreciate your host. Also going for some casual drinks with your host and maybe some of their friends is a great way to meet people and learn about the drinking culture of a place.
Also, as soon as everyone has a bit of alcohol in them it gets so much easier to talk in a non-native language, am I right.
From my first Couchsurfing experience as a host my guests, a couple from Tasmania, I got two post cards from their home with messages of thanks. These now have a special place on my book shelf.
My second guests, two friends from Czech Republic, brought me some classical music from their home, because they had done some research and found out that Japanese people liked classical music. A very thoughtful and nice gift.
What kind of gifts have you received or given so far? What is the favorite one you have ever received and why? Share with us in the comments below.
If you are new to Couchsurfing I have something for your. A FREE Couchsurfing Check-List with the most important things you should do when signing up, when hosting, and when surfing so you will have the best possible experience with Couchsurfing.
Sign-up to my mailing list using the sign-up form below and you will have your Couchsurfing Check-List delivered to your mailbox right away, along with other valuable free content you might need on your next trip.