Disclaimer: I am following the philosophy of Couchsurfing as it is taught in the Values of the website, namely to share my life with strangers, create connection, offer kindness to others. My interpretation of these values is connecting and sharing my culture with strangers and learning from them about theirs. For me it is also about being open-minded. If you think the same this article is for you, filled with tips about how to write Couchsurfing requests and find hosts that think the same as you.
We are all individuals free to use Couchsurfing in whatever capacity we see fit and I do not judge anyone who interprets the Couchsurfing values differently. But please not this: If you use Couchsurfing for whatever other reason (e.g. finding a free place to sleep) the below tips might not apply to you. I encourage you to decide for yourself if you want to follow or disregard my suggestions, because I am not trying to convert anyone (Couchsurfing is not a religion) just to give guidance to those who seek it.
I can’t say it often enough: For me Couchsurfing is all about trust, sharing experiences and cultural exchange; Couchsurfing is not about finding a place to sleep for free.
If you were wondering, why no one answers to your requests, then you might be doing something wrong when writing your requests to potential hosts. This post is going to teach you how to write requests that will make anyone want to invite you to their home and get to know you even more.
In case you are just starting out and you want to learn more about Couchsurfing before wondering about how to send a proper request to a potential host, read on here about what Couchsurfing is and how it works.
If possible, upload a picture where your face is clearly visible. The potential host needs to trust you in order to accept you and this trust is easily built by having a friendly looking profile picture.
Write about yourself, what makes you special, what are your hobbies and interests and everything else that makes you special and interesting. After you have written your request the potential host will probably check your profile to find out more about you. They might reject you if you didn’t put in the effort of writing full sentences and putting yourself out there.
By reading a person’s profile you will get a feel for that person. Only write requests to people who interest you. People you think you could connect with and have a good time with.
Read about their interests and see if you have anything in common. If you don’t have anything in common, it might be hard to find something to talk about when you actually stay with them so it would help to have some common interests. Most Couchsurfers have traveled in common, so if you can’t find anything else you can always fall back on that.
Before sending a request check how they live and if you would be comfortable with the arrangement. Will you share a room? Is there only space to sleep on the floor? Do they have children or pets or are heavy smokers?
Some people prefer women, others can only host one person maximum or are only available on certain days in the week.
Address the host personally using their name. This is the absolute minimum that anyone would expect from a request, I believe.
Of course, you should write about yourself and your plans. Tell them briefly about yourself when and why you will visit and who you travel with. It is helpful if the person you are traveling with also has a fully filled CS profile so your potential host can not only look up you but also the people you travel with. Remember it is all about trust.
The most important part is writing about them. Show them that you read their profile, what kind of interests you share and most importantly what you can do for them. They are inviting you to their home for free, always answer the question what is in it for them and why you have chosen to send them a request.
I would never write that I am on a tight budget and a free stay would really help me out. Even if this is one of the reasons you want to surf it might just send the wrong signal. Of course, I can understand if you do want to mention it, to be honest, but then I would really think about how to phrase it so you won't just be perceived as a freeloader.
If you send a request outside of the host's preferences acknowledge that you have read their preferences and explain why you sent a message anyways. Some people only have time on weekends, would prefer female guests or can only accept one guest at a time.
Below I have put two request examples I have received that I thought were nice. Let me highlight the points I have made above, for your reference and better understanding.
These are some worst-case examples. This is exactly what you shouldn’t do when requesting a stay with Couchsurfing.
When I get sent an impersonal short message where they didn’t bother to use my name, didn’t bother to read my profile and didn’t even tell me about themselves I always do just one thing: I press the reject button and that’s it. I don’t even bother with a written answer most of the time.
I don’t know how other people feel about it, but I generally also ignore messages that just say something like: “Hi, how are you?”
Even if you write the perfect request sometimes you get nothing but silence or rejections. In that case, it might not be the request that is bad. It could be your profile or profile picture or in many cases, it has nothing to do with you personally.
No one likes to be rejected and sometimes it hurts and you want to know the reason. I get that feeling. For those people I have some last thoughts:
If someone declines your request don’t bother them by asking why they won’t host you. In most cases, this will only make the other person feel uncomfortable. There might be personal reasons they don’t want to share with you. It is usually best to just thank them for their reply and move on.
In many cases, you won’t get a reply at all. I recommend you just move on. When sending requests set your expectations low, meaning, don’t expect to get an answer so you won’t be disappointed.
Let’s assume your request gets accepted and you are preparing for your first stay. There are a couple of things you should know before your first stay. I have put together a list on how to be a Couchsurfing guest with good manners, and if you want to know what to expect on your first stay check out my first experience as a Couchsurfing guest.
If you are still unsure about what to write just drop me a mail at email@example.com and I will do my best to give you some feedback and other ideas. So don’t hesitate to contact me.
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.
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