This is the final part of a five-part series on couchsurfing by Cherie Foo.
We’ve written about what couchsurfing is exactly, about how to craft couchsurfing requests like a pro, about how to stalk your potential host prior to committing to surfing with them, and about meeting up with your host. In the last instalment in this series, we’ll be talking about being a good guest!
The first thing you need to know is that there are many kinds of hosts – some will happily give you a key to use, while some will expect that you leave in the morning at the same time that they have to go to work. Being a good guest means that you should try to, as much as possible, not inconvenience your host and stick to whatever’s easiest for them.
When you first reach or meet them, be sure to ask them about their plans for the next few days, as well as what their schedule is like, so that you can coordinate things easily.
Being open to cultural exchange
Couchsurfers frown upon surfers who are “abusing” the system. Don’t be that guy who treats his/her host’s place as a free place to crash, and has no intention of actually socializing and having some sort of cultural exchange.
Also do note that it’s a huge world out there, and that people whom you meet might say things that you’re not used to hearing. My friend heard variations of “You’re Muslim? But you’re so normal!” a few times, which in all honesty, is somewhat problematic and potentially offensive if you choose to take it that way. However, we believe that this happens not because people have ill-intentions, but because they don’t know any better.
Cleaning up after yourself
When I was in Liverpool, I stayed with a guy who’s hosted over 300 people. I asked him for stories of his most memorable couchsurfers, and he told me about one of his surfers who would leave his underpants on the bathroom floor after he showered, and how annoying that was. You would think that this is an obvious no-no, but I guess there’s no harm in a little reminder – always pick up after yourself, and don’t expect anyone to clean up after you!
Giving back to your hosts
There are many ways in which you can do this, but here’s what I do:
- I bring something from home for my hosts – stuff like instant chicken rice paste/mix is easy to carry on with you and is cost-effective as well, and your hosts will appreciate the thought (doesn’t hurt that Singaporean cuisine is quite well-regarded internationally!)
- When I go to the supermarket to get food for breakfast, I also stock up on groceries for my host – everyone’s dietary habits vary, but easy choices are fresh fruit and pastries.
- On my last night with my host, I typically go out with them and treat them to a nice meal.
Following up after you’re done
After you’re done staying with your host, definitely leave them a reference on Couchsurfing, and if you would like, also drop them a personal note via email/WhatsApp/Facebook message to just thank them again.
Congrats! You’re now fully equipped to embark on your couchsurfing journey. We hope that this series of guides has been useful to you, and that they will help you explore new terrains, making tons of new friends and accumulating amazing memories along the way. Happy couchsurfing!