Couchsurfing is the cheapest and richest way to travel the world. It allows you to stay at a local’s house while traveling, host other travelers at your home or to meet other travelers in your area. In this article we explain what is couchsurfing and how really does couchsurfing work.

What we cover:

There is a big misconception and ignorance about the couchsurfing community. It is not a ‘free room’ website, neither a dating website. In fact if you have that idea we strongly recommend you to read this post or choose another website/service. 

What is Couchsurfing?

Couchsurfing is an online platform (Website + App), born in 2003, which provides a hospitality service and a social networking community. The community is all around the concept of travelers staying with local host free of charge. However it is much more than that!

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There is 3 ways to be on the community: surfing, hosting or attending to the social events. Every person in the community has a profile (you can see Matilde’s profile here). Everyone you interact with, within the community, is encouraged to write a review about you. This is valuable information for future hosts/surfers.

Couchsurfing moves yearly +4 million surfers through 400,000 hosts and 100,000 social events around the world.

Couchsurfing is part of the gift culture where you don’t pay in cash for your accomodation, however remember someone is opening doors to a complete stranger… It’s expected that the surfer gives something in return.

Most of the times interaction, respect and sharing cool experiences will be more valuable than any money. Anyway cooking a meal and doing some cleaning is always welcomed (at least this is how we show our gratitude).

Why you should use Couchsurfing?

Couchsurfing is definitely not for everyone. It depends on your style of traveling and on what you chase in a trip. If you are looking for comfort and relaxing without thinking in anything else than you, it might not be the best solution. If you are ok with sharing your space and your time with a complete stranger than you should do it! That complete stranger can become a good friend! Also, staying in a local’s place allows you to dive deep in a local’s life and learn things about their culture that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.


It is the cheapest and richest way to travel because there is no money involved and it gives you benefits like:
– Learning local culture, food and language from a local.
– Making friends from all over the world – The interaction host-surfer is strong and often leads to deeper relationships carried home for long-time.
– Visiting the best places and getting to know the ones to avoid – A good host provides a deep understanding of the place you are visiting, such as the best places to eat and visit, the scams you should avoid and the hidden spots you can’t lose.

Related: A week with an indian family in Haryana, India

Is Couchsurfing free?

Yes! Joining the Couchsurfing community is free and open to everyone, however it is always welcomed something in return (not money). Once again, most of the times, interaction is the best offer. A cooked meal or a small gift are also ideas. The paid version, also known as ‘Getting Verified‘ gives you benefits like:

– Increased Trust – Verification proves your honesty with the community. Hosts/Surfers often look for verified accounts for security on both sides.

– Unlimited Messaging – Possibility to send unlimited requests to different hosts

– 24/7 Support – Couchsurfing’s Safety and Trust team is available 24/7.

You can get free extension on your verification by hosting surfers. If you are interested in the community we recommend you start with the free version and perhaps later upgrade it!

Is Couchsurfing safe?

Despite the couchsurfing horror stories you can find online (like in everything in life), Couchsurfing is super safe but you must follow some basic rules, like making sure your host’s and your profiles are complete and with some trustworthy reviews, making sure the profile connect (languages, interests, skills), etc. Beeing couchsurfing a review-based system, it becomes safe to both sides, because you know any misbehaviour SHOULD result in a bad review and it can end your Couchsurfing experiences forever!

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In the end…

Couchsurfing is a very rich community full of great people and stories! If you are open and flexible enough it allows you to have amazing experiences, unforgettable moments and make friends forever. We can’t recommend Couchsurfing enough, we love it and we won’t stop using it anytime soon. We used it several times and we don’t have anything else than good memories.

Start creating yours today!! 🙂

If you would like to see our first couchsurfing experience in an underdeveloped country (India) click in this link!

With love,
Matilde and Miguel ♡

Plan your next trip!

These are some of the tools we use. By using these links, you pay the same (or less) and we get a small comission. This way you help us keeping TravelB4Settle alive! Thank you :).

  • Travel safe with Iati – our favorite travel insurance. Best prices on the market, especially made for travelers, flexible plans and high medical coverages. Get a 5% discount!
  • Book your flights with Skyscanner for the best prices or with for flexible trips.
  • Stay in a furnitured apartment you like, with AirBnb (30€ discount in your first booking!), or with for any other tipe of accommodation!
  • Rent a car with Rentalcars, comparing cars and prices before your trip!
  • Get money back in more than 120.000 online and offline shops with CashbackWorld. Read our full guide here.

More tools, courses and gear we recommend in our Resources Page.

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