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Pros and Cons of Couch Surfing

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

A women couchSurfing in the Bay Area

There are so many ways to see the world, and a huge part of that comes from figuring out a place to stay. One affordable and unique accommodation experience is couch surfing, which is when people offer their couch or space within their home for guests who want to stay in the desired location. Let's explore the upsides and downsides to this traveling alternative.

Though couch surfing has many pros, there are a few cons to consider first:

1) Safety

With any sort of traveling, your safety is always something that you should be cognizant of. Choosing a place to stay can seem stressful especially when you don’t know your host too well. Because couch surfing can be a more intimate form of accommodation, it’s important to set boundaries and always be aware of the situations you are in. There have been many stories of male hosts making uncomfortable advances on their female travelers, like this past story of one Globesister: “I had a male host and experienced a very uncomfortable stay. He was flirty even and when I woke up he was in my bed.”

Though this is not every female traveler's experience, it is always important to prioritize your safety and look out for yourself at all times. GlobeSisters details a list of essential safety tips for solo traveling, as well as how safe alternatives like hostels are.

2) It can be stressful for both travelers and hosts to communicate

Communication between hosts and travelers can sometimes be difficult, but responding to each other is essential for setting up an arrangement like couch surfing. On some occasions, hosts become unavailable and unresponsive when you’ve just arrived or cancel last minute, leaving you with nowhere to stay. Since we know this is every traveler’s worst nightmare, GlobeSisters offers a reliable back-up if your host becomes unavailable to house you on a trip. In addition to our homestays, we also partner with safe and affordable hostels and hotels so that no traveler is ever left without a place to stay.

3) Searching for a host can be time-consuming

Looking for the right place to stay can be stressful and time-consuming, especially when grappling with the idea of staying in a stranger's home. It’s always best to contact your host well before your trip to get a few back-and-forth conversations and also make sure that your host has enough time to prepare their home for you.

4) Sleeping conditions will vary depending on where you choose to stay

Like with any homestay, everyone is different! Some hosts might exceed your expectations and some might not. Couch surfing requires you to be flexible and open-minded. GlobeSisters' features allow you to see the actual places you can choose to stay in, the amenities offered, and the rules that your host is most comfortable with when accepting a visitor.

Couch surfing also has many positive opportunities during your travels that could enhance your trip in unimaginable ways.

1) Being immersed in the culture

Staying with someone that is local to the area is a great way to get to know the people, food, and culture of the place you’re staying in. Having your host give you recommendations or show you around might present the opportunity to discover hidden local gems. Check out what our fellow GlobeSisters were able to achieve on this Seattle trip with the wonderful guidance of a local hostess!

2) Saving money

Couch surfing can be a more affordable alternative to traveling if you want to budget or keep costs to a minimum. Using a service like GlobeSisters that prioritizes host-traveler connections over monetary transactions creates a much more authentic homestay experience. You never have to feel like there is some sort of hospitality transaction between the traveler and the host, and instead, you are able to have the opportunity to create a friendship. We've compiled several additional strategies for traveling on a budget, and we dove into the costs and benefits of different types of affordable accommodations outside of the usual expensive hotels.

3) Learning or improving on a new language

Staying with someone who speaks the native language of the place you are visiting is a great way to pick up or practice your ability to speak it too. It is always beneficial to pick up the local language or basic words (such as “hello,” “please,” and “thank you”) to help you along with your travels.

4) Making friendships

Couch surfing and homestays are a great way to get to know other people, especially your host. You can learn a lot about another person by spending quality time with them and staying in their home. You might enjoy your visit and new friendship so much that you want to invite your hostess to stay with you some time ( which has happened with travelers and hosts using GlobeSisters)!

Overall, couch surfing is an amazing and unique experience that can benefit both solo travelers and travelers looking for a fun authentic experience. Though there are a few downsides to be aware of, it is truly an unforgettable experience that many GlobeSisters are readily able to vouch for!

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