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15 Unbreakable Rules For Successful Hosting With Couchsurfing

Last updated on November 13, 2021

Looking back at this post 8 years later in 2021 makes me smile. It ‘went viral’ and has had hundreds of thousands of views. People seemed to either really like it, or obsessively hate it. I think the people who liked it understood the logic of what I was trying to do, which was to give a ‘template’ to new hosts that if followed gave the highest probability of a positive experience.

Yes it was harsh on hitch-hikers, and many people hated that I advised people to avoid them ‘like the plague’. I was simply trying to steer new hosts away from potentially tricky experiences that on average (in my 100+ experiences) would leave them frustrated, and therefore at a higher risk of having a negative first hosting experience.



Over the last two years I’ve had over 50 complete strangers stay with me through Couchsurfing ( The basic idea is that as a host you offer free accommodation to travellers who need somewhere to stay. People make requests to stay at your home through the website in advance, you then decide whether to accept them or not.

cs4Stage 1 – The basics of becoming a host

1. Understand the selection process

When potential couchsurfers are looking for a place to stay, they will breeze through all the hosts in a particular city. Often there are dozens, if not hundreds, of hosts in each city. They are likely to select hosts firstly on the number of references, then by profile picture, then by what is said on the profile page. It’s in your interest to be selected by as many potential couchsurfers as possible, as this gives you the option to choose who you would like to host from a wider selection of people. By following these tips you can ensure you get a lot of ‘couch requests’ to choose from!

2. Enhance your profile pictures

You must ensure that you have at least 3 good pictures of yourself. Yes, of yourself, not of random exotic locations! People are looking at your pictures to gain an idea of if you are a trustworthy person, and what your personality is likely to be like. Ensure that your pictures show that you are a friendly, clean, happy person. Additionally one of your couch is recommended, ensure it is a good one though, with the bed made and looking clean.

3. Build your references

On day one you won’t have any references, which won’t stop you from getting requests in general, but it might stop you from getting personal requests, you will be left with ‘cut & paste/desperate’ requests. In the long run, you will want to build up a large collection of good references. It may be a good idea to find one or two friends who use couchsurfing, and ask them to write you a reference. One good reference is a million times better than no references.cs3

4. Write a good description

Most couchsurfers are specifically looking for a genuine host, who takes the philosophy of couchsurfing seriously. Use your description to demonstrate that you are one of these people. Talk about how you discovered couchsurfing, and give your thoughts on the project.

Next, describe any hobbies that you have, what kind of person you are, and what your dreams are in life. This is important, as many people will read this then remember what they read when their conversation with you reaches an awkward silence. Thus, if you enjoy talking about James Bond movies, or The Simpsons, or Hilary Clinton even, then note this down, and be confident that it will come up from time to time.

Additionally, use this space to hint at the sort of person you would like to attract. For example, if you are a major lover of chess, put this in your description, and you will find other fans of the game will reveal this to you in their requests if they wish to play. You could get yourself a different playing partner each night of the week!

5. Some basic rules and your keyword

In the section about your couch you should include some basic rules for people staying at your house. This is not to put people off, but in fact to help them, and allow them to feel more at ease. On my profile I list various pieces of information such as the fact people don’t need to bring bed-linen or sleeping bags (I don’t want bed bugs!), and that they should use the proper couch request system (see my profile for the full list, feel free to copy it).

Additionally, at the bottom of these rules you should put your ‘keyword’. This is a word that you state people need to use when they are sending you a couch request.

For example I say: “If you put “Yeeeooo Oli” in your request to me I’ll know right away that you’ve read this, and it will massively increase your chances of getting a yes”.

Ignore requests from people who do not state your keyword. They are most likely ‘cutting and pasting’ requests to as many people as possible. Additionally, they won’t have read your rules, nor most probably, your profile or references. These are the people just looking to use you as a free hotel.

Stage 2 – You’ve got a great profile, and are getting a ton of requests, what next?!

6. Ignore these people right away:

People with no photos on their profile – they haven’t understood the reason for them
People who don’t use your keyword – they are lazy and just want to use you
People who don’t address you by your name – they are ‘cutting and pasting’
People who have no references – unless they have lots of photos and a good request
People who want to stay for an indefinite period of time – they want to live on your sofa for a month
People who’s pictures aren’t of them – they haven’t understood why photos are so important
Groups where nobody speaks a language you can at least understand – they will ignore you and speak between themselves all of the time


7. Avoid hitch-hikers like the plague

Due to the nature of hitch-hiking, it is impossible for your couchsurfers to give you an accurate arrival time. You do not want to be stuck waiting for your couchsurfers to arrive, when you could be doing other more productive things. Avoid this scenario by simply saying no.

8. Meet them off the bus/train from the airport. (NOT at your house)

Do not have your couchsurfers coming directly to your home. There is a very good reason for this. It gives you the chance to pass on any ultra-crazy looking people, plus you can ensure that the correct number of people are in the group. Additionally it gives you the chance to cancel there and then if you have bad feelings about the people. I have never needed to do this, but having the power to do so is important.

The other incredibly important reason to do this is that you remove the possibility of couchsurfers getting lost whilst looking for your house. If they have foreign mobile phones, then giving directions over the phone, even via text messages, can quickly cost you a fortune!

9. Prefer those who arrive by plane

Ideally you want to be hosting people who are arriving by plane. The reason for this is that you can confidently predict their arrival time, and plan your day accordingly. Ensure that you give them clear directions from the airport to the agreed meeting place. Where two forms of transport are available (e.g. bus/train from airport), pick the simplest option. You want to minimise the chance of them getting lost.

10. Have them arrive between 7pm and 10pm

Agree a suitable meeting time with your couchsurfers, and have them confirm via SMS about half an hour beforehand. This way you can plan your day around their arrival, and ensure your house is clean and prepared.

I find that having them arrive in the evening works best. You meet them and take their belongings back to your place. Give them a moment or two to relax, offer them a drink and something to eat if they are hungry. Then afterwards you have enough time to wander around your city for a while and get to know them. The advantage of it being the evening time is that you will only need to talk to them for 2-3 hours at first. The natural break of sleeping then allows you to rest and recover from the excitement/nerves of meeting them. Spending more hours than this with them on the first day can begin to feel like too much, and lead to the conversation becoming boring or repetitive.cs5

11. Host them for 2 or 3 nights

Hosting people for just one night is not ideal. The first reason being that you will have minimal time to get to know them. Secondly there will be minimal time for the couchsurfers to see your city. Plus they will most likely be interested in sleeping early, as the next day is a travel day for them, rather than talking with you about you or your city.

2 nights is workable, and pretty common. The ideal period is probably 3 nights, which gives you enough time to get to know the people, show them your city, and perhaps go for some drinks with them on one of the nights.

More than 3 nights and you will find yourself running out of topics of conversation. Additionally, the longer people stay, the more they are likely to have a lethargic lay-about attitude to their stay, which is not the sort of attitude you want filling your home.

12. Read up on them beforehand

It goes without saying that you should only host people that you are interested in meeting. If their couch request was positive, then look at their profile. Does your gut feeling tell you that you and this person would get along? Click on their profile picture and look at their pictures. Do you feel like this person would bring a positive vibe to your home? Look at their references, read carefully what others have written about the person. 3 or more good well written references from past hosts and you can be pretty sure this person understands couchsurfing and would be fun to host.

Once you have decided to host them, reply to their request with either an ‘Accept’ (when you have strong positive feelings about hosting this person), or a ‘Maybe’ (when you aren’t 100% sure you want to host them yet). You can use the ‘Maybe’ option to further judge them on how they reply to your messages, and to give you the option to cancel if you feel like you want to make other plans. Never cancel after giving someone an ‘Accept’.

Give your phone number to people, but not your exact address. Arrange to meet them somewhere as explained above. Try to exchange 2 or 3 messages with them before they arrive, wish them a happy trip if they are flying to your city/country. Their attitude will be better if they feel happy and confident about their stay prior to arriving, and the quality of conversation is often much better if they are happy and relaxed.

Stage 3 – Whilst they are staying at your place

13. Always offer them breakfast

Always offer your couchsurfers cereal in the mornings. Offer it to them specifically. Also offer coffee, water, and ideally some kind of soft drink. Offer them a drink when they arrive as well. These goodwill gestures will help enhance the bond between you. If you can, offer them food during the evening as well, 90% of the time they will offer to cook themselves. The cost to you of doing all of this is minimal, and the benefits extensive.cs2

14. Show them your city

Always plan to spend several hours with your couchsurfers each day. You will most likely be working or studying, so your available time with them will be limited. Your couchsurfers will understand, and in fact encouraging them to go out alone during the day is recommended. This time apart will increase the quality of conversation when you do spend time together. Try to avoid other social contact whilst you have couchsurfers. You should spend your evenings entertaining your couchsurfers, or introducing your couchsurfers to your friends. If you have a free day, and are able to spend it with your couchsurfers, offer to take them somewhere, such as a local town or city. If your time is extremely limited whilst hosting, at least eat an evening meal with them.

15. Follow the golden rule

Treat your couchsurfers exactly how you would like to be treated if you were staying with the best host in the world. Go that extra mile to ensure that your visitors have a great stay. Offer to draw them a map if you think they’re a little navigationally challenged. Ensure they know they can help themselves to drinks and basic food. Pass on any hints you have about exploring your city. Do everything you can to build genuine connections with people. Help people out now, by offering them free accommodation in your home, and know you’re doing your small bit to make the world that bit more connected and peaceful.

If you follow these basic tips, your gut-feelings and have the right attitude, then hosting couchsurfers can be one of the most unique and interesting opportunities that the 21st century offers.

In the last two years I have hosted people from China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Malaysia, Czech Republic, France, Romania, Brazil, Chile, Peru, USA, Italy, Germany, Poland, UK, Ireland, Turkey, Spain, Greece, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong. Nothing bad has ever happened. I’ve made some fantastic friends, have an abundance of offers of a bed to sleep in should I need it, and have learnt many things about the world. All from the comfort of my own home. I highly recommended you give it a try!

Published inTravel


  1. Steve Steve

    Pretty good write-up, but full of stereotypes. I’ve hosted hundreds and broke a lot of your commands (Make them come at a certain time sounds too harsh; I’ve hosted and had fun with people who didn’t speak my language well). Maybe you should take off your blinders and live a life.

  2. a couchsurfer and hitchhiker a couchsurfer and hitchhiker

    This is such a bunch of bullshit. Please avoid making rules out of your own little experiences.

  3. Chuck Chuck

    Nice article. I would add a tip which is especially useful, I think, for new hosts: you can easily jump-start the process of hosting by reaching out to surfers and inviting those who are looking for a place, rather than waiting for them to contact you. Just click on the “Host a Traveler” button on the Couch Surfing website, specify criteria as needed, and browse the profiles. Invite anybody who looks like they would be fun to host. If they’re still posting that they need a place in the next few days, the odds are probably better that they’ll accept your offer.

    Be sure to read through their profiles & look at their photos BEFORE inviting them. Once or twice I invited someone who looked nice and then realized that I hadn’t checked that they had any references yet! (Fortunately, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with almost two dozen surfers in the last year.)

    This worked for me when I started hosting last year, and allowed me to easily build up a few positive references, which in turn made my profile more attractive to future surfers.

  4. Ich bin in der USA in Atlanta, muss noch bis Do hier bleiben und weiß nicht was ich machen soll. Do fliege ich nach Rio.

  5. Piotr Piotr

    Hosting people traveling only via plane is a/ not ecological, b/ snobish, c/ omiting real tavellers,
    Not hosting hitchikers is like above and from my experience they have the greatest stories, it’s just tell them what time afternoon you are waiting for them.

    • Sum sum Sum sum

      As a Hong Konger, I strongly do not think so. It is shameful to be confused as a mainland Chinese and I am sure a considerate portion of Hong Kong locals would share the same feeling

  6. Nice write-up! This might be a better page to turn to than CS’ own pages for explanations how to get started.

    I wholeheartedly disagree on the hitchhikers point, though. For me these people are often the most interesting travelers out there due to their ways of travel and generally these people have a more relaxed character that I like interacting with. Not knowing their exact arrival time doesn’t have to be a bad thing: just do your thing as long as they are not there yet and once they are near you can arrange a meeting location, even if you meanwhile went to a party for instance.

  7. Lea Lea

    I am not sure you understand what couchsurfing is all about. Not hosting hitch-hikers? Only people who arrive by plane?
    It’s about making new experiences, not about forcing people to stick to your schedule.

    Please people – don’t become a CS snob. Have some sense

  8. It’s nice of you to host CSers and writing these rules. You’re a blessing! I wish I can get the chance to go in Spain (and maybe you can host me, too). 🙂

  9. Ira Rahmawati Ira Rahmawati

    I agree that number 1 is most important. Number 4 is also necessary.
    Completely disagree with number 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.
    For number 14: I can not do that, hence I provide a good map of bus route, train route, and map of the city along with places to visit. I can show them around my neighborhood but not more.
    Have hosted more than 15 groups of people, have rejected about the same number.

  10. Nandini Nandini

    “Avoid hitch-hikers like the plague” :—completely disagree to this. I had hosted a hitchhiker and believe me, it was one of the best CS experience. They come with many interesting travel stories and amazing experience, much more mature travelers they are.

    Every CS experience of mine has been wonderful, every time I hosted someone, learnt a lot. I would say go by your guts feelings and enjoy hosting/surfing. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this beautiful concept; long live Couchsurfing!!

  11. JanC JanC

    Why would you listen to someone with such LITTLE EXPERIENCE? All is full of bullshit especially the hitchhikers part. Are you that excited that after hosting few people you really have to write a blog about it? haha! After reading this, I hope you can still get couch requests.

  12. thierry thierry

    My bests host were hitchhikers…I bet you never had a real travel experience yourself right…full off stereotypes, typical “bourgeoisie” way of thinking, stuck ,in his little comfort…pretty lame…

    • Oli Norwell Oli Norwell

      I’ve spent 18 months of my life traveling, I wrote a travel blog with 240+ entries. (read here). So I think it’s fair to say that I’m not an armchair pundit.

      • Oli, you have made sweeping arrogant generalizations! Everyone experience is there own. I could see you if the premise was focused fully on safety and back with evidence based writing. Albeit there are facts here – you should support them with evidence and sources to reference. I agree you sound like a uptown snob!

        It’s sad to say you have wrote something which should be titled ” the have’s and the have NOT’s.”

        Only host people traveling by plane.

        Many people are driving from long distisance ( I guess in England road trips are out of the question?) just saying in…….

  13. Nice post. This is helpful to CS newbies like me. I haven’t hosted or surfed and your post encouraged me to update my profile. thanks!

  14. I like this article, well done Oli thank you for sharing. Well written and full of good information, It would be good to have this article on the couchsurfing website. It would have been very helpful when I was deciding if hosting couchsurfers would be good for me.
    It is helpful to read articles and comments by other hosts. My couchsurfers have organised to meet me after I have finished work, and also stayed at the weekend when I have more time to show them around.
    So far all my surfers have been great people, we have shared some nice meals and sightseeing local attractions.

  15. Sam Sam

    some good tips oli, especially the one with the password. though i knew them all i dont agree with all of them either. I think some depends on how open and risky you are .. as for me, i hostes a LOT of surfers with no references(fresh profiles) and they seem to be actually the nicest, bc they wanna do everything right the first time 😉
    i have over 70 refs but no vouching. dont care ^^

    • Robert Robert

      I agree with this comment. Those rules may not be unbreakable, but they give a good reference point especially for inexperienced hosts. For me couchsurfing newbies with no references have brought some really nice experiences. After all, everybody has to start at some point and I like to be the one who extends a hand, so long as their request feels genuine and respectful.
      Thanks Oli for writing this up and keep hosting because CS is lucky to have you 🙂

  16. Frida Frida

    Even though some “rules” may not be applicable to me and my life, I like the idea with the ” keyword” a lot and will include that in my profile as well.

  17. Name Name

    A lot of this is good stuff – e.g. the advice on pictures and references. But I disagree with a couple of your “rules”:
    1) Avoid hitchhikers: This is just a silly rule. Hitchhikers embody the spirit of couchsurfing! Sure it’s a little unpredictable sometimes, but where’s the fun in predictability?
    2) Show them your city/prepare breakfast: This is a good idea, but when I’m busy working, I don’t always have time to do this. However, I do let the couchsurfers know up-front that I might not have a ton of time for them depending on my schedule (and for couchsurfers just eager for a place to crash, it’s never been a problem).
    3) Keyword: Look, couchsurfers are probably trying to enjoy their travels and have better things to do than read a hundred CS profiles. There’s nothing wrong with a cut-and-paste request, in my opinion. When you’re in a foreign country looking for a couch , you don’t want to spend hours in front of a computer screen reading CS profiles – you want to be out an exploring!

  18. Joaquin Joaquin

    Traveling is about flexibility and so is hosting. While I agree on some of the suggestions here I hope no one takes them as RULES, just as suggestions. Snobs are everywhere and CS is not an exception. The one point that I disagree the most is canceling on your guest at the airport based on appareances or manners. At least take the person in for one night so he can get his/her act together and find another place to stay. Now, if he/she is a criminal you call the police. Two different things, one is about prejudice and gut feeling and the other is about facts. Make a difference because I would not like to be stranded and homeless because the host that already decided to take me in changed his/her pretty little mind and left me without a place to sleep. I wouldn’t do that to anyone without a very, very good reason.

    All of this in my opinion, because like I said, I believe in flexibility and some of these suggestions are very well apretiated.

    • Oli Norwell Oli Norwell

      Just to confirm, I’ve never cancelled a guest on meeting them. It would have to be an extremely strange situation for that to ever happen. But then I did once have a surfer, who rather than stay herself, asked me how many people could stay at my place, then proceeded to select that amount of people from a line of her friends! Then she left to stay in a hostel. You should always reserve the option to say no, whilst knowing that you are 99.9% sure you’ll never use it.

    • steve steve

      why the hosts must be flexible and not the guest? if the host is not flexible you must find another way to find a place to stay .

      that’s is why guests must also be flexible and have plan B.

      keep some money with you and don’t depend on people if you don’t want to be homeless in a country that is not familiar to you and waste ur time when you are on vacation.

      Hosts have the right to cancel, they have a life when I couch if a host can’t host me at the last minute I book a hotel room. there are many available rooms in a city when you have few money to pay you don’t need to be rich,

  19. lena lena

    Such a bunch of bullcrap! Not hosting hitchhikers? U really haven’t understood the idea of cs. Pictures where you look nice and clean?! My bed is never made, and a guest is better prepared for that. A profile is there to show some individuality. with all that stupid rules u take away exactly that-the nice little mess life can be and the opportunity cs gives to get out of your comfort zone and experience smth new. Really wouldn’t wanna surf ur couch.

  20. pankanapa pankanapa

    Some of these rules are ok, I use them also and they are quite natural, but:

    “Avoid hitch-hikers like the plague” – what?! Almost everywhere I went in last 8 years I went with a hitchhike, that were: Vienna and Villach in Austria, Brno in Czech, Berlin, Wuerzburg and Hamburg in Germany and Strasbourg, Dijon and Bordeaux in France, to some of these cities I was going one day or one day and half long and there was never some problem with a meeting, no one was waiting at me for hours, I was texting them where I am during my trip and giving to my hosts some idea when I can end my journey. So I think that you, as a couchsurfer with some experience, should be more open.

    “More than 3 nights and you will find yourself running out of topics of conversation.” – great…

    “The natural break of sleeping then allows you to rest and recover from the excitement/nerves of meeting them.” – even better…

  21. Collin Collin

    this guy is uptight. he really needs to loosen up. me and the girl have hosted a lot. we would never use most of those rules. it really sound snobish and verges on rude. it also doesn’t sound very generous. i usually host because i want to help travelers. if someone needs a place it doesn’t matter if it’s one day or four. it’s not always about me. take my advice, be flexible!

    btw “no hitchhikers” really?!?!

  22. Kasia Kasia

    Unbreakable rule numbe 14: Always plan to spend several hours with your couchsurfers each day!!! Than – thank you very much, I give up!

  23. Eduardo Portillo Eduardo Portillo

    Come on almost all my guest have been hitchhikers!! all them really nice people that have made my life more richer in a couple of days with them! and with all of them we are still in touch!

  24. Amy Amy

    I just want to say that I think these tips are helpful, especially for Couchsurfers who are looking into hosting for the first time. It gives you a good overview of what you can expect as a host, whether you take the advice or not.

    People don’t need to be so defensive about their hosting style. This is a blog of personal experiences, so of course these rules are set by this guy based on his own experiences of what makes a Couchsurfing experience successful for the host and the surfer. I’m sure everyone have different ways of making their hosting experience great. It’s okay guys, no one is saying the way you host is the wrong way. Your way could be much better than this guy’s, but these rules have worked for him. There’s really no need to put this guy down.

  25. Christina Christina

    The rude and aggressive manner in which some people responded to your comments shows me they are not the kind of people I would want to stay with. Everyone is entitled to decide who they want to stay in their home. So make your own rules if you have any and take the good stuff out of the article and leave the rest – no need to be so emotive and reactive in such a full on psycho manner…. what is wrong with people ?

  26. Louis Rosas Louis Rosas

    I agree with everything. i have hosted people riding their bike across america to raise awareness and funds for something they felt strongly about. i agree that we should treat people as we would also like to be treated.

  27. adam seward adam seward

    I am a couchsurfer host in Peru; I break every one of your rules every time, because I believe in none of them. I accept every request that is not for a date already taken, and have enjoyed every guest who came by, including the ones whose profiles or request emails I didn’t like. This is not because I love everybody; in fact, I’m a lifelong loner and kind of a misanthrope; but these couchsurfers have been great people, adventurous, intelligent, courageous, open-hearted, and often knowledgeable. I have designed my profile to showcase the idiosyncratic aspect of my personality to “weed out the non-hackers,” not to advertise myself. It seems to work because so far, I get no lemons.

    “Unbreakable rules.” Yeah? I’m glad I’m not your kid. You would be very “disappointed” in me all the time. But my guests aren’t. Every one of them has enjoyed their time here, some staying for weeks instead of the planned day or two, and I have loved their loving this place because: I love this place. Can you get that? That’s what it’s about.

  28. Phil Hoover Phil Hoover

    I’ve hosted more than 540 people from 97 different nations in less than 4 years. Your suggestions are good…but merely suggestions…

  29. ke yang ke yang

    I have been hosting people for almost a month, and so far I have had 8 guests. I can say that most of the information in this page is an accurate description of what i have experienced.
    As for my guest preferences, here are my thoughts. My favourite guests are those who are taking time off work to go traveling. I am generally comfortable with guests who quit their job to go traveling but can finance their trips. I cannot agree more with not hosting hitchhickers, because hitchhickers tend to be unorganized, squalid, and sometimes not very polite.
    Yes, you should make your profile page as complete as possible so that you catch the interests of travelers looking for hosts. I get at least 4 couchsurfing requests every week indeed.

  30. Of course I don’t agree with EVERYTHING you said, but I don’t feel the need to insult you on your own blog that you spent a lot of time writing 🙂 (Wow, shocked at the number of people who did that to be honest). I DO like the idea about a password though. Nice tip. Disagree about the photos. Most of the people who looked at my photo previously were there for hook-ups. So I started posting the funniest and frumpiest photos of myself instead. Got a whole lot better crowd!

    • Phil Hoover Phil Hoover

      Photos are important…and I agree with Rae…My experience over 5 years (579 guests from all 50 states, and 101 countries) has been that every situation is different…keeping each situation “fresh” and “interesting” can be a challenge. Hopefully, I’ve managed to do just that.

  31. james james

    follow the host’s rules if you are not happy go and get another host or find a hotel/hostel.

    hitchhikers fuck up the host’s day, i host hitchhikers only the next day after their arrival is important to meet the couchsurfer at the exact time. hosts have a life. never more than one person. all ppl i host must participate in activities i like, that’s why they must have the same hobbies and interests as i do if not there is no interest to host.

    hosts are not free hotel.

  32. Jay Jay

    couchsurfing sucks I prefer airbnb I can make money and people already know what service they paid or I can book a room or a flat without owing anything to the owner except money. most ppl I recieved are respectful.

    7 years ago I would say couchsurfing is a good concept.

    most couchsurfers are cheap and self centered nowadays because anybody can join the community. they just want to recieve but don’t want to give

    why ppl should waste their time with strangers they will never see again after they left? couchsurfing is not a good website to build long term friendship.

  33. Ernesto Ernesto

    Make them breakfast or provide breakfast… must be crazy. Ever heard of couch schmoozers?

    • Phil Hoover Phil Hoover

      If you are a guest in my home, I ALWAYS offer your breakfast…but you are not OBLIGATED to accept it…

  34. Kinga Kinga

    It should’ve be entitled “How to make yourself the most comfortable while hosting”. Most of the rules are just selfish.

    Not to host hitch-hikers only cos they won’t give you an accurate arrival time? And where is the problem if they write you honestly who they are and then keep in touch while on your road? I’m a hitchhiker (also hosted hitchhikers) and nobody never had anything against it, more likely people were happy to share experiences. And no, we’re not always late. It all depends on a person, if you respect other people you start hitchhiking early in the morning or you make only short distances per day. It REALLY works. Also, note the fact that hh is actually of very similiar spirit to CS (travelling, paying back with conversations etc). Why not to meet people of the same interests?

    Not to host people with no references? Sure, we all have like 50+ of them right from the beginning. Let’s not give a chance for these contemptible greenhorns!

    Include keywords? Believe me, there are lots of people who will read your profile only to get “yes” but still treat you as a free hotel. On another, there will be people who maybe don’t read carefully or forget to include your keyword, but still pay all their attention while talking to you. I’d advice you to trust people more and don’t be so focused on yourself. If you play games with me, make me read something OBLIGATORY (even tho I always read), I’d rather skip requesting you, cos it just puts you in a position of The-Highest-Lord, not a host.

    I’d advise you to take it more easy while hosting. You’re not the center of the world just because you let people sleep on your couch. They actually pay you back – with conversations (even tho sometimes they could be tired), with references, with gifts, with cooking or whatever. And no, I’m not a guest only – I also host, but I’d never treat people like you advise.

    • Oli Norwell Oli Norwell

      All I’m doing is relaying my experience over 5+ years with 75+ people. You may have had different experiences.

      My tips give a newcomer to hosting the best possible chance of having an enjoyable stress-free experience.

      Obviously it’s just my point of view, and you’re welcome to dismiss it 🙂

      • Phil Hoover Phil Hoover

        I think you make excellent points…but I always meet people at my home–if I’m going to be home…every guest and every situation is different..

        I have “unbreakable rules”…but they are slightly different from yours.

    • It’s funny how we both wrote a very long comment mentioning the same absurd rules haha. Glad I’m not the only one baffled by this blog post!

  35. Phil Hoover Phil Hoover

    For the most part, it is a good article. I have hosted 579 people from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and 101 nations…every host is different, and every guest is different…every situation is different. It is very important to be clear before the guests arrive, and for the host to know where the boundaries are for themselves and their guests. I could write several books on this…

  36. I really don’t like this approach to couchsurfing. The idea of including a ‘keyword’ in descriptions always puts me off even messaging people, and as someone who hosts more than Couchsurfing itself I find it pretty lame. I understand wanting people to read through your profile, but let’s be honest: CS is also a platform to help each other out and sometimes this happens to be in situations where money is running low. I am not going to penalise a desperate traveller who needs my help, even though he hasn’t read every single line of my profile. Especially since, being a traveller myself, I know sometimes connection and phone batteries are not our best friends, which can prompt people to just try to send out as many requests as possible. Secondly.. not hosting people with no references? Really? You are telling me that if someone is new on the platform and perhaps is using it despite none of his friends being into it, people shouldn’t host them? What the fuck? I actually love hosting people with no references, because I like to give them a good first experience with the platform! Also, avoiding hitch hikers like the plague…. ? How about simply communicating with them as people and letting them know which time of the day suits you best? That sounds more reasonable to me!

    Quite frankly everyone has their own way of hosting and I am not saying yours isn’t good, but to call these ‘unbreakable rules’ is absurd.

  37. Adam Seward Adam Seward

    I host in Ollantaytambo Peru. I have hosted over 400 people. I make explicit that I want no payment of any kind and will not accept gifts. Freeloaders welcome. I don’t use keywords. I accept everybody if the day is open. Hitchhikers very welcome, as are bicyclists; they have learned to predict a time of arrival.

    I require a time of arrival the day before (unless it is a same-day request) and they either make that time or lose their room. That’s my deal.

    My experiences have been fine. Some of the people whose profiles have been the most annoying and off-putting have turned out to be the best of guests.

    You talk too much. Your rules are dumb. This site is valuable only for the responses to your anal neurotic vaporings. Learn.

  38. Adam Seward Adam Seward

    I host in Ollantaytambo, Peru. I have 233 references, 230 of them positive. Your list of “ignores” is despicable for a wide range of reasons. You are an egoistic racist snob. I have accepted every request as long as the date was open, and never regretted it. I will remember you, though, and if you were to request you would be my first denial. I wouldn’t lift a finger to save your life.

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