Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How to Crush it on CouchSurfing

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Traveling is one of the most life-affirming activities ever to exist. It can truly be a rush, adapting to a new setting and circumstances. There is no better substitute if you wish to broaden your horizons, learn about distant cultures and meet new people.

We gravitate towards new experiences, and couch surfing allows to do just that.

Ever since the dawn of time, hotels existed for a reason — to provide lodging for weary travelers and to become a financial burden for tourists. Hotels are expensive, especially when the vacation season is in full swing.

You have friends all over the world. You just haven't met them yet.

And it all starts by finding a couch. In a different country. That belongs to a perfect stranger.

CouchSurfing aims to provide an alternative to expensive accommodations. It is a system, a tool and an app that allows users to organize and provide "surfing" or homestay options to like-minded people all around the world. It is both a social media site and an accommodation sharing service.

Every single user is encouraged to complete their profile page and provide useful information about themselves. This, in turn, creates a database that allows guests to browse it and find a suitable host who will provide short-term bedding.

The biggest difference that separates CouchSurfing from other accommodation services like Airbnb is that CouchSurfing is free of charge. Guests are not required to compensate hosts for the lodging; homestay is provided at no cost.
But in some cases, it doesn't stop people with relentless entrepreneurial spirits.
I'll provide more details on the topic of dangers, nuances, and peculiarities, but a bit later.

What is CouchSurfing good for?

CouchSurfing fills a particular niche, like those services which provide an answer to common plights like "Help me write my essay." Reduced strain on your pockets means that you will get to enjoy both the social and the traveling aspect a bit more freely.

A refreshing development, since many capitals of the world aren't regarded as being cheap, but their allure is sometimes too strong to deny. Some of them are vital to visit at least once in a lifetime. In any case, you can't put a price on cultural exchange and enjoyable experiences.

Since getting the complete picture of the service at a cursory glance is nearly impossible, here are a few pointers you need to keep in mind if you intend to become a guest or a host. This article aims to shed light on the exciting topic of CouchSurfing.
You won't be spending a small fortune to stay at the hotel, so CouchSurfing is ideal for students and young adults.

So what does it do?

You gain the ability to find a host from a functionality standpoint easily.

You can use the service to contact the host and ask them to provide a short-term homestay. That is how the site functions, you will be staying with locals who will graciously offer you a room or an apartment.

Great so far, since you get to meet new people and make friends. On top of that, you will gain additional insight and understand more about the place you're staying at.

But there may be a downside to that, by co-living in a house or an apartment of your host, you become more reliant on them and their daily routine.
You will, most certainly, have to adapt your sleeping and other habits to fit their regime. Won't be a problem if you share interests with them, however.

Even though finding a place to stay can be easy from a technical standpoint, you may need to spend an inordinate amount of time to find a "perfect" host. It doesn't matter if it's a major city or a more modest one in scale, this concept applies either way.

Some Apartments Can Be Misrepresented

Even though hosts usually provide detailed information on the state of their apartment or a house, some people tend to omit this. The state of rooms can vary widely. Some hosts may even think that having a small hammock for a bed is sufficient enough. Be sure to examine photos before deciding on a host.

Continuing on the topic of habits and culture differences, some hosts may have a tendency to do something out of the ordinary. A difference of culture, eccentricity or a wicked sense of humor — you decide. But be prepared that they will walk around scantily clad, drinking and swearing. It may not even be a significant disadvantage, but be ready for hilarious interactions in any case. And potential harassment, but this mostly applies to unaccompanied females.

What is essential to keep in mind?

Before you start using the service and get all the benefits of surfing couches, you are required to register on the website.
Millions of people have already provided their details to participate in the system.
But like any other system, there are rules and regulations. To get the most out of CouchSurfing, you may need to put in some additional effort. Here are a few defining details for hosts and guests alike.

1) Feedback
Recommendations, reviews, feedback and responses build a foundation on how the guest perceives a host.
Misrepresentation is always a risk, but a person with no feedback can be just as charming and entertaining as people with countless reviews.
Minimize your risks by actually reading up on the person. 

2) Fill in Additional Details
If you want to become a host, it is vital to input personal information like gender, age, etc. Photos of yourself and your apartment will help greatly. Try putting some personality in your photos, that way other potential guests can see that you're a person just like everyone else.

3) Reply Rate and Reply Time
Reply rate is displayed as a percentage, it tells how good the host is at responding to requests, and response time tells how long it usually takes.

Don't draw premature conclusions just yet; those numbers depend on the location of the host. If it's a major tourist destination, they physically may not be able to respond promptly.

4) Languages
There are many languages spoken all over the world. But when it comes to Couchsurfing, your main means of communication will most certainly be English. If the host doesn't share a language with you, there may be alarge barrier in communication. Make sure that your host/guest speaks your language, it a prerequisite for an enjoyable stay.

5) Personal Approach
Requests are usually sent in by guests a few days before departure. If you end up sending it a couple of months in advance, you may be met with an indefinite "I don't know."

Since you will be spending time with a person you barely know, why not find out some relevant details about them in your request?

Mass produced requests have a high rejection rate. So make sure to personalize your emails. Be polite, respectful and speak to your host on a first name basis.

Tell a bit about yourself; it will be a huge bonus if you share interests with them. And always remember about etiquette.
Leaving and receiving references is a huge part of the process.

So, in summary, if you like to travel, meet people and enjoy authentic local lifestyles. CouchSurfing may just be the thing for you. No matter the capacity you want to fill on CouchSurfing, by being a guest or a host, remember to represent yourself adequately. Exercise caution and safety in everything you do. Have fun!

Robert Everett: I am a freelance writer currently based in Chicago. Solving students career and university problems. Having interest in marketing and business.
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