Opinion on Couch Surfing?
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Nov 8, 2012 2:56 AM Last Post By: mendocinateacher
Nov 5, 2012 10:59 PM
Opinion on Couch Surfing?I will be embarking on a journey February 19.. Flying in to Panama and backpacking from there. Just wanted to know peoples opinions of couch surfing? Is it safe?What to expect? Any feedback would be helpful :)
Nov 5, 2012 11:14 PM
1I have been on couchsurfing for about 5 years (almost since the beginning). I have couchsurfed in 20-30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Somalia. I have over 200 experiences hosting, surfing and meeting for coffee. I thoroughly enjoy it.
There will be people who will talk about the organization or head office. About how CS is selling out to corporations. Those who harp on this issue are missing the point. CS is about person to person contacts, not organizational bullc**p.
To say it's perfectly safe would not be true, there have been incidents. But to say anything or anywhere is perfectly safe would be equally as misleading. Check out Cs's page about safety for tips and suggestions. There are nearly 5 million CSers in more than 96,000 cities in 207 countries, speaking 366 languages. Stuff happens in everyday life everywhere on Earth, CS is no different.
With that said, i had a tough time CSing in Central America. It was difficult to find hosts. I think i only found 4 or 5 hosts in my "recent" 3 month trip to the region. CS should not be your main plan for accommodation, but a added bonus Plan B if it happens.
Nov 6, 2012 1:47 AM
2I havent Couchsurfed in Latin America much. I did stay at a friends in Sao Paulo and I CSed in Recife before Carnival.
Fluffy_bunny states the good points, It generally is fun and enjoyable experience. There are certainly issues that can occur, these can occur at paid accomodation too.
But it is rather difficult to find hosts, its easy in Europe and Australia (where I've had most of my experiences). It was really difficult trying to organise hostes over there.
I would, try to organise accom through CS when you can, though if you have no planned accom, go to plan b (generally you can book hostels fairly cheap the night before you arrive somewhere) or plan c - grab the guide book and go in search of the cheapest posada.
Nov 7, 2012 10:07 AM
3The CS project is pretty incredible. If you can find people to host or show you around, DO IT. Just be grateful, gifts never hurt and always consider understanding the local town you are in better to be the end game, not finding a free place to crash. You can always tell the difference between the two.
That said, and not to detract to much as this wont pertain to you right now, but I do believe the new structure of CS is killing it. #1 is far more experienced than I, but as CS has stakeholders now they are advertising, and the site has been inundated with people who have no references, experience, no desire to build the community and no desire to use CS for anything other than a free place to crash. But I digress.
Some things that can help your experience are to fill out your profile completely. Several clear pictures of yourself. Don't worry about paying to be verified. Also try to meet up with some people near you or on a day trip before you go on your big trip. Gaining references is critical, most people will not even consider someone with out being vouched for by another member of the CS community.
Good luck and DO IT, it is a life experience that you will not regret.
Edited by: Untracked
Nov 8, 2012 2:56 AM
4I should also add that joining Couchsurfing is a good idea (when registering, ignore the request for a 25 dollar "donation" for "vouching", as it is only optional). Besides being a site to find a place to crash, it is also good for getting info on a place, arrange to meet people for activities or coffee, and to get together with both locals and fellow travelers. Each community has a group forum, join and ask for people to show you around or meet for a coffee. You can search each community forum, for things like Spanish schools or other activities, or just ask by post. If you do not speak Spanish yet, do not worry, many can read and speak English. However, do not rely on getting places to stay, CS is not a reliable way to arrange accomodation, people can be fickle and undependable about keeping commitments as everywhere.
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