A few months ago, I wrote an article about the whole Couchsurfing idea, how it works, how safe it is, why you should join… Read it first, if you are wondering what it is all about.
Now, if I did a good job, you’re thinking maybe after all it’s not a bad idea to sign up. And that’s something ! Trust me, you will love Couchsurfing.
But first you have to get started with a kick ass profile and some awesome references that say you are the coolest person in the world. Here is how you do that.
— Staying with fly fhishing guides in Cairngorms Park in Scotland
How to fill in your profile
Spend some time filling in your profile so that people know who you are
Don’t write a novel, but say more than just one sentence. Be true to who you are, don’t try to impress anyone. Ask your friends or family for help, they know better than anyone else how to describe you.
Couch & house description
I rarely see this category properly filled in even though it is important. Try to describe your house and what you have to offer.
What sort of sleeping arrangements do you have, will it be a mattress on the floor or a couch ? Can you provide sheets and pillows or do guests have to bring their own ? It is ok to say that you don’t want to provide the sheets because it’s a lot of work with the laundry. Just say it in your profile.
Where is your house located (roughly) ? You don’t have to be ultra specific but an area, a metro station or a landmark will help your guest locate your flat so they can organise their trip.
Upload lots of pictures of you, it is reassuring for people. Unless you look like a serial killer. Also, when offering a couch, make sure you upload pictures of your home and your couch. It is unsafe to do so, and it can be helpful for your guest.
I got the idea of taking pictures of the directions to my home from Mikael, our host in Hong Kong. This can be very helpful when trying to find someone’s place !
— Exploring Bordeaux area with our hosts
How to get references before even surfing/hosting
Go to CS meet ups & weekly drinks
Couchsurfing is also a place that allows you to meet people from all over the world. In every town, there is a group dedicated to the town/region that meets regularly. Check for the groups in your town and join.
Meet the people who organise events and meet fellow travellers. Then ask them for references. Once they met you and you tell them you are new to the community, they will be happy to leave you a good reference.
Meet other travellers
As I said above, you can join Couchsurfing and decide not to surf or host just yet. What you can do is specify on your profile that you can be available to meet up, for showing travellers around your city or meet them for coffee or drinks. And then ask them to write a reference for you.
As a long term traveller I know I would love to meet a local, even if I’m not staying at her/his place, but just sharing tips and stories with a coffee in hand is a great experience. Plus you never know, you might end up getting along really well and make friends.
Ask your friends around
Tell people you are new to Couchsurfing and are looking for references. Post it on Facebook. You will be surprised to see how many of your Facebook friends are on Couchsurfing without you knowing. Friends can leave you a reference, telling people how they know you and why you are trustworthy.
If you have the space to host travellers in your house, then start hosting ! It’s always a good sign when people hosted first, before surfing themselves. Plus it will be a good way to get accustomed to Couchsurfing.
Now that you’ve got your profile all set up, met some of your fellow Couchsurfers and got some references, time to start hosting and surfing !
— Exploring Beijin with our host