Couchsurfing.com is the online home of Couchsurfing, a company that wants to help travelers who are interested in staying with locals, meeting other travelers, and sharing their authentic experiences.
How Does It Work?
According to their website, the concept behind Couchsurfing is that “you have friends all over the world, you just haven’t met them yet.” Their website connects travelers who are interested in meeting locals with locals who are interested in hosting travelers.
Their website says that if you are considering becoming a Couchsurfing member, they have the perfect way for you to get started. After you complete your website profile, explaining your lifestyle, your mission, and what is important to you, you will be able to find Couchsurfing events organized in your own local community where you can meet current Couchsurfers and talk to them about their experiences and recommendations.
When you are ready to travel, you can find the city or cities you are considering traveling to and then browse through the hosts you have couches available. Host profiles will include references from previous travelers who have stayed there, so you have a better idea of what to expect when you arrive.
If you are interested in becoming a host, you have the option to register as a host but set your availability to “Not Right Now.” This allows you to meet and speak with travelers coming to your town without hosting them right away, so you can get used to the process and mingling with travelers before opening up your home.
This website does provide their travelers with mobile applications available for both iOS and Android devices so that you will have access to your Couchsurfing tools while you are actually couchsurfing!
This service does not appear to charge their members any fees for their service, but they do charge a fee for “Verification” services, which is when they perform a verification of your profile which makes you a more desirable traveler or host to other website members. They are clear that the cost of this service varies depending on where you live, so if you are interested in this feature you will have to check and see what the cost is based on your country of residence.
Because this company does not charge their customers any fees, nor do they allow their members to charge travelers any fees, they also do not provide their customers with any sort of Refund Policy. In fact, their website is very clear that if a member attempts to charge you for their “couch,” that you report them to the Couchsurfing website. That being said, their website does recommend their travelers do a small kindness for their host, like cook them a meal or bring them a small gift.
Customer Service Contact Info
Customers who would like to contact Customer Service with any questions, concerns, or complaints can do so by using their social media networks like Twitter and Facebook or through your account once you become a member.
Customers who are unsure if this service is right for them can go to their website and see what kinds of options they offer to their customers and see the resources and tools they provide to their members before you ever have to decide if you want to pay the membership fee.
Also there are many different blog posts online from Couchsurfing members that speak out against people who use this site thinking that they will be able to treat a host’s home as though it is simply a free hostel where you can come and go as you please, without any regard to your host and their family.
These members urge new, prospective members to keep in mind that hosts open their homes so that they can get to know travelers and provide them with an affordable way to make their way through the world – please be respectful of that.
Competitors and Alternatives?
There are many other companies that want to give travelers affordable, local alternatives to staying in large, expensive hotels, like AirBnB.com, HomeExchange.com, HomeAway.com, and many others, so you will have many other choices.
If you have any experience with this company or their products, please leave your Couchsurfing reviews below.