Home > Accommodation > Couch Surfing During Your Gap Year

Couch Surfing During Your Gap Year

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 9 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Travel Couch Surf Accommodation Benefits

Couch surfing, also known as sofa surfing, is a low-cost means of finding accommodation while you travel. Couch surfing isn’t always well understood, so before you decide if this is something you’d like to try out make sure you have the answers to these frequently asked questions about this untraditional method of travel.

What Is Couch Surfing?

“Couch surfing” is a modern term to describe staying on someone’s couch. You might get lucky and score your own guest room, or you might get unlucky and find a spot on the floor, but in general couch surfing describes staying in a private home. Those who couch surf should always be ready for rather basic accommodation, really just a sleeping space and the chance to use the bathroom. Food and access to the kitchen are not always included in an invitation to couch surf in someone’s home.

What Are the Benefits of Couch Surfing?

Couch surfing has many benefits. You get to stay in a private home and make new friends as well as experience everyday life in a new location. The more you couch surf, the wider your network of international friends will become. If you’re lucky you’ll get to participate in family meals and possibly even activities. Hopefully your hosts will also give you inside information about your location which can save you time, money and stress as you travel, and they may even let you use items like their telephone or Internet connection. At its best, couch surfing is low cost, less stressful and more personal than more traditional types of travel accommodation.

Are There Any Concerns Associated with Couch Surfing?

Couch surfing does allow travellers to choose to stay with total strangers so there can be some safety concerns and most times only those over the age of 18 are allowed to participate. Similarly, travellers will be staying in new environments which do not necessarily meet the same health and safety codes as accommodation options designed for the general public. Something as simple as staying with a host who has a cat when you are allergic could adversely effect your experience. Also, the security of a host’s home may not be of the same standard of other accommodation options so your personal possessions and peace of mind could be adversely effected as well.

What is the Cost of Couch Surfing?

Couch surfing is often free, though there can be associated costs depending on your own preferences and the requirements of your host. Some hosts won’t accept any money for any reason, not even to help pitch in with groceries or to cover local telephone calls, while others are more than happy for you to bring them a small gift or pick up the tab for a pizza dinner. To make sure you stay within your budget, research the cost of shared hostel rooms in the same area and set aside a similar amount of money for each day of your couch surfing adventure. Also be aware that most couch surfing hosts also couch surf themselves so there may be the expectation of reciprocity should they travel to your home area in the future.

Where Can I Find Out More About Couch Surfing?

Couch surfing is sometimes described as a lifestyle, so recommendations from those who have already participated are invaluable for building up your own network of contacts. Online sites also cater to those interested in couch surfing. Servas, Hospitality Club and The CouchSurfing Project are probably the three most well-known, well-respected organisations catering to travellers and hosts.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Hitch-Hiker
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    Having thought this over, I’ve realised the reason this post is so annoying is because of the stupid “safe vs. dangerous” binary…
    16 January 2020
  • Hitch-Hiker
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    “hitchhiking puts travellers at the mercy of others” Yes. Unlike bus travel where you obviously know the driver and the other…
    14 January 2020
  • Gone_Hitchhiking
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    Haha nice I think I feel so lucky right now as in over two years hh around the world I newer was robbed, killed not even subject…
    14 January 2020
  • Klim
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    Agree with Masala. The dangers are being rather exaggerated. I was taught to hitch by a girl. Stay smart but don’t let fear limit…
    14 January 2020
  • Masala
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    Been hitchhiking for almost 20 years, over 30 countries - Europe, Mid-east, South and Southeast Asia, Australia. I've had only one…
    14 January 2020
  • mplo
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    Lady Hitchhiker and speakingasanexpert: If YOU want to take such stupid risks to your health, safety and possibly your lives,…
    5 May 2019
  • mplo
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    Brandon Jackson, you're totally missing the point. The whole point is that when one hitchhikes or picks up hitchhikers, there's…
    5 May 2019
  • elifgul
    Re: Teaching Abroad
    Dear Author, I'm writing to let you know that I want to participate voluntarily in your institution's work. In this context, I would like to give…
    11 October 2018
  • mplo
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    Listen, AnonAnon: I disagree with you here. As I pointed out earlier on this thread, hitchhiking crimes are rare, because very few…
    20 September 2018
  • mplo
    Re: Hitch-Hiking and the Dangers
    To jesse and AnonAnon: Just because there are more cellphones and other methods of calling for help if one gets in a nasty,…
    20 September 2018