Couchsurfing 101: Building a Profile
Couchsurfing.org, a well-structured website that allows its users to connect with generous couch hosts around the world, is an invaluable resource that I discovered only a few short years ago. The theory behind the concept is more beautiful than meets the eye– not only are travelers able to contact potential hosts in hopes of saving some money (while still sleeping somewhere safe and warm), travelers are also given the opportunity to reach out to locals of the place they’ll be traveling! People who can show them the local ins and outs of the city, take them out for drinks, and potentially become lifelong friends. So how does the whole website work exactly?
First, type in the url: couchsurfing.org. This should take you to a page where you are given the option to sign up, or log-in. If you are a first time user, select the sign up option. Don’t be worried about entering your email address and phone number, these are only used to verify your identity for the safety of the other Couchsurfers. I have never received spam mail from the website, and your information is kept completely confidential. Once you have filled out the basic information, you will want to build a profile.
Like any other social media site, building the perfect profile is absolutely key to your success. It is your online persona, your avatar, and what will attract (or repel) potential friends from you. That being said, your Couchsurfer profile is different in one important way– it is created with the intention of eventually meeting these other individuals. Don’t spice up your life with false details or put up unrealistic pictures– be true to yourself and your personality, because this will dictate the sort of people you will meet. Upload a vibrant picture– it could be a clear headshot or a photograph of you traveling somewhere beautiful, or doing something you love. Make sure to avoid dark, pixilated photographs because these come off unbelievably creepy. Old man in the argyle sweater, I’m talking to you. If someone is opening their home to you or staying overnight in your home, they want to know what you look like. They want to see that your eyes are the eyes of someone that can be trusted. Another mistake to avoid is putting up a photograph of yourself surrounded by friends. It can be off-putting to view someone’s profile picture and be unsure which of the fifteen fairly small faces is them.
Once you have uploaded a clear, friendly image of yourself, begin to fill in the details of your life. You’ll be asked about your interests, your personal philosophy, your favorites movies, books, and films, places you’ve traveled and –of course– your living situation. Don’t be afraid to elaborate. People will be much more comfortable staying in close quarters with someone who loves Braveheart, rock climbing, and dreams of learning to surf, than someone who likes “funny” movies and has a “great personality.” Remember that descriptive words are your friends, and the more relatable details you provide, the better!
Lastly, fill out your Couchsurfer hosting information. You’ll see a button with an orange couch on it, asking if you are willing to host Couchsurfers while you are not traveling. Think about it carefully before responding. Selecting “yes” is not an in-stone commitment, but you will more than likely begin receiving regular requests from Couchsurfers for a place to stay. Are you comfortable with other people in your house and around your belongings? Will you feel pleasant or awkward with the company of new friends in your private space? If you decide that you would like to host, select Yes, and proceed to fill out the specific information regarding your hosting situation. Are you okay with kids or pets staying in your home? Don’t be afraid to say no if you are not. After all, you are being kind enough to open up your home, and you are the one to make the rules.