The US is presumably one of the most noteworthy countries when it comes to travelling. It is picturesque, it is interesting, it is full of incredible things to do, and – what is important – it can be cheap. The following series of blogs aims at one question – how to travel every month with only the Fellow’s stipend in your hands? Based on my experience, it is more than possible – taken into account some budget tips.
In previous three posts I talked on where you can spend a night during the travel. Now it’s time to speak about the best money-saving tool ever – Couchsurfing.
For those few who never heard about it – you are staying at other people’s homes in exchange for your company, conversation and time together. As I mentioned in the first blog, CS is certainly the best way to find a place to stay among all the other similar services like BeWelcome and it’s definitely the way better than Hospitality Club that features one of the worst eye-bleeding websites ever. But to make it work, I would suggest to know the following things about CS.
- QUANTITY MATTERS
How it works – before the trip you look for the hosts in the city you go to, select the guys you like, send them requests and wait till they answer. Simple. However, it is not always easy to get a positive response – or to get response at all. Sometimes I was hosted by the guys that replied me right away, sometimes I had to reach out to dozens of people until I got the right person. Reasons may vary – they are not active at CS, they don’t have time or space to host you, they just don’t like you, etc. So if you really wanna do CS, expect to write to a lot of people, and do not wait for the response from your favourite choice – reach out to the several folks at the same time.
- START IN ADVANCE
CS has an option to verify your account. What does it mean? People will be more confident and less suspicious about you, and most important – you will not be limited by the number of people you can text to. The default amount is only ten per week – which might not be enough to find your future host. Since the account verification is pretty expensive – around $50 (and, in my opinion, does not worth it), I would suggest start sending requests at least two or three weeks in advance so you have in total 20-30 people as your potential hosts.
- POLISH UP YOUR ACCOUNT
That’s where you should start from. While responding to the guest, hosts usually look at your photo, general information and, most important, references from other hosts. It’s a bit harder to get a host if you have zero references, but definitely far from impossible. So make your account as full as it might be – tell everything about you, post the most fabulous pictures from a voyage to Brazil or that safari in Tanzania. Ask your friends who already have CS accounts to write a personal reference to you, which would significantly increase your chance to get hosted (works exactly as LinkedIn references).
- GENDER MATTERS
Well, whether we want it or not, this is the fact, and we cannot do anything with that. Both ladies and gentlemen have their complications in using the service. Reality is that for girls it is two times as much easier to get the response from hosts. The reasons are pretty obvious, the major one is that it looks more secure to let the girl into your own house. Sometimes hosts put a restriction for hosting women only, and I actually never seen anybody preferring men as their guests. However, it is not correct to say that CS is a perfect place for girls. The sad truth is that there are PLENTY of guys who consider CS as Tinder. So, what has to be done by ladies are just two things – check thoroughly your future host, and keep in mind that even though Couchsurfing is relatively safe service, the security concerns are applicable to CS as well.
All the other tips – in the following blog.