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 a previous blog (check it here – https://bit.ly/2BG1OZc) I talked about the best money-saving tool during the trips – Couchsurfing. This post gives more insights of how to make it work in the best way possible.
- CUSTOMIZE THE REQUEST
Couchsurfing hosts are receiving dozens of requests weekly, and believe me – they got tons of featureless messages from all over the world. What you need is to customize your messages to different hosts. Of course, none of us would write it in a way like “Hey, what’s up, can I stay at your place for a next week?” (however, I saw messages like these), but it definitely should be a text that tells something about you. Always mention the name of the host so it would not look like as clear copy-paste. The best that you can do is to pick some fact or common interests from the bio and mention it in the request.
- KNOW YOUR HOST
It repeats in some way the point above, but to get the good host you should know his/her profile. In a previous post I was speaking about references; but besides them always go through the “About” section and “Home” section. It is a widespread practice to put a secret word or some question into the bottom of some of the section. This is the way how hosts check whether people do really read their profiles. Also it has some important information about the number of guests, gender preferences, etc.
- GET CONTACTS
Couchsurfing is a good hosting service, but it is definitely not a Facebook or Whatsapp. If you agreed to come to the town and drop a line to your host two hours before moving in, you might found yourself sleeping on the street (more about that – my previous blog https://bit.ly/2Q1ZLHN). The non-responding host happened to me several times, in Maine, Seattle and Cleveland, and in some cases it caused a huge problems to me. To avoid that – do only two things. Inform host a day before you come, confirming that everything is going on according to the plan, and get his/her contact information and address before the trip.
CS means that you are staying for free, and service rules prohibits asking money for accomodation. However, it is the done thing to say thank you in some simple way – like leaving a souvenir, taking some expenses for the joint meal, buying a beer for the night, etc. Again, it is not obligatory but it is always a good thing to do.
Besides being a good hosting service, CS is a good place just to find a company or an advice. If I really need an suggestion or help for a specific location – like some transportation tips – I leave a message in Discussions section. CS community is responsive, people are helpful and sometimes are happy to give you a ride/hang out/provide you a sleeping place. It is also a must-do thing if you have to submit the last-minute request but you are beyond the limit of sending them this week.
What else should you do if you take into account all aforementioned tips? Enjoy. Couchsurfing is an amazing experience. Thanks to that I met a huge number of really nice, weird, strange, interesting, funny and hilarious guys all over the world that were showing me the town, drinking with me, enjoying the horror movie nights, hanging out, giving me the ride, laughing with me and making my travel extremely bright and memorable. This is what CS is created for, and it would be sad to never use it in your life.