CouchSurfing is a travel site that matches travelers with a global network of people willing to share their homes. Their goal is to make travel richer by creating connections with people from different cultures. Travelers can stay with locals in every country on earth, allowing them to experience the world in a unique and meaningful way. CouchSurfing also allows people to join as hosts, so they can have travelers from around the world stay in their home with them.
CouchSurfing has hosts across the United States and throughout the world in more than 120,000 cities. Travelers can send a message to hosts through the CouchSurfing website. There is also a "Send CouchRequest" button on each host's profile, so guests can request specific dates and converse with the host. There are currently over 5 million hosts listed on CouchSurfing.
Reservations are made with each individual host. Guests can choose to send a message to their desired host to get to know them better before booking, or they can push the "Send CouchRequest" button to reserve a host's home during specific dates. Other benefits of CouchSurfing include:
Guest reviews are available on each host's profile. Both positive and negative reviews are welcome, giving members an honest picture of hosts and their homes. Hosts also have the ability to respond to reviews, so they can explain issues that may have been raised in negative reviews or simply thank guests for their positive reviews.
CouchSurfing has a mobile app available for iPhone and Android. The host profiles are very easy to browse and it also comes with a chat feature so users can talk with members of their community no matter where they are. They also have a mobile website very similar to their desktop site that can be easily viewed on all mobile devices.
There is a $25 fee to be a CouchSurfing member. While this price is not outrageous, it is inconvenient for those who would like to see their travel options before making a monetary commitment. Beside the initial membership cost, staying at host's homes is free. Other disadvantages include:
Additionally, there is no refund or cancellation policy. Since there is just a membership fee and guests are not charged to stay in host's homes, travelers have no need for refunds.
If you are a host, it's a bad bad idea. Couchsurfing is not good to it's hosts. The system is geared towards young Europeans (especially girls) who want to travel the world free..but only as guests. Today, 7 out of 10 Couchsurfing guests are freeloaders - they only surf, don't host, don't even bring a simple gift for their host, don't mean to make friends - don't keep in touch with their hosts after the visit, try and eat free frood from the host's apartment without buying the host any food in return etc. So if you are a host and want to practice exchange of stay - try other websites such as guesttoguest.com or homestay. Guesttoguest gives you virtual cash when you host which you can use to buy stay when you travel. It's a better way to travel free. You get rewarded for hosting, yet it's free!