Six Habits of Highly Effective Couchsurfers

It’s summer in Amsterdam—high couchsurfing season, which translates into 10+ daily requests for me and my couch. Most of these requests ignore basic couchsurfing principals and get template responses from me. Guests I accept seem to have a great time, if 100+ positive references are any indication. To help more surfers understand how to better land a couch, I’m re-posting this updated story.

UnClogged in Amsterdam

Bunking up on a stranger’s couch in a foreign city is trickier than staying with familiar folk. In addition to basic etiquette, here are six habits to master before you send out that first request through www.couchsurfing.org.

Giny + her brother-in-law Markus from Austria, two of my favorite guests. Jiny + her brother-in-law Markus from Austria, two of my favorite guests.

Since opening my home to couchsurfers more than two years ago, I’ve welcomed 200+ strangers from around the globe to my Amsterdam apartment. My guests have included singles, couples, friends traveling together, mother-child duos and even a baby—adorable five-month-old Layla, who arrived wide-eyed from Paris with her Argentinean parents. While most have been 20-something students and 30-ish professionals, I’ve also hosted retirees and empty-nesters in their 50s and 60s, many searching for renewal in the second half of life.

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5 comments

  1. Hi Melissa! I feel like this blog was somewhat hinting at me since I just asked for a couch request 🙂 I’m glad you re-posted this because as a inexperienced couch surfer I can definitely benefit from this even though, honestly speaking, these habits correlate with my idea of what CS should be, so I am not that shocked! You just know how to clearly put them in words. I also took a peak at your other posts, and just to say I’m really impressed by how much you know about Amsterdam! It shows that it is really a second home for you, but you always continue learning because each day is a new one – this is how I’ve felt about my year abroad in France – there is always something to discover, whether it’s the people you pass by in the metro, or in a old French recipe or tradition I could only learn from those who have experienced it many years ago. We are really looking forward to our time in Amsterdam with you – I saw you’ve already tasted some French meals like the quiche Lorraine! If there is something you’d like to try, we’ll cook it up for you! 🙂 Thanks again. My sister Laurin and BF Paul are next on the list to comment so be on the look out!
    Talk soon,

    Brittany Sneller

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    • Hi Brittany,
      Like you, I’ve discovered that the best education is outside the classroom, which is why I want to establish a scholarship fund for students who want to travel but can’t afford to. See you soon!

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  2. It’s very exciting to hear about all the others you have hosted and how much you have learned just from having those experiences. I cannot wait to share our lives with you and hear more about your life and all of the amazing things you have done when me and my friend Sam arrive on Saturday! The more of your blog posts I read the more excited I get come there!! Cannot wait to meet you.
    – Mary –

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  3. What you are doing is amazing. I was really sceptical about CS until I visited the blog. Opening the doors of your home and your heart for so many people is so generous from your. There are so many people and especially students who love to see Amsterdam but it’s hard for them to afford it. I really thank you for doing this.
    And having in mind your knowledge about the country and your experience which must be adventurious, it’s great to know Amsterdam through your perspective.

    Lots of love,
    Blerta

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  4. Hi Melissa! This is a great post and so highly apt (given that I’m completely new to couchsurfing and just sent you a couchsurfing request). I am so glad that I got to read it because it definitely gives me a lot of information into the whole spirit of couchsurfing and the kind of invaluable experiences couchsurfing entails if one knows how to be a good guest. I think a lot of people have the preconceived notion that couchsurfing is just a cheap alternative to a hostel and they simply desire a place to crash just for a night. It’s easy to take for granted the altruism that their hosts provide them and completely miss the whole point of couchsurfing, of engaging in genuine interaction with their hosts and getting the opportunity to form a meaningful friendship during their stay there. After reading this post I am more aware now of the importance of being open-minded and flexible, because any host has no obligations to take you around anywhere yet he or she is still taking the time off to do so. At the end of the day, it’s a give and take situation; guests can’t go in expecting not to contribute anything (whether tangible or intangible) and expect otherwise from their hosts.Thank you for the insightful read! 🙂

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