Pay It Forward: Couchsurfing

I’ve owned my apartment for almost two years now, and in that time I’d never bothered to put furniture in the second bedroom.  It was basically just a big closet.  Well, a big closet with its own bathroom!

This summer, when I was backpacking in Eastern Europe, I was surprised by how many people I met who were including some segments of Couchsurfing in their trip.  Lots of people were mixing it up with hostels, hotels and strangers’ couches.  I was also surprised by how many people were inviting me into their homes… including entire apartments that were smaller than my unfinished guest room!

So, when I returned home after my summer holidays I checked my post-trip finances and realized that I could easily afford to furnish my second bedroom.  A trip to the mattress store, a Saturday waiting for delivery, a trip to Ikea, a trip to Walmart and a little help from a friend in putting on the bedskirt and suddenly I had a proper second bedroom.  So I logged into my old-but-unused Couchsurfing profile and changed my couch status to “yes”.

I know my house isn’t in the best location, but it does have nice views and it’s easy to access via public transportation.  That, combined with the luxury of having a brand-new guest room all to yourself, would surely make the couch requests start pouring in, right?  Wrong.  In one month I’ve only had two couch requests, and neither seemed like a good match for my first surfer.  So finally I checked the “open couch requests” section, where people can request a couch to the whole community, and saw another new user who was looking for a couch.  I contacted her, and I should have my very first guest this Friday!

So, what tips do you have for me as I prepare?   I was storing some personal stuff in that room so I put it all in nice boxes labeled with my name so the guests don’t think they’re for guest use.  I hung an Ikea Skubb closet organizer in the closet with guest towels and guest toiletries (saved from many hotel visits).  I put a decorative pillow with a picture of a map on the bed!  I even put the house key on a Canada-themed lanyard!

What else should I do to get ready for my first couchsurfer?  I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

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5 responses to “Pay It Forward: Couchsurfing

  1. oh wow – lol. first of all you need one hundred percent faith in your couchsurfers. I’m living in a single appartement with just one room and everything I owe is in there. I work a lot, so my couchsurfers get a key. of course, hosting someone for the first time… I understand your thoughts. but just check out his/her profile very carefully and do it! be open for everything and enjoy!

  2. some info on what to do and what to see in your area will be appreciated

  3. What a great idea!!!

  4. Josh here from the BlinkPack blog. Just wanted to say that I am enjoying your blog and looking forward to following it. I love to travel, but have some serious time and budget restrictions — this is how I found your blog and why I write mine. Cheers!

  5. I am very interested to speak to people who have used CouchSurfing and/or AirBNB as part of some research I am doing. Please contact me via twitter: @LiezlHesketh if you would like to share your experiences.

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