I got to know people as well as new cities using couchsurfing a decent amount of times and also have hosted myself. While surfing I often received the reply ‘Wow, haven’t gotten such a nice request in quite some time!’, yet there was nothing too special I did. On the opposite end, when I was available to host, I really got annoyed by some requests that just seemed to be those copy&paste messages of people I – for some reason – don’t feel a connection with.
In the following post I want to explain you how you can get the same positive response to your request in just 5 simple steps. In this context, I invite you to reconsider your way of approaching potential hosts and maybe even the way you perceive couchsurfing as a whole.
Of course it is going to take some time and effort. But the thing you should always bear in mind is that you want a complete stranger to accept you with open arms into his/her own precious home. Couchsurfing is a platform that is all about trusting people (and all the beautiful moments that it let’s you experience through this).
When getting a couch request, I personally take a look at the completion of each of the following steps to decide to accept or decline the request. The post is designed for beginners as well as people who just want to confirm they are doing everything alright. You might wonder about the relation between some steps and the request, but I can tell you, it’s all part of the deal. So even if you think a point might be irrelevant, at least skim it, so you know you haven’t forgotten any important detail.
⭐️ 1 – Fill out your couchsurfing profile.
Perceive your profile as a portfolio in an application process. You are ‘applying’ for a couch and the portfolio is full of information about yourself, your way of life and your ideology. It is nothing worse than incomplete application documents. Let your prospective hosts know who you are!
Remember that you want strangers to open their doors for you.
Even though Couchsurfing might show you statuses such as ‘Profile 95% complete’, it does not mean your profile is close to being complete. A good profiles fulfills at least these criteria:
- A profile pic where you are visible, you and only you, not your dog, not a beautiful landscape. The picture thus preferably shows your face in a close-up.
- Fill out every section that is there to fill out. Don’t skimp on words. I have never seen a profile that annoyed me because it was too long!
- Include some pictures that tell your story. That could be holiday snaps or maybe even pictures from your last couchsurfing experience.
⭐️ 2 – Get yourself some references.
I personally do not accept people who have no references, mostly for safety reasons. When I just started using Couchsurfing, I asked two of my real-life-friends who have couchsurfed before to write me a reference. In this way people are assured I am a trustworthy being.
Note that those friends should already have proper references from earlier couchsurfing experiences. I usually check out the person who left the reference on the profile. If there is only a reference linking back to the profile of the person who sent the request, I will not accept. If your friends will however have more good references, I am willing to give you a try!
Another way to get references is to help hosting when some of your real-life-friends have a couchsurfer over. In this way, that couchsurfer can leave you a short reference at the end of his/her stay too.
If you don’t have any friends that are active on Couchsurfing, just join some of the couchsurfing meet-ups and socialize there. You can then ask people to write you a reference. (Or write a reference for people to whom you have talked for some time, i.e. you have some content you can mention in their references, and hope they return the favour.)
⭐️ 3 – Choose prospective hosts carefully.
Look for people whose profiles you can connect to or whose personalities are similar to yours. Take into account that people with many references will get tones of requests every day and might not be likely to reply.
To find suitable hosts I normally use the search function to look for hosts that might more probable match my type. I personally look for keywords such as “vegetarian” or “hitchhiking”.
If you found someone who looks interesting, make sure to read the whole profile.
Check the details of your stay:
- How many people can be hosted? Do not ask for more people than stated in ‘max number of guests’.
- Which gender can be hosted? If there is written only girls, hosts will have their reasons for that.
- Are there any hidden words or phrases that need to be included in the request to show that you have indeed read your host’s profile?*
⚠ Be on the safe side:
Check the references of your prospective host: Any negative references?
Especially as a solo travelling girl you should be suspicious if your prospective host is a boy and has only hosted women so far.
⭐️ 4 – Write a personal couchsurf request
The most important thing to remember when writing couchsurfing requests is quality before quantity.
- First of all, address people with their name.
- Let them know what you liked about their profile, in which points you connect with each other or which things you have in common. [This is the most important part of a request!] Don’t be shy to tell them what impressed you, what you could teach them or, the other way round, what you would like to learn from them.
- Assure them that you keep the house as you’ll find it (if, in fact, that’s what you’re planning to do; otherwise: please don’t use couchsurfing…)
- In return for them letting you stay at their place, suggest to cook or bake for them, or – if that’s not your thing – invite them for a beer?
- *Remember to include possible hidden words.
⭐️ 5 – Bonus: You have hosted someone else before!
If you can show some hosting experience, you are already a favourite. This conveys the impression that you internalise the values of couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is all about giving and taking.
You might wonder how you can get couchsurfers to come to your home. That’s actually not too difficult: There are always people looking for hosts through a public request (see “Travelers Looking for Hosts” on the dashboard). Just invite them over!
⛔️ Let’s look at a negative example.
Finally, I want to show you a request I really got – to demonstrate what you should NOT do.
“Hi, together with a friend I’m on my way to Italy. We planned to stay at an Airbnb but it was cancelled just now, without reason. So now I’m desperately looking for a place to sleep for tonight. We will be leaving tomorrow morning early. Looking forward to you response, [requestor’s name]”
- There is no personal form of address, meaning this is a standard mass message sent to everyone.
- His/her AirBnB got cancelled and no other hotel/hostel in the city has a place for the night?! Apparently he/she is only looking for a free place to stay.
- He/she needs a place to stay for the night and he/she will leave tomorrow early morning. Hmm… 🤔 This confirms that the person only wants a free place. Apparently the surfer is not interested in interacting with the host him/herself (exchanging stories, politics, ideas, etc.).
- This message does not state why the person wants to meet the host (,which again underlines he/she wants a free bed.)
Conclusion: I declined the request. Never do something like this!
✅ A good example.
Want to know how a good couchsurf request may look like? Let’s look at one I got:
I’m Sebastian. I’m originally from Sydney, Australia but I’m currently living in Prague. I’m currently in Heidelberg after having been in Mannhein and to say the least I’m absolutely in love with this region of Germany. For that reason I’m planning on leaving to Karlsruhe next, arriving on the 9th of August and leaving on the 11th. It would really mean a lot if I could have a place to stay for that time. I could help improve/practice your English, even though you probably speak fairly meticulously in any case 🙂 To say the least I was completely taken aback by your profile. I believe our philosophies align quite similarly. I also strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. I was very fascinated by your political interests, including that what covers nature and living as sustainably as possible – it greatly interests me and I absolutely dream of trying something like what the guy in America (the one with whom you couchsurfed) has done. Even though I’m not the best cook I could try cook you a meal if you wanted. I would love to meet a resident of the city there and to be able to see how life operates in Karlsruhe. I feel we will have fairly similar life philosophies but at the same time enough differences to share and learn.
Anyway, I hope I’m not asking too late, but it would mean the world to have a couch to surf while I’m in Karlsruhe 🙂
I look forward to hearing from you and Umar,
- Do you see how much longer the request is?
- Do you notice how he personally addressed me and tried to build a relation?
- He mentioned some things that are important for me in my life and linked them to his life.
- He offered to improve my English and to cook a meal. (He eventually did both.)
- At the very end he mentions my boyfriend’s name with whom I am living together. Now how did he know that? Very simple: he read my home section.
By now you should have gotten a more detailed picture of how to make a good first impression in your next couchsurfing request. Did you comply with all five stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️? Then your next request should be … u n d i s m i s s i b l e !
I hope I could help you write a better couchsurf request. Don’t despair, there is not ‘one’ perfect couchsurf request. Just be creative and honest.
PS: Looking forward to hearing how it worked out! Let me know below in the comments ⤵ or subscribe to get more tips and tricks about travelling right to your inbox!