Saxxxx - Couchsurfing is not a dating website

Since its inception in the early 2000s, Couchsurfing has been both praised and vilified.A network of travellers that does much what the name suggests – offers available spare rooms or couches for no cost- immediately presents innumerable perks and simultaneously, throws up flashing danger signs.

When you are using Couch Surfing to stay at someone’s house, I think it is very important to remember that you are staying at someone’s house.

Yes, you are using it as a place to stay for free temporarily, but it is not a free hotel.

Hosts should only offer what they are able to offer freely and clearly say what those things are in the Couch Information in their profile.

If there are some things, such as food for the Surfer or shared utility costs, that can't be offered unless the Couchsurfers agree to share the cost, this should be discussed between the Host and Surfer (but should never be a requirement for surfing with that Host).

The big question is, are these bad experiences the norm, or outliers that mar an otherwise wonderful network of travellers? Indeed, it can be in a genuine way; solid and long-term couchsurfing couples are very common.

As an avid couchsurfer for two years, I would have to say that there’s legitimacy to both sides. After all, you’re in a network with people who share a passion for travel, big hearts and interesting stories.Plan well ahead – finding a decent host, like anything else worthwhile, can take a lot of legwork.With thousands of registered couchsurfers, sifting the genuine from the opportunistic is hard work, and takes a keen eye and hard-won experience. Girls have previously written about their CS experiences here and here, both of which have great things to say about it. While I have made some great friends through the process, I’ve found that the larger it became, the less trustworthy and it was simply less work to find a cheap hostel to stay in, without the worry.That being said, I would not discount the experience: a large percentage of my travels would have been indescribably less rewarding without it.My good experiences did outweigh my bad ones; it really depends on your judgement, your budget and your willingness to balance openness with caution, which is a tricky art.For women especially, the wisdom of Couchsurfing has often been called into question.

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