Couchsurfing : Pros and Cons #AtoZChallenge

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian BloggersCouchsurfing _ Pros and Cons

I first heard about Couchsurfing when I met a guest at my sister’s Bread & Breakfast. He’s an avid backpacker and has travelled the world. And then few days later, I met a co-passenger in a train and we got talking. She shared about her experiences with Couchsurfing too. 

Couchsurfing is something that wouldn’t interest all travelers, including me, but it is something that has taken the backpacking traveler’s world by storm. So let’s look at the pros and cons of Couchsurfing.

But before we get there, let’s see what exactly is Couchsurfing.

Simply put, Couchsurfing is finding FREE accommodation on a stranger’s couch or spare room while traveling. Couchsurfing is a community website where you can create a profile to tell fellow members about yourself, and then use that to:

  • Get free accommodation in a local’s home (traveler),
  • Host a traveler in your home (host), or
  • Meet and connect with people from around the world (community member).

The concept is an excellent one, especially for budget travelers and is a great way to explore the world. But it’s not always perfect. Before you give in to wanderlust, it is imperative that you consider the pros and cons of Couchsurfing.

Things You Should Know About Couchsurfing Before Exploring It!

Pros of Couchsurfing

  • Affordability. Couchsurfing gets you free accommodation. So, you save a lot on hotel accommodation expenses which is a large fixed cost for travelers. All you have to do is may be help the host in some chores or look after his pet in my co-traveler’s case and leave with a gift.
  • Live like a local. The best way to explore a new city is through the eyes of a local. When you stay with a local you can skip the touristy trap and explore the real flavor of the city. From city’s highlights to hidden gems, from street food to home dinners, you get it all by connecting with your local host.
  • Meet fascinating people with broad interests.

Cons of Couchsurfing

  • Questionable comfort and privacy. As the name suggests, you will be getting a couch (or something like that) and the comforts may not be that of a hotel. Also you will have to abide by the house rules and the timings and schedules of the host. For instance, my co-passenger shared that she had to leave by 7 am and could come back by 10 pm as the host had a change in his schedule.
  • Safety. Though the website has a stringent verification process and references can be checked too, but you are staying with a stranger. Period. There are a lot of horrific stories including theft and sexual advances.

Couchsurfing isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely a practical alternative for travelers on a tight budget and those traveling in pairs. You need to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision, and of course, always put safety first.

Have you experienced the fun and adventure of Couchsurfing? Would you explore it in the near future?

My theme for this year’s Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is Notes from the Road, which has my thoughts, views, experiences, tips, stories inspired by my years on the road.


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  1. I’ve also heard of couch surfing and it may be quite ok for a back packer though the cons may be real as you say Shilpa. Unless one can get more detail from the host beforehand? Like what is expected of me in return?

  2. This is really a new term for me Shilpa, I had never heard about it, and it is great that with your series I am learning really new things everyday. thanks for sharing. here is my C post, as “case taking in homeopathy”

  3. I had vaguely heard of this concept before, and while it does sound interesting, I don’t think it’s for me. I am simply too paranoid about safety inspite of the reference check etc.

    • I know what you mean, Shantala. I would feel the same too.
      Though their focus is on trust and safety, but still mishaps do happen!

  4. Wow, not my kind of thrill, but definitely sounds thrilling! I think I wouldn’t do it outside my own country/culture because it’s hard enough remembering local customs and laws.

    • Agree with you, it isnt for everyone. But there are numerous people who love this style of traveling and have some extremely positive experiences.

  5. Never heard of this.. But interested to know more on this. Very informative for people who love to travel. C is for change. Do have your say on my post for a change. 🙂 have a nice day!

    • I understand your view point. You mustn’t do it if you arent comfortable, for safety comes first. But I want to share that while I was researching for this post, I came across a lot of Indian women hosting couchsurfers. There are quite a few who host only foreigners and some only women!

  6. I have travel blogger friends who are couchsurfers. On a couple of occasions, they had even asked me to host. They are not members of couchsurfers website but they use Facebook and Twitter to ask people from that region to host them. I am loving your posts Shilpa.

    • Yes, through local networks also people host other couchsurfers. Thanks Balaka, glad you are enjoying this theme. 🙂

  7. I got to know about it a month ago from one of my friends. I too was skeptical and still am like the cons you have mention about safety issue despite reading good reviews. Luckily my friend had a lovely experience and she even cooked Indian cuisine for the host.

    • It’s wonderful that your friend had a positive experience. You know every year supports 400,000 Hosts and 4 Million Surfers. Since so many people are associated with it, there must be something good in it. So, yes, it might not work for people who are very cautious and look for privacy on a vacation, this concept is working for a LOT of people.

    • Oh yes, couchsurfing is very much there in India. There are some 357,491 hosts registered on the couchsurfing site in India. It is operating in a big way in the 4 metro cities along with Pune and Hyderabad. Of course, there are couchsurfing hosts all over the country.

  8. I have heard of this concept but the term is new to me. Sounds interesting but as you rightly pointed out there is definitely an element of risk involved .

    • Couchsurfing is an interesting concept and you know it started in 2004!! Though the safety of members is the company’s top priority, but one has to weigh their pros and cons before going for it!

    • I prefer AirBnB too, simply for it has almost all the comforts of a hotel with the added benefit of getting the local flavor.
      Thanks Kalpana!

  9. The only way I heard about couchsurfing is from a girl I met at a festival. Since she used to go around fastival with her stall, she often used couchsurfing to save on costs. She said it was generally ok, but she occasionally had problems. For example, when I met her, she had learned only the day before arriving that the gilr who had offered her couch had to back of for a personal problem.
    I suppose this are the inconvenient of informal accomodations.

    • Yeah, there can be some inconveniences with this kind of set up. Thanks for sharing your friend’s experience, Sarah!

  10. That does sound risky, no doubt. But, I am sure there must be quite a many adventurous souls who don’t mind giving it a try. They not only save money, but also learn more about the place and its people. And, also a lot about themselves!

    • Oh yes, it is a thriving and there are a lot of takers for couchsurfing! True, it helps you learn not only the local culture and people but helps you to realize your capabilities and about yourself in general as well.

    • Oh, it is here in India as well. As I mentioned earlier, there are some 357,491 hosts registered on the couchsurfing site in India. It is operating in a big way in the 4 metro cities along with Pune and Hyderabad. Of course, there are couchsurfing hosts all over the country.

  11. I’ve heard of couchsurfing and like the idea. A friend of mine does it regularly–it is cheap and as long as one’s part of the network, there are recommendations and it can be safe. But yes, for the uninitiated, it can be scary. Interestingly, my friend’s first experience was terrible.
    So the trick is to interact and network.
    It is a masssssssive network! 🙂

    • Yes you are absolutely right, it works on recommendations and there is a vast network of hosts and travelers all over the world. In fact they have a lot of events to meet and connect with fellow couchsurfers.

  12. As fascinating as this sounds, I’m sure I’ll never be up for it.

    One experience in an Air BnB place at Mumbai, ruined the whole concept of sharing others homes for me, let alone a couch 😛

    • I know what you mean, Soumya. Our first experience at a AirBnB wasnt great as there was a big difference between the pics on the site and reality. But it has been great after that. If the quarters are separate from the hosts, I am still ok with BnB but staying with them and that too on a couch is a big NO for me as well.

  13. This is really an interesting concept. Never heard of it before but it sounds like a good idea. Good to know about it through your post.

  14. Maybe it’s because of my introversion but I could never do couchsurfing. I’m glad it exists as it makes travel more affordable (and I do wish everyone could travel more) but it’s not for me.

    • True that. This idea does not appeal to everyone, but is ideal for backpackers and people who travel in twos.

  15. shilpa I have no idea about this:) living in a comfort zone It will take a lot of courage from my side to go for this kind of arrangement. I am frightened of this option, as I keep hearing a lot of problems women face, as a women i may not take this as an option in my travel. It makes me feel very insecure.

    • Yes, it is a scary proposition for most of us. But I want to share that there are a lot of women hosts who host only women travelers. So, with reference and recommendations check, one can explore this option of travel as well.

  16. This is a new concept that I have come across in your post. I hope I am able to experience it some time in life. For now, it is planned trips with hotel bookings done. It is the best way to ensure a comfortable trips with kids.

    • It might not work out with kids. Only when you are traveling solo or as a couple. Hope you get to explore this concept sometime soon, Anupriya 🙂

  17. This was the first time that learnt about Couchsurfing. Wish it was prevalent some 20 years ago.
    Taking due care while selecting the couch / host, I believe the lone travelers on budget could make the most of Couchsurfing.

    • Yes, checking out profiles and references is a must. And it works like a charm for backpackers and budget travelers.

  18. I’ve had one person from couchsurfing and it was nice. I’m more of an introvert so the concept does not suit me but with the Net today one can confirm details about the guest. I’m not sure I would stay as guest – I like privacy.

    • Wow! So nice to know that you have hosted a couchserfer, Gita! I know, it isnt for everyone and especially if we are looking for comforts and privacy on a vacation!

  19. I would be more prone to hosteling or camping, but an occasional couchsurf or some such is worth it. Then again, I am a man in late middle age, so the sexual advance aspect is not very likely to present a problem.