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The hardest thing on Couchsurfing.org is getting that first couch. It gets easier, bit by bit–people will gain confidence in you as you acquire positive reviews. In this post I’ll give you some tips on getting your first couch, as well as show you some successful examples for you as well!
Once you’ve filled out your profile, been verified, and found a friend to vouch for you, the first step to your first couch is sending out requests far and wide. The key is sending many, personalized request messages to new members, and being as flexible as possible.
Being flexible is about two things. First, you want to make it clear (again, if possible) that your time/date of arrival is negotiable. This creates a greater range across which people can accommodate you (e.g. If they’re out of town, or if they already have guests). Second, you should be looking outside of the main tourist destinations. Hosts living a block from Big Ben are going to have far more people requesting them than a host who lives a 20 minute train ride outside of the city.
What do I mean by personalized? You need to keep in mind the Couchsurfing philosophy, which discourages using the service as a way to simply save on hotel costs. You must take the time to read the profile of each person you’re writing to, find a key characteristic, and mention it in the e-mail. It creates a sort of pseudo-bond, an idea of humanity behind the cold text.
Finally, you want to find people in the same metaphorical boat as you. When you search for hosts, arrange the results so they show “Newest First.” These people will have the same level of credentials as you and are more likely to accept you as a surfer.
I went back through all my old Couchsurfing data and found that it took 15 individual requests for me to get my first couch. It only took 10 when I moved on to my next destination, then 9, and then, a little more than a month after I started Couchsurfing, with about a dozen positive reviews on my profile, I only sent 7 requests–all responded, 4 had guests already, and 3 of them accepted.
Here’s some examples of couch-requests I sent out that got the most successful responses (I’ve taken the names out and replaced them with initials–but you should always use a person’s name):
Hi C and L!
I’m a New Yorker travelling from London at the moment, hoping to spend some time in Paris. I’d be arriving tomorrow and staying until…well, I haven’t decided yet. So, any time you might be able to host me in the near future would be great. I’m definitely hoping to meet some people who have an inside perspective on Paris
I’m a New Yorker, backpacking around Europe, currently enjoying Rome. BUT I have a huge desire to go back to Paris for a few days (my favorite city in Europe so far–and I’ve seen most of them!).
I’ll be making my way up over the next two days, arriving on Sunday. I’d like to chill in Paris for about 3 days, if possible.
I’m a pretty flexible person, so if you want to hang out/show me around, that’s awesome, but if you’re busy that’s totally understandable.
Let me know what works for you!
P.S. I love unique cheeses and since I saw the movie Ratatouille I’ve always wanted to try it
I’m going to be travelling through Norway for the next couple of weeks and I was hoping to make it to the More-og-Romsdal area perhaps sometime this weekend.
I’ve never been to Norway, but I’ve always held a very strong affinity for the country, so I’m really hoping to spend some time with people who know the place!
Anyway, I’m fairly flexible with my plans, so let me know what works for you.