My first experience as a Couchsurfing guest

Jon and I have hosted many Couchsurfing guests in our apartment in San Francisco, but I had never stayed with a host before I went to Kiev. In fact, I originally hadn’t planned to spend time outside of Kiev proper. But my first host Andrey contacted me after he saw a public trip I’d posted about when I’d be in Kiev and offered to host me for as long as I wanted in a small city about 1 hour and 15 minutes outside of Kiev called Malyn. Going with my sense of adventure, I agreed to be his guest for two days.

Couchsurfing logo

What is a public trip?

On Couchsurfing, you can create public trips to show other members what city you’ll be in and what dates you will be there. It lets people (locals or other visitors) know about visitors who want to hang out or need a place to stay. Members can send you a private message to offer a couch, to express interest in meeting up, or to say hello.

How do you decide who to accept?

Now, I don’t recommend blindly accepting every hosting offer you get. In cities like Istanbul and Marrakech, I got dozens of offers. However, I have to evaluate the trustworthiness of potential hosts before I agree to enter someone’s home, especially as a solo female traveler. Here’s what I look at:

  • How does their profile make me feel? If it’s empty or is unable to give me a good sense for who they are, then I pass on the offer. More rarely, I might pass on someone with a descriptive profile if their interests have no compatibility with mine.
  • Does the member have any references? What do other people say about them? If the member has no references at all or any negative references, I’ll pass.
  • Is the member verified? This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but if they’re verified, that means they care enough about being a member of the Couchsurfing community that they’ve contributed a small monetary amount to the cause. Some people may not be able to afford it or have other reasons for not being a verified member.

How was your first experience as a guest?

I’ll cover the details of the time Andrey and I spent together in two other posts, but overall, it was a great experience. It really demonstrates the goodness of humanity and boosts your faith in your fellow human beings.

Written on July 30, 2016