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But what does couchsurfing even mean?
Do you dream of surfing on a couch? That's the translation of this practice!
That said, not sure if you would stay afloat…
Couchsurfing is quite simply in its less literal translation the fact of being able to sleep on a couch in someone's home in their country or on the other side of the world.
Couchsurfing is generally free, which makes it really different from Airbnb. It has developed a lot over the last few years and has aroused a lot of interests among travellers who want to meet people and travel at a lower cost from one end of the country to the other.
Going on a trip can be a source of stress, especially in the organisation, especially if you sleep at a local’s home, as you could see in our last battle between sleeping at the hotel or homesharing, but it remains a very appreciated practice.
<h2>Let's see what are the advantages of the practice itself:</h2>
Improving a language
When you go couchsurfing and go abroad you are hosted by a local person who does not necessarily speak your language. There is no other choice but to adapt by trying to communicate.
Of course, the language generally used is still English, which a large proportion of the guests manage to master to some extent. Enough of "Do you speak English?", it's time to make an effort! Otherwise there is always Google translate…
Meeting different worlds
Sleeping in someone’s home is also about sharing your daily life, discovering how a person lives, their culture, their habits etc. This applies just as much when travelling to the other side of the world as it does on the other side of France. It is also part of the good reasons why to travel solo.
Each person has his or her own little habits and being hosted by that person, it is up to you to adapt. You will certainly be surprised to see Tom hanging his drying clothes in the middle of the kitchen but after all it is a human adventure. Well, Tom I didn't want to have your Scooby Doo underwear under my nose during breakfast... but thanks for the accommodation.
Discovering places and events only locals know of
A great advantage of couchsurfing is that you share the daily life of a person. If this host is hosting you, it's because he or she often wants to share with you the best spots in his or her region. Go for it!
You'll discover the city outside of the tourist spots and access events that are usually only available to locals. A special festival, a campfire on the beach or a hike to a beautiful hidden waterfall - a whole bunch of activities that you wouldn't have taken part in if you hadn't met your host.
Learning about yourself and what's important to you
Couchsurfing is also about realizing what really matters to us. All the more so when you go on your own. Through discussions with our hosts or the local residents of our destination, we engage in conversations, we debate.
Maybe Marie has convinced you to work on a farm that you suddenly feel like leaving everything behind to become a shepherd. Or maybe this debate about “pain au chocolat” or “chocolatine”, which you didn't think was so important, finally seemed to you like the most important topic in the world when you started debating about it for hours with Katia.
In short, you will learn what you care about and what you want to develop, you will come back a changed person.
Making authentic encounters
The practice itself encourages sharing. Hosts wishing to open their doors to people are often motivated by the desire to share, as are travellers. This makes the meeting all the more authentic because we are immersed in the life of the host and by discussing we strengthen the bond that we can create with him.
You may find yourself spending the next Christmas at Annie's house, who became your super friend on your previous trip. What is certain is that you will remember each of your encounters, good or bad.
On most couchsurfing platforms the hosts are totally voluntary - they pay nothing to become a host and are not paid in return. It is a very authentic encounter because the hosts really want to share with their guest. It also allows anyone wishing to travel to save money on their stay by not paying for accommodation.
<h2>Couchsurfing is an incredible experience, however, it can also have its drawbacks:</h2>
Searching for a host can be time consuming
This is why many users wishing to travel send numerous requests without paying attention to what they write. A not very authentic first contact.
You want to travel but all your requests are unanswered or negative. What an idea to do it the day before for the next day. On the host side, if you prefer to host, it can also be a bit uncomfortable to finally realise that the intention of your potential traveller is only to find the last-minute accommodation and not to spend time with you.
Connects people who want to travel with a host but can't find the host for you.
La Voyageuse for example, is a platform where solo female travellers can contact trusted local women hosts, but they will not find them for you. You are free to send your requests to whomever you want but don't expect the platform team to do it for you (or she's too nice). If this is the case, remember to thank him or her by sending cookies.
Sometimes we don't hear from our guests at the last minute.
Looking for a host takes time but once you have found one, you may still have some problems, especially on Couchsurfing, which does not follow the correspondences between you and the host. You were ready to meet Stéphanie in Trouville-sur-mer (yes, it exists and it's actually very beautiful) but the day before your departure she cancels. You are forced to find a solution for a last-minute withdrawal.
Worse still, you are on your way out but your host doesn't answer you anymore. What should you do, go, even if it means meeting you outside or staying home safely?