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Old 01-02-10, 05:24 PM
  #1  
ubermensch84
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couchsurfing.org

I have stolen so much knowledge from this forum but don't have any bike related experiences to give back quite yet, but CS is something I do know about so thought I'd share a little for those who don't know much about it

I did a search and was surprised that there has been little discussion of CS on here though I do know there are a lot of cycle tourist who use CS because they are primarily who turned me onto the idea of touring...

For those who don't know CS is basically a social networking site where people from around the world open up their homes to travelers. The accommodation is free but it is polite to cook up a meal or pay for dinner, or couple drinks at the bar etc as a token of your appreciation. I have used CS in 10 countries over about 80 nights and have hosted in LA as well though sadly I can't have guests right now though I wish I could!! I have had nothing but great experiences. It is really cool to stay in the home of a local and a much more authentic and intimate experience than staying in a hostel or hotel etc. They tell you places to go during the day, take you out at night generally, every experience is different obviously but it is meant to be a shared experience and you often leave having made a new friend. It is not just a free place to stay. I'm planning to do the TA this summer and hope to stay with a few people along the way. Personally, I wouldn't ask somebody to stay for one night and show up after a day of riding at 6pm and then leave in the morning, that is rude imo but some people are ok with it. I would plan off days around it and stay for a couple nights so you get to know them and their town...It is a really good resource for bicycle tourist open to meeting new people

There is another great aspect to CS that a lot of people not familiar with the site are generally not aware of and that is the events and group/city pages. Anybody is able to organize an event and they happen all over the world everyday both big and small. My friend in Budapest just organized a New Years Eve party with 5 days of activities and they were expecting about 700 people from all over the world for example. Most events are of the smaller variety and take place somewhere like a local bar, many of them being weekly meetings. So even if you prefer to stay in a hostel or hotel it is a great way to meet people in a place where you don't know anybody by attending events (Another advantage if you don't know the local language is that almost everybody at a CS meeting will speak English)--If nothing is planned for the night you will be in town and you want to socialize (especially solo travelers) you can post in a city group and ask if people are interested in having drinks somewhere or if anybody is interested in a hike, whatever; you could also message somebody individually if you find somebody who has common interest etc. Posting in the groups is also a great resource for finding things to do in the area. I've had many people offer to show me around their city for a day which is also great.


I'm not an ambassador to the site but it has given me sooo many positive experiences so I spread the word to other travelers whenever possible. Those who are intrigued by the idea but a little wary of either staying with strangers or letting them in their own home should know you don't have to jump right in, attending events in your local area or wherever you may be traveling is really the best introduction to the community and I think if you give it a try you will love it--I know I do
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Old 01-02-10, 05:41 PM
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nancy sv
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Couchsurfing is a great site! We've rarely stayed with people, but did host quite a few when we were home. What you'll find on this site is more talk about warmshowers.org - the same idea as couchsurfing but geared towards the bike tourist.
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Old 01-05-10, 02:35 PM
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Yeah well in my experience there is little similarity between CS and Warmshowers.

I found Warmshowers to be extremely valuable and you really do instantly have something in common with your hosts/guests. People are warm and friendly toward cycle tourists. Every contact I made (maybe 90% of requests) was quick to reply and usually offered more hospitality than I expected.

Reading CS, it seems to be set up for backpacker types who are young and hip. I am neither so that is probably why I wasn't successful in my SE Asia tour. I gave up after virtually every potential host (30% of requests) wrote back saying they were unavailalbe - even for a coffee and some information.

In my case I was a 62 year old male travelling alone. I probably would have had better results with some other configuration such as travelling with my wife.

CS is more widespread but Warmshowers is growing.
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Old 01-05-10, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiense View Post
Reading CS, it seems to be set up for backpacker types who are young and hip. I am neither so that is probably why I wasn't successful in my SE Asia tour. In my case I was a 62 year old male travelling alone. I probably would have had better results with some other configuration such as travelling with my wife.
Yeah. My experience in US. CS is geared more toward longer stays by people traveling by motorized transport, or as you noted, backpackers, and to a younger crowd. Age does have it's advantages, but also some disadvantages. We've had some great experiences with WS, including the privilege of hosting Nancy SV and her family. Cancelled my CS membership.
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Old 01-05-10, 03:28 PM
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I don't think CS is that active in SE Asia, not compared to other places at least. Another reason it may have been difficult to find a place to stay is if your profile is not built up. As you get a stronger profile it becomes much easier which is another reason going to events is good. It is true that the average CS'er is young (25 I believe) but there are a lot of very very active older people who host and surf easily. I have stayed with older people before and the most active CS'er I know is in his late 50's

Depends on your kind of trip, if you are cycling through rural areas than CS doesn't generally apply but if you are stopping in some bigger cities that you want to stay in for a few days then it makes no difference if you are on a bike or a backpacker. I met a ton of bikers who were couchsurfing in Eastern Europe and Turkey. Nobody in their right mind is going to ride past Istanbul without stopping for a few days, at least (Personally, I would never ask somebody to host me for more than 3 nights in my request)

When I meet couchsurfers we already have something in common because we both like to travel and/or are interested in other cultures. Plus I look for profiles I have other things in common with whether it be music, politics/philosophy, or something stands out to me. Then I write a personalized request which also makes it more likely they will host you and more likely we have stuff to talk about
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Old 01-05-10, 11:13 PM
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I've heard CS is as much a "hook-up" site for singles as it is mutual hospitality. I don't know if this is true, however.
 
Old 01-06-10, 07:52 AM
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I agree I have used it for staying and had guests at my home. All have been great experiences and met new friends, no problems at all.
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Old 01-06-10, 07:59 AM
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I am a warm showers host, but have not actually had anyone call.

So far I have not found that there were hosts in the places that I wanted to stay. On the mostly rural routes I have toured on potential warm showers or couch surfing hosts seem pretty few and far between.

Folks that I know who have actually managed to either host someone or be a guest said it was a positive experience.
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Old 01-06-10, 12:12 PM
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We joined warmshowers last spring and have hosted 3 couples (from Germany, NZ and Canada, in June/July and all have been great experiances mainly because we already have something in common. We still have contact with our guests.
We will be using warmshowers (if possible) this summer for our six month tour around southern Europe (details on our page).
We thought about couchsurfing but decided against at the last minute for the reasons stated above.
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Old 01-06-10, 12:34 PM
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I have used couchsurfing a great deal on my bike trips. In 2009, I stayed in San Luis Obispo, Ca, Lompoc, Ca, Petaluma, Ca, Eugene, Or, John Day, Or, and in 4 places in Switzerland. Some of my stays were 2 days, others only 1 day. I found all of them friendly, comfortable, and much better than a night camping or in a hotel. I find the couchsurfing site easy to use and the feedback from other members is a great way to find out about potential hosts and guests. It is my first choice for places to stay when I bike tour.

The idea that couchsurfing is mostly for under 25 year olds (which is probably true) is meaningless as you can search on age as one of the attributes on couchsurfing. I try to avoid asking young single women for places to stay. That said, my first couchsurfing experience in France was with a 20-year old woman living in a loft where we both slept in the room. I've never tried to use couchsurfing in Asia, but have had great success in the US and throughout Europe.

I am not a member of warmshowers.com because there has been feedback on these and other boards about some abusive visitors using that list.

Ray
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Old 01-06-10, 02:48 PM
  #11  
ubermensch84
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
I've heard CS is as much a "hook-up" site for singles as it is mutual hospitality. I don't know if this is true, however.
I would say that is not true. There are some people who have ulterior motives when they join the site but they usually do not last long. I stay with guys, girls, couples, it doesn't matter.If you are a girl and see a guy who only hosts girls that raises a red flag but most people are not like that. Do people sometimes hook up? of course, but most people active in CS are not in it for that reason even if they do end up partaking in said activities.

Realistically, I think most people are attracted because of the free lodging and stay because of the experiences
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Old 01-11-10, 11:24 AM
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I have used both WS and CS but found that CS has so many more members and a much more user friendly website and as a result have used that site a great deal more times. It has almost always been a fantastic experience, both hosting and being hosted. I highly suggest others try the site.
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