How to Impress Your Host: 10 Steps to a Perfect CouchSurfing Profile

Have you ever wondered why your pleas for a couch to sleep on aren’t returned? Do you feel doomed to travel without the privilege of a free night’s accommodation and the pleasure of great local company?

Do me a favour. Log into your profile and give it a read over. If someone contacted you with a profile like yours, would you let him into your home? C’mon, be honest.

What is This CouchSurfing Business?

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’ve probably at least heard murmurs of this phenomenon known as “couch-surfing”. Internet-based communities like HospitalityClub (HC) and CouchSurfing (CS) allow wanderers and armchair travelers alike to interact in the real world.

The benefits are numerous: local knowledge, good conversation, free accommodation, new friends, and sometimes even a personal guide.

Point of interest: check out this site if you’re curious how many people in each country belong to either CS or HC.

Two guys standing on an old couch
Couch Surfing © Mhogan35

Makeover Your Profile

As a host myself, I’ve seen the gamut of profiles and know in an instant if I should consider someone as a guest. Certain things set off alarm bells in my head. A strong profile and a nice inquiry will give me a good gut feeling about a traveler.

If you are competing with other backpackers for the same time slot on someone’s couch, you’ll want to stand out. Here are ten tips to be more eye-catching than Pamela Anderson in a pillow fight (if you’re a lass, substitute David Beckham in a banana hammock):

#1: Be Funny

Ha-ha/LOL funny, not strange funny. Being humorous and light will put the potential host at ease. After all, have you ever met a mass murderer who made you laugh?

#2: Be Detailed

The more personal info you provide the better. You will be less mysterious and, again, help put the host at ease. If I can’t get a feel for who the person is and what she’s about, chances are she won’t make it to my couch.

#3: If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It

Do you have the skills to pay the bills? Maybe your special talent can help you in landing some accommodation. I recently hosted a French chef who cooked up an amazing three-course meal for my wife and me. Of course, it wasn’t a requirement of ours, but my interest was certainly piqued after reading about his kitchen abilities.

#4. Showcase Your Openness to Other Cultures

Share examples of the places you’ve visited, how you’ve interacted with the locals and how it’s affected you. Can you appreciate and accept the differences in other cultures, even if they go against your personal beliefs?

#5: Be Trustworthy

In each community, there are ways to go about this. Comments and references from fellow travelers are important to potential hosts. Furthermore:

  • In HC, there is an option for Trust (if you can be trusted) and Identity Checked (if your passport was verified). Having one or both ticked off in your comments will go a long way. Make sure anyone commenting on your profile uses the relevant choices.
  • For a small fee, you can have CS verify your identity. Along with verification, you will also be supporting the non-profit organization. Another CS security measure is Vouching. Get vouched for to increase your odds.

#6: Don’t Use Pictures Other than Yourself for Your Profile

An image of George Costanza in his underwear or a baboon face might be funny to your friends, but it won’t be to a host. Your smiling mug will go a lot farther in securing a couch.

To take that another step, use a travel shot with a picturesque background. A driver’s license or passport picture will just make you look like a psycho.

#7: Be Active in the Community

Keep your profile up to date. Log in frequently. If there is a forum, go give someone helpful tips. You get what you give.

Mosaic of traveler\'s photos
© dichohecho

#8: Be Interesting

The fact that you’re traveling already puts you in this boat. But to stand out, talk about your interests and hobbies. If you play an instrument, you may be more attractive to another musician or someone who just loves music.

#9: Make the First Impression a Good Impression

On your first message to the potential host be kind, courteous and thoughtful. Don’t send an abrupt one or two-line email. Before you hit the Send button, give it a proofread and make sure your message actually makes sense.

And one more thing: sty awy frm SMS-styl splng, u knw wht i mn?

#10: Do Some Hosting Yourself

No one likes a freeloader. If you have a history of three years of surfing other couches, and haven’t returned the favour to any extent, you may raise some eyebrows. Prove you’re not just a taker.

It is well worth your time and effort to ensure you have the best possible shot. The stories that come out of couch surfing are ones you will want for yourself.

One of my most memorable travel experiences was crashing on a couch in Petrozavodsk in Russia. A night of revelry with our host and his friends culminated in an authentic Russian banya experience, complete with besom beatings.

Now go read over your profile again. Start from scratch if you have to. It may be the difference between the opportunity of a lifetime or bunking in a rat-infested hostel!

12 Responses

  1. Carlo

    Thanks for that! And thanks for making me aware of the TFT site too! I will make sure to sign up and check it out. Cheers.

    Reply
  2. Marco van de Kamp

    No problemo. Next week I am planning to launch a forum on TFT. You could place your helpful tips if you sign up. Mail me your profile, so we can be TFT friends.

    Reply
  3. Troy

    Tip #10 should be required reading for all potential surfers. Most seasoned Csurfers I know won’t even look at your profile twice if you haven’t tried hosting first…

    Reply
  4. Shreya

    This is great Carlo, I usually meet C-surfers in my city for coffee, but I’m traveling soon and will probably be surfing some couches — thanks much for the tips!

    Reply
  5. Jessica

    These are good tips – especially the one about sending thoughtful and well-crafted requests. I’ve spent this entire year couchsurfing through Europe with my fiancé, and I’m already excited to start hosting people when we return to NYC.

    Reply

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