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April 20, 2010



Really useful post. Couchsurfing can be a mind field when starting out. I recommend hosting surfers in your own home before you go off travelling. We hosted four wonderful people - it was amazing how instantly they felt like friends. This has put us more at ease about trying surfing ourselves, as well as building up some references.

My questions: how do you choose a host? In big cities there are so many that it's overwhelming. Also, we don't plan our next move too far in advance, but what's the minimum notice you should give potential hosts?

Thanks for the useful advice Leigh!


Fantastic post. I've only hosted and now that I'm going to Europe for three weeks, I'd love to feel more comfortable being hosted. But oh.... how do you ask someone if you can stay on their couch. It still feels hard to do.

Erin's questions are interesting, too. How much notice do you give a host. Personally, I wouldn't normally commit to hosting someone too far in advance because my life gets pretty hectic and I never know if I'll be here or in the States. I'm more likely to say yes when it's a last-minute thing and the person has a profile that tells me we'll get along. As far as choosing from among the numbers... I may have to comment on that when I get back from Europe and have given it a try.

Anyway... as always, thanks for the thought-provoking post, Leigh.

Leigh Shulman

Hey Erin,

Thanks for your ideas and questions.

Big cities are tricky because while there are many more hosts, they're often so inundated with couch requests they tend to be a lot pickier.

How far in advance? The short answer to that question is it depends. Depends on the host, the city, the host's schedule at any given time.

As for me? What tends to work best is when people give me a basic idea of when they think they'll be in town. Then I keep that general time period open for them. Potential surfers will often check in as their dates get closer, but ultimately, I don't really need more than a day or two notice bf someone stays.

As for the rest, I've already started writing a post to address your questions more fully.

(And feel free to let me know whenever you're coming to Salta. Our couch is pretty open right now from beginning of May onward)

Leigh Shulman

Thanks, Angela. I always appreciate your comments!

Ok, since you're on Couchsurfing, you should definitely let me know your profile name. We've met. I'm more than happy to add you as a friend and write a reference.

Also, I know quite a few people in Europe, so I can definitely suggest some hosts for you depending where you're going.

More soon on how to choose hosts in big cities. And how do you go about asking (short answer: you just do it). Long answer coming soon.


I've known for awhile now that I'm interested in being involved in couchsurfing (mainly providing people with a place to stay), but I had no idea it was so involved. I should probably hop on soon and get my profile rolling.

Can I add you as a friend? I'm not online-only!


Leigh- thanks for such an informative post. I admit, being new to couchsurfing many of these seemingly obvious things escaped me. My profile on couchsurfing is TravelingSavage. I don't have any friends on CS so your first point makes me concerned about finding a host. I suppose I naively thought things would come together quite easily.

It sounds like there's a bit of pre-travel work toward building up your profile so that in the weeks leading up to your trip potential hosts won't turn you down outright due to minimal friends/vouches/etc. Is that right?

Thanks again!

Guy McLaren

I have a couch or a mattress in Nelspruit South Africa, just bring beer and great conversation


I can vouch for Leigh's abilities on Couchsurfing. She consistently hooks our family up with interesting and insightful people both to host and to stay with. At the beginning I was skeptical about the whole thing but have come to really enjoy and look forward to each new experience. Thanks Leigh... You ROCK!


Thanks Leigh - I´ll look forward to your next post. We are staying in Buenos Aires an extra month, so we probably won´t get to Salta until June now, but we´d love to stay with you so I´ll keep in touch.

Kickass Adventuring with Kids


You know the world of couchsurfing from a family perspective...how realistic is it for a family with three kids under age 6?

Leigh Shulman

Absolutely add me! We work together AND we've met in person.

My main thing is I don't want to start adding all the travel bloggers I know. Not because I don't want a connection with them, but because the CS connection is a bit different than other social media outlets.

There are quite a few people I'm friends with on FB, but many of them are more business oriented connections. I would have no way of knowing who they are personally. If that makes sense?

Leigh Shulman

There is a fair amount of pre-work to do on CS, but also keep in mind, every host is different. As Guy says below, he's happy with beer and good conversation.

It definitely helps to have solid friends and references, but even if you have just a few, that's fine. Coupled with a well put together profile that reflects who you are and you make your chances of finding a host infinitely easier.

But I certainly couldn't say this is a set in stone rule that can never be broken. If you don 't have time to meet people before you leave on your trip, it doesn't hurt to send out a couch request anyway. You never know how people will respond.

Leigh Shulman

Well said, Guy. Every host wants something different.

I laid out what works for me and for many of the hosts and other Couchsurfers I know, particularly more active members. It also helps let you know that a potential surfer wants to actually meet you and be a part of the CS community as opposed to just finding a place to sleep.

Leigh Shulman

Awww, shucks. Thanks, Noah.

Leigh Shulman

I most definitely think it's possible. For example, we have plenty of space for a family with three kids under 6yo. And I've stayed with other families and people who would as well.

Of course, your options for Couchsurfing won't be as wide as someone traveling alone or as a couple, but in essence it doesn't really matter.

I think if you go into it with the attitude that if you find a couch, great. If not, fine.

What's really great about Couchsurfing with kids is that you meet lots of other families with whom you can really connect on both the travel and family level.

If there's anything I can do to help out, please let me know.

Kickass Adventuring with Kids

Thanks Leigh. I'll probably be picking your brain at some point!

Leigh Shulman


Depending where you want to go, I may already know people.

Suitcase Reviews

Haha , sweet couch !!

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