CouchSurfing is a website where you contact locals by requesting to stay at their house/apartment by crashing on their couches, floor or spare room for free. It sure is an interesting way to accommodate you cheaply while traveling and as well get to know the place very well through a local’s point of view. This story is about my CouchSurfing experience in Paris with a buddy of mine and why we did it.
What is CouchSurfing?
CouchSurfing is a social website where you can connect with anyone from around the world who uses the platform. There are basically many ways to use this said website and the most common is to find a local through the website who lives in the place you want to travel to, you can ask if you can crash in his place for few nights (for free). The other is to simply find people who lives in the area to ask for local tips or meet up to make acquantaince.
CouchSurfing is not a freaking dating site! I’ve seen tons of people mistake this as a place for hookups. It frustrates me as to what the platform has become for some people and I must stress that CouchSurfing is all about connecting fellow travelers with likeminded people – people who enjoys learning about culture, traditions, food, and getting to know the locals!
Why we decided to take the risk and go CouchSurfing in Paris?
In Europe CouchSurfing became huge because of the costly hostels and hotels and as well as years passed, travellers and tourists are becoming more interested in cultures and local living when they visit new places hence Couchsurfing becoming a huge success in Europe because you get to live with a local who can show you around or tell you what most locals do in one certain place.
My buddy and I decided to do a European backpacking trip together, and we decided that our first stop should be Paris, France. We weren’t sure where to stay, and our budgets weren’t much as he was a student and I was planning a three-month long trip (it was awesome and I survived several long flights), and my budget was meant to last till I come back home.
When I was researching for cheap accommodations in Paris, I only found expensive hostels and was frustrated to find other cheaper options. It was hard for us to find anything cheaper since we were going to be there during the Christmas week until New Years – which was obviously the most expensive time to be anywhere – and even though we try so hard to look for an alternative, it was unsuccessful.
Until one amazing night when I stumbled upon few bloggers who are promoting CouchSurfing and I was intrigued and the more I researched about it, the more I like the idea until I was sold and decided to make an account; I showed it to my friend, and we decided to give it a go and started a series of requests to several people who have good reviews and mostly positive feedbacks and ask if we can crash their couches.
La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre. Paris, France.
How did we met our local Parisian host?
We were very careful who we send couch requests to as it was our first time to use the platform, we want to ensure and weight down our risks. So it is either we pay a lot for hostel bunk beds, or we find the perfect host.
So, one day, I posted on the Paris group asking people if they have a space for two and several people replied to it and one of it was Quentin, our soon to be Parisian CouchSurfing host! We agreed to stay at his place, and everything was set, we will be in Paris for a week pretty much for free, pretty neat I mustsay myself. It was exciting for us since we both never did such thing ever before. Quentin was helpful and gave us clear instructions on how to get to his place from the airport, and we were just simply astonished by how simple this website works.
It was exciting for me and my bud since we both never did such thing ever before. Quentin was helpful and gave us clear instructions on how to get to his place from the airport, and we were just simply astonished by how simple this website works.
It also got really exciting because there are tons of things to do in Paris I would love to experience!
The wine bar Quentin brought us to have few drinks.
What are our initial thoughts about our CouchSurfing host?
We arrived on a weekend in Paris and found our way to Quentin’s place with no problem just by following his instructions. He lived just in the city’s center and was rather close to pretty much everything! I was personally a little bit nervous about meeting him and his roomies but I always have a backup plan and told my friend that if he is a creep, I’ll kick his balls and we run for our lives. However, I was so wrong!
He was a normal dude who is very nice and a pretty damn good cook. He is also a chef just like moí so we got along pretty well. He filled his fridge with several sorts French cheese and got some wine, and webought a baguette from his neighboring bakery, and shared a meal in his living room like good old friends.
Quentin made sure that he had time to show us around and brought us to several places in Paris and the most memorable time for me was when he brought us to this one wine bar place where they sell French wines which are produced just around Paris. It was an amazing experience because there were no signs of tourists in that bar and we felt like we were locals and had a great time chatting with new found friends.
As for me as a woman, if I would have been alone in this trip to Paris, CouchSurfing with a male host would probably not my ultimate choice but given the experience we had and with extra caution – I would certainly do it again. Especially with Quentin, he was an amazing guy!
Concluding our experience – CouchSurfing in Paris
Staying with a local was an absolute bliss because they show you the different part of that place. In our case, Quentin was a good host and gave us his time and as well knowledge about the city. Our Paris experience was far from what I imagined it to be and we had a blast. It was certainly a bit scary in the beginning but when researched properly and with a little dash of positivity, normally it goes accordingly.
I had been in contact with Quentin through Facebook months before we even met so I have sort of known him at least a little bit before we arrive at his doorsteps. Our CouchSurfing in Paris experience was overall good and I got nothing else to say but positive things, I would certainly love to do it again. We also CouchSurfed on other cities and had positive results as well. My friend, who was studying Documentary Photography, actually got so fond of it that he went to Wales and photographed few CouchSurfers’ couches where they welcome travelers to sleep on for few nights.
I, on the other hand, found amazing friends through this website! They are usually arranging meetings on every city where there is a good amount of members and from there I met several amazing people who became few of my good friends over the years! When I get the chance to travel for a while again I certainly go surf people’s couches and use this website to find amazing locals to meet and get to know.
A little tip for those who want to try CouchSurfing
- CouchSurfing may cut down your travel cost but do not sign up for it just because you want to save money! The platform is all about connecting to fellow travel minded people who enjoys exploring the world and getting to know people from different cultures.
- I personally find that CouchSurfing is a good way to make new friends in a new city so be open-minded as you’ll meet tons of different people through this platform!
- This is not necessary, but giving a little gift from your point of origin (or anything, really) to give to your host is a nice gesture.
- CouchSurfing is not a dating website. If you find hosts who are willing to lend your his or her couch but seems creepily flirting with you, run away. It is not worth it.
- Always, by this I meant, ALWAYS check reviews and do a background check on the person who is about to host you! Ask tons of questions, could be anything, and verify their existence in other social media (like Facebook) before jumping in and knocking on their doors. It is always good to be safe than sorry.
- If everything aligned well with your host online but he or she is not what you expect in person when you are in their home and you start to feel uncomfortable, just go and pay for a hotel or hostel. Make an excuse and go. Always be reminded that your own personal safety is the priority!
- If ever something weird is happening and your host starts to harras you, always pack your important belongings in a smaller bag and keep it by your side at all times. Why? In case shit hits the fan and you need to go faster than a blink of an eye, go figure.
Here are more tips regarding your CouchSurfing profile
If you’re interested on surfing someone’s couch through this website, make sure you verify yourself and as well try to get as much reviews as you can before looking for a host. For instance, join meetings arranged by CouchSurfers around the city you live in and meet people or host couchsurfers yourself. You can always ask for their contacts like facebook and get to know few people and later you can kindly ask them if you can exchange references with them. Most hosts or couchsurfers will not take you if you do not have any references or worse, negative references. In addition, do not ask hosts who does not have any reference at all! Make sure you go for those who have at least few good references.
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*Post updated in June 7, 2017
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