So, What Exactly Is Couchsurfing?

by Andi Perullo on November 3, 2009 · 13 comments

Q: So, what exactly is Couchsurfing?

A: Let me begin my answer by quoting Couchsurfing’s mission statement, as I believe it succinctly sums the project up:

Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time.

Sadly, many people mistake this awesome travel community for simply free accommodation, when really the goal is to create an international network of friends with the common interest being the love of exploration.  Yes, one of the many benefits of Couchsurfing is that it makes travel more affordable, but the most meaningful benefit is that connection you make with your host/s or with other Couchsurfers; the cultural exchange that takes place is priceless.  And the hope is that this cultural exchange will in some way make the world a better place through:

” rais[ing] the collective consciousness, spread[ing] tolerance, and facilitat[ing] cultural understanding (1).”?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Couchsurfing is that it is only a hospitably exchange.  This could not be further from the truth.  There are approximately 1.4 million members worldwide (even in places such as Antarctica!).  Thus, you will find that most cities have a Couchsurfing group.  These groups have regular local events that you can participate in and are wonderful opportunities to share your travel stories and to make new friends and potential travel partners.  Plus, it is a great way to get your travel fix when you are not able to travel.

The Couchsurfing Project

The site also features collectives that are held around the world every year.  These collectives sometimes have up to a thousand attendees.  An example of this is the next collective that is being held in Rio, Brasil in celebration of New Year’s Eve.  There will be events days before and after the holiday too.  It is anticipated that this will be the largest collective to date.  I will make sure to report back, as I am attending!

Another way you can use the site is by contacting other members in the city you will be traveling in to see if they can either offer advice on what to do and see or, and this is the best part, if they might be interested in meeting for a coffee/drink, as well as possibly offering their guide services.  You will find that most Couchsurfers love helping you in any way they possibly can.  Make sure to search the online forums for even more invaluable advice.

Next week I will be answering the question: ” Sounds great, so how do I become a Couchsurfer?“?

About the Author:

is the author of 5 posts on Go Backpacking.

I am a Chinese Medicine Doctor by day, travel addict by night. When I am not treating patients, I am traveling or dreaming of the next place to visit. My adventure filled life is satiated only by more experience and more knowledge. To me, my country is the world and I want to explore all of it! My undying love affair with travel is due to the sheer intrigue of untrodden roads, different cultures, and life-changing encounters. To learn more about my travels visit My Beautiful Adventures.

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Categories: Couchsurfing, Features
Post tags: , ,


Stephanie November 3, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I met my last boyfriend at a couchsurfing meet-up, yet somehow I've never actually been couchsurfing. I'd like to start though, so I will be paying close attention to your articles!


Dave November 3, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Andi will touch on this I'm sure, but 1/2 of the couchsurfing experience can be gained by hosting a traveler – so it doesn't actually require any travel to get involved further (than randy meet-ups).


Stephanie November 3, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Very true… however I don't think my mom would appreciate me offering up her couch!


GlobalButterfly November 3, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I will definitely be touching upon this, but how about Stephanie you surf someone else's couch if you can't host? If you don't have the $ to travel, you could always try a nearby city! :)


Nomadic Matt November 4, 2009 at 4:53 am

I love couchsurfing…it is a great way to meet people and save money…though sometimes you meet weird people


GlobalButterfly November 4, 2009 at 7:55 am

Hi Matt, so honored you stopped by, as I LOVE your blog! Yeah, you do meet some unique people from time to time, but I like it because I always learn something new from them.


Ilija Brajkovic November 4, 2009 at 10:55 am

I don't have much experience with CouchSurfing, but I think it is great community and I am proud to be member of it.


GlobalButterfly November 4, 2009 at 11:52 am

That's the thing that's so wonderful about it, you don't need to be really active in it to still enjoy the benefits! Thanks for the comment. :)


Dave November 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I said that same thing at one point. We all have to start somewhere. :)


Casey November 9, 2009 at 4:50 am

This is such a great site and wonderful way to meet locals while saving money.

In a story similar to @Stephanie's, I was contacted by a girl from Quebec to surf on my couch in Southern California. I was out of the country so I referred her to one of my good friends. Long story short, they now live together and she is applying for citizenship, haha. Crazy!


Dave November 9, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Whoa, couchsurfing love connection – that is crazy!

If I could only be so lucky, in say Brazil…. :)


Dave November 9, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Whoa, couchsurfing love connection – that is crazy!

If I could only be so lucky, in say Brazil…. :)


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