This post was created with the assistance of the Couchsurfing Ambassadors and their years of experience both as hosts and surfers.
In the teachings of the Catholic Church, the 7 Deadly Sins are the 7 “evil thoughts or or spirits that one needed to overcome.” In Couchsurfing, they are far less serious, however they are sure-fire ways to offend or upset your host or surfer. If you’re new to Couchsurfing, or just want a refresher on Couchsurfing tips for a successful stay, keep an eye out for these behaviors and follow our advice to avoid falling into these traps!
Envy: Choose the person, not the place.
You are choosing the person, not the place. Couchsurfing is about connecting travelers and locals. Read the profile, choose a surfer or host you think you will connect with. Be open to what that connection can provide for you on your trip or in your home. If it were about where you sleep, you would choose a hotel. It’s about the person you will be sharing your time and space with. What we have does not compare to how we spend our time. Appreciate what is being given, whether it is a great conversation or a unique experience. Be open to differences and discomfort, you’re only with that person for a few days but what may remain is a lifelong friendship.
Anger: Communication is key, but your safety is most important.
Be patient with each other. Language barriers, cultural differences or personal logic could be dictating actions and behavior. Communicate through it. Don’t let the anger simmer in your mind. Address it immediately and leave it in the past.
As a host, communicate your rules, expectations and values. As a surfer, listen to those and be respectful. Be vocal if something makes you uncomfortable and always know that you can leave. The safety of both the host and surfer is Couchsurfing’s highest priority and if any situation seems unsafe, remove yourself from it and find a safe place. Contact our safety team, local authorities or another CS community member or Ambassador if you need immediate assistance.
Greed: Give as much as you take.
As a surfer, give back. make dinner, buy drinks, bring a gift for your host. Give your time to your host. They are making space in their home for you but they may also be making time in their schedule. Be conscious of that and communicate your plans and expectations with them.
As a host don’t expect your surfer to pay for everything or to pay at all. Don’t expect the surfer to spend all of their time with you but rather encourage them to pursue their own interests while allowing them to take part in your life if they so choose.
Gluttony: The opposite of gratitude.
Be grateful for what is being offered. If it is time, conversation, housing, or meals; people give and receive in different ways. Be aware of that and make sure you appreciate and reciprocate. Hosts are giving you their space. Surfers are giving you their time. Make sure you both have similar expectations for the host-surf relationship and be prepared to be gracious. In your plans, in what you share, and in forgiveness if differences may arise.
Pride: Listen more than you speak.
Your host or surfer has experiences and info that will build on yours. Ask questions. Even the ones you think are stupid. Swallow your pride is one of the greatest life lessons for us all to learn. There are no dumb questions and sharing how you feel about something will only remove the weight of it from your shoulders. Be proud of what you know and do not know. Laugh at mistakes and misunderstanding, accept differences, and be open to what every person can teach you. Boasting isn’t attractive in any language and pride will keep you from learning.
For hosts, you don’t need to be a guidebook, but allow your experience and knowledge to guide the surfer if they wish – if they don’t, let them be independent. When showing your surfer the cool, even touristy, spots of your city – stop & enjoy the view. Let their awe and wonder at your city remind you of what you can so easily take for granted.
Sloth: Laziness is the opposite of adventure.
Be responsive to messages and texts. Both the surfer and host are making plans around the trip, be respectful of that and keep people informed on changes and plans as they are made. After the stay, leave a reference. References are what keep Couchsurfing alive and safe. Let the community know about your experience within the 2-week reference period.
As a surfer, if you are tired from traveling and need time to relax and rest, then communicate this with your host. But don’t expect your host to be comfortable with you spending all day in their home. If you are sick or in need of extended rest time, a hostel may be a better option for your needs. If you made it to a new city, go see it! Ask for advice if you don’t know what to do – but be aware that your host has a life and duties and may not be available to you 24/7 and their home may not be either.
Lust: Couchsurfing is not for dating.
There are many apps that can be used to find a romantic connection. Couchsurfing is not one of them. Find a new friend, go on an adventure, attend some cool events – just don’t look for a date here. Always respect physical boundaries and do not assume that everyone has the same level of comfort regarding physical touch or conversation topics.
As a surfer, if you feel that a line is being crossed or may be, remove yourself from the situation. Contact the safety team, go to a safe place, contact other members who can help you retrieve your belongings. Never stay in a situation that may put you in harms way.