Author Topic: Mustachian Traveling: Have you used workaway.info or couchsurfing?  (Read 2884 times)

windawake

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I think I'm going to travel to Europe this fall after I finish graduate school. I have a subletter lined up already, so this is the perfect opportunity to go do something. I'd like to travel as frugally as possible, so that I don't use up whatever savings I have left (which may be none, at that point). Has anyone used workaway.info or done couchsurfing? I think I'll plan to use workaway to find places to stay for 2-3 weeks, and then couchsurf my way to the next location. Since I'll be traveling by myself this sounds like the best way to go, it's cheap and I'll meet a lot of people. Has anyone had any experience with either of these methods?

yomimono

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Re: Mustachian Traveling: Have you used workaway.info or couchsurfing?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2013, 02:16:53 PM »
I've traveled and hosted via CouchSurfing.  Met a lot of really nice people that way.   About the only problem I've ever had is that sometimes folks are a little clingy - they want to show me their city when I already have plans to explore it myself, or they want me to show them around when I have other plans.  This might not be a problem for you, depending on how you like to travel.

SmackDab

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Re: Mustachian Traveling: Have you used workaway.info or couchsurfing?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2013, 02:56:02 PM »
I did a bunch of independent traveling back in 2005 and couchsurfed in a number of cities in Europe and Asia.  Since then, I've hosted several surfers at home in the US and surfed sporadically on road trips.  I've also used the site to meet up with locals for drinks/coffee when I had other accommodation already lined up.

IMHO, couchsurfing works best when the focus is on cultural exchange and meeting new people, with free lodging being a pleasant secondary benefit.  When someone is in it purely for a free place to crash, it becomes obvious to the host and can be a major turn-off.  I'm definitely not implying that's your mindset...it's just something to be aware of.

My best bit of advice would be to get involved with your local CS community and meet other couchsurfers in your area before you leave on your trip.  Pretty much any city of 75,000 people or more will have a designated group on the website that you can join.  I've been involved in the CS groups for Seattle and Minneapolis and it's pretty common for someone to be organizing happy hours, potlucks, or other meet-ups more or less every week.  By getting to know people locally, you can build up your reputation (vouches and references) on the web site, which makes you more of a "known quantity" to hosts.  Most hosts will tell you about getting requests from people who throw together a half-baked profile with no references...these requests often get ignored.  In very popular cities (London, Paris, etc.), hosts get bombarded with so many requests (sometimes 50+ per day) that they have to deny most of them.

Which leads me to another suggestion: because there's so much competition for hosts in popular cities, you might find that you have the best luck in cities that are big enough to have a good-sized population of CS hosts, but aren't so huge/popular that they're getting inundated with requests.  Think Missoula vs NYC.

Some of the best experiences I've had in my travels have involved couchsurfing...if you go into it with the right mindset and a little prep, I'm sure you'll have a great time, too!

markbrynn

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Re: Mustachian Traveling: Have you used workaway.info or couchsurfing?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2013, 05:09:48 AM »
The original post is a few months old, but I wanted to add that in addition to Couchsurfing (which I've used and with good experience) there are also a couple of similar, and I believe they've even been around longer, services. One I used a lot and used to be more popular in Europe, though most people are on several sites at once by now, is Hospiality Club (www.hospitalityclub.org). It was started up by a German guy and is a bit more low tech and less flashy than Couchsurfing has become. Waaaaay back, I started out with GlobalFreeloaders, but found that annoyingly low tech at the time and haven't gone back.

Regarding actually hosting and being a guest: as a host I never had a problem. My house isn't filled with expensive stuff, but I don't remember anything ever disappearing. I gave almost all guests a key so they could come and go as they please. It takes a leap of faith, but usually you get a reasonable feeling by sending a few messages back and forth and a very good feeling in the first 5 minutes you meet someone. The most important thing to remember is that you can always say no. If you want to meet somebody before deciding whether they can stay with you, best to let them know that ahead of time. On the other hand, if you get a weird feeling it's well within your rights to back out at the last minute. All of these sites are clear that guests should always have a backup plan (hotel, sleep on a bench at the train station).

As a guest I never had the problem with clingy hosts. Also helps to discuss your plans up front so expectations are aligned. If you take a bit of time to match yourself up with someone somewhat like-minded it tends to go smoothly.

good luck