Traveling is one of the best things you can do. Whether it be for a weekend or a few months, having the freedom to explore different cities or even countries and embark on brand new adventures is exciting. However, it does require a bit of planning and money. One of the most affordable ways to move about the world is by couchsurfing. A form of homestay services, couchsurfing opportunities allow you to stay in the home of a stranger for free. While it makes sense economically, it can understandably come with its downsides. Just take it from the following travelers, who recently shared some of the wildest couchsurfing experiences they’ve ever had.
48. Cohabiting With A Creep
I surfed in Sydney once and I got pretty creeped out. The guy was nice and all but he kept pulling out knives during our conversation and miming stabbing and saying he wasn’t scared of anyone. He was sort of the kind of person who was convinced the government was out to get him. His apartment was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, and I have a pretty high tolerance (I have some friends who are pretty bad). There was a three-gallon size tub of hair in the bathroom and a really weird horrible sewage smell. The kitchen was full of stacks of dirty dishes. It took me about 30 minutes to clear a piece of living room floor large enough to sleep on. On top of this he left his browser open on an adult chat room on his computer and there was some creepy stuff on there. I also thought he went through my bag I left there, as some of my stuff seemed to be packed differently. In the middle of the night I woke up with a cockroach on my pillow. I slept in my clothes that night. Kindly thanked him in the morning and got the heck out. It was weird and I was worried he was gonna start hitting on me if I stayed any longer.
47. Night Watcher
Woke up to find him watching me sleep and eating a sandwich and drinking. Obviously, I kind of freaked out; I mean who eats a sandwich while drinking in the middle of the night?
46. Hand Model
Stayed at my friend’s grandma’s house who wanted to take pictures of my “lovely hands.” I should add that she took Polaroid pictures.
45. Introduction To Garlic
I used to live in a house in Berlin where we had people couch-surfing nearly every weekend and plenty of weekdays. It was great, we met absolutely loads of interesting people (and a few weirdos).
I also had one of the worst meals ever cooked for me by a Spanish guy. He insisted on cooking and was talked up what a great cook he was and how amazing his food was going to be. As he was making it he acted like he was on a cookery program, talking us through each step and explaining everything as if we had no idea what things were; he even ‘introduced us’ to garlic…as if we didn’t know what garlic was!
The meal was purely disgusting. Basically, he made some pasta that was so overcooked it was just mushy, but in the water that he was cooking the pasta in he also put a load of ham and slices of garlic. Then in a separate pan, he poured a load of (cheap) white wine and used it to boil some whole mushrooms.
And that’s what he served – mushrooms boiled in white wine on top of mushy pasta with bits of soggy ham in.
44. Strict About Shampoo
Not really creepy, but kinda weird. I was hosted by this Japanese guy who would forbid guests to use any other shampoos, shower gels, soaps etc. than his own ones because he didn’t “like the smell of other products in his linen.”
43. Hostage Host
My worst was when I stayed at a man’s house. He tried to keep me there as long as he could. I bought in because he was lonely and wanted someone to talk to, so I stayed an extra day. After that, I was packing up when he pulled a weapon and told me to unpack. Then, he said I was never leaving. I calmed him down and got the weapon away from him (hid it from him), got in my car and left. Went to the police station and told them he was unstable. Felt bad about it as he was lonely and sad, but it needed to be done.
42. Dumpster Meal
Not too creepy, but an interesting story nonetheless.
Once I couch-surfed with a girl who offered me a home-cooked meal. Of course, I could not refuse, as it would have been impolite. She warned me right before I dug in that the ingredients were fished out of a supermarket dumpster. She vehemently swore that the food was all checked and cleared for mold, still in its packaging and unspoiled. Still ate it, wasn’t bad. I could imagine that being very uncomfortable for someone else, though.
41. Dirty Dog
I’ve hosted, and the worst experience was a girl who asked if her dog could stay too (my ad was clear that I love animals, but my landlord did not, thus no animals). She couldn’t line anything else up so she asked if she could crash, but said she’d leave her dog in her car during the night. Well, after I went to bed she snuck her dog in. He hadn’t been washed in a long time (come to think of it, neither had she) and he left weird greasy stains on my couch.
40. Spoiled Trash
My friends hosted a couple of dudes who put their toilet paper in the trash can instead of in the toilet…So that was weird.
39. Nudist In Paris
One of my friends in college spent a semester couch-surfing across Europe and stayed with a nudist in Paris. Apparently, on the listing the guy didn’t give any warning that he was a nudist and my friend was obviously surprised upon arrival. He said the guy was super nice but the whole nudity thing was a little weird.
38. Coffee Rookie
I had a French girl over and we agreed that as a “payment” she’d make coffee each morning. I have a regular coffeemaker, where you put coffee in the filter and water in the water reservoir, then when it gets heated it will go up into the filter and drip down through the coffee grounds to become coffee.
I think she’d never seen one of these, though they are (to me) the most basic coffeemakers ever. She just put the water on the coffeepot, some coffee in the filter and turn it on. After 10 minutes she was annoyed there wasn’t any coffee yet… I still laugh about it every time I make coffee.
37. Shooting Practice
Guy pulled a weapon on us and started shooting.
It was what he said beforehand that made it more epic.
“I really love living out here,” motioning his hand to the empty hills on a tiny road off highway five. We met him at his mailbox, a good five miles of trail left to his house. “You can make all the noise you want and no one will hear.” We agreed with him and said something about partying.
“Yeah! In fact, everyone could scream as loud as they wanted and no one would be around to hear it! In fact, some crazy guy could invite two out of townies to his ranch and” — he pulled the weapon — “Shoot them both!” BLAAAM! BLAAAM!
He fired into the hills, laughed, and tossed us a couple of drinks and “Awww I’m just messing with you!”
36. Snaking It
This happened 5 years ago on a solo bike trip. I found a place to stay in a college town, a bit out of the way but the host seemed cool and was eager to have me over.
When I got there, the girl says “Don’t go into my room” and then leaves for grocery shopping. Weird – but I was pretty bagged from a long day of biking so I showered and passed out on the couch. I woke up around 10 PM when she and her boyfriend showed up with groceries – both looking pretty glazed. We chatted, had some spaghetti and drinks, then all went to bed.
I woke up around 5 AM as the sun was starting to rise. I looked around the room and there’s an 8-foot snake in my room. I screamed, grabbed my stuff and left. Got a text from her around 9 to come back and have breakfast with the three of them.
35. Gross Gossiper
A guy that was traveling to attend a specific conference in my city. Sounded like a cool dude when requesting to stay at my place, but upon arrival was quite simply the most self-centered and cheapest person I’ve met in a long time. Trapped my roommate in our kitchen nook for 30+ minutes to gossip about his classmates’ thesis proposals, didn’t clean up after himself, refused to pay for his share of lunch at a cafe, and skipped out of his drinks round after accepting ours first (a mortal sin to an Australian).
34. Twin Bed
Hanoi, Vietnam. The host picked me up and took me back to his place on the outskirts of town. When it came time to sleep, the only arrangement he had for me was another half of his twin bed and we shared the same blanket. I was super uncomfortable but there was no public transport back to the city…
33. Side Services
I didn’t stay with this guy, but:
Last summer I was looking for a place to stay in Boulder and found some dude’s listing. He seemed normal enough and his house pictures seemed nice enough, so I was looking pretty seriously at his profile when I noticed he had a note about offering “side services” which you could experience for an additional fee. I thought that was weird so I clicked the link to check out the services and, yes, it was really weird. It started out with things like cooking classes or a private meal (for like, $75 — this guy was not a chef either), went through stuff like yoga classes and guided meditation, and then ended up with him offering to do dating classes where he looks at you and talks to you and gives you all his dating advice and tells you what you need to improve on. He also mentioned that he enjoys intimacy and is willing to do erotic massage, make videos, and give pointers as well. It was literally the biggest “what am I reading right now” post I have ever seen on the couch-surfing website.
32. Dinner With A Dentist
Was hosted by a guy in Vietnam studying dentistry and we got dinner with one of his supervisors; she offered a free cleaning, which I took her up on.
31. Couch Fort
I have a friend who once had a woman surf on his couch. When he woke up in the morning she’d made the couch into a fort.
30. Serious Business
I hosted a girl once who seemed normal on her profile. She showed up and it turned out she was in my city for her dad’s funeral whom she hadn’t seen in 12 years. It was kind of somber but I tried to show her around. It could have been worse but you expect people on holiday, not serious business to attend to.
29. Bugging Out
Last summer, a friend of mine was unlucky enough to get bed bugs from her one and only couch-surfer that summer.
Hundreds of dollars later, they’ve fixed the problem … and avoided getting them transferred over to my house (they crashed with me while spraying down their whole house).
28. Exceptional Host
We stayed with this American guy who lived in England. He was super fat and had this huge computer set up in his living room. When we got there, he told us he usually only takes girls but he made an exception for me and my (male) friend because I was so pretty and he was willing to experiment. He spent the whole night shoving his face with chips, coming on to me and swearing at twelve year olds on Counterstrike. He then tried to slip into my bed. The bed that was in the same room and two meters away from the bed with my friend in it. It was a single bed. He fell out. We were supposed to stay two nights. We did not.
27. Arrested Development
In Japan, I hosted a Mexican guy who wanted to walk the length of the main island on about $10 a day. Got a call a couple days after he moved on, from police in Fukushima prefecture around 100 km away. He had been arrested for plugging his laptop into the base of a city street lamp outlet and gave them my number because I was the only person in the country he knew.
At 3 in the morning, I had to explain to the police, in pretty basic Japanese, that this dumb kid was just a student (around 17 years old) who came from a very different place where life is very different and people don’t understand the order and public respect for property the same way as in Japan. Honestly, that’s true for most places.
Police return the phone to him, he thanks me nearly in tears, and they kick him out.
26. Dirty Sheets
Although the host was amazing and really cool, his apartment was pretty dirty. The sheets on my bed were gross the first night and they were crumpled in the corner of the bed when I came in the room. It was mostly a weird miscommunication though, he just didn’t notice that the bed only had that one sheet the first night and he gave me better ones the next night. I was just too timid I guess on the first night to ask for clean sheets.
25. Chance Encounter
I’ve hosted, but my craziest story ever was from a couch-surfing meet-up at a bar on a Saturday three years back. I’d moved to Amsterdam a few months prior from the US to study astronomy, and just so happens that the German guy I chose to sit down next to was also a physicist, in town for the weekend for the first time to help a friend move. We spend ten minutes discussing research interests and the like, and then he mentions something offhand about how he lived in New Zealand previously.
I proceed to freak out. “Johannes!!! Professor W’s E&M class, Auckland, the first half of 2007!!!!” Because you see, I studied abroad there that semester, and this guy was in my CLASS. We did homework together even! Bu wet had lost touch after I left, and neither of us had any idea what the other had done in the 5 years since. Yet thanks to that meet up, we had run into each other.
A lot of squealing ensued when we recognized each other, not all of it from me, and we chatted until the wee hours. It was incredible. All thanks to the couch-surfing meet up!
24. Sketchy Stay
Spent the night at a guy’s place but I’m pretty sure he was a squatter. We showed up, nobody’s home and there’s no lock on the door, but written on the back of the door in Sharpie: “Please don’t invite anyone over, nor bring authorities or food delivery here for any reason. I’m not really supposed to be here. Enjoy your stay!”
23. Age Requirement
I was hosted in Amsterdam by the only individual who was willing to offer their couch to someone in their older 30s. Literally, the ONLY individual. I was either ignored or politely turned down everywhere else.
22. Cutting Tobacco
The first time I ever couch-surfed, I walked in and my host was sharpening a HUGE knife. Turns out he just liked to cut up his own tobacco for cigarettes. He was very nice.
21. Permanent Stay
I’ve had a couch-surfer who simply wouldn’t leave my apartment. I guess she was planning on living with me until she found a job and apartment herself. She was a woman from China who was actually extremely cool, intelligent, and talented. It wasn’t until the fifth day that she admitted she had dropped out of college to use the money to travel and party, so was probably in the country illegally. She seemed oblivious to my obvious hints and was resistant to my polite requests to leave, until on the eighth day I had to tell her very firmly, and she became angry and upset.
20. A Generous Tip
I allowed people to surf on my couch for a while and this one guy was the most memorable. He looked really bad but he didn’t smell like pee or sweat. I let him in and he was gone by 6 AM (went to get some snacks after some fun) and there were 600 bucks on the counter. It was really strange.
19. Cheat Sheet
My (ex) girlfriend used couch-surfing to find someone to cheat on me with. That was rough. Also, I housed a person who turned out to be some kind of elaborate conman who was trying to set up a “charity” that badmouthed the EU so that he would get paid to take it down.
18. Third Time’s A Charm
On the first of three nights, we were picked up by a guy in a Mercedes listening to reggaeton. When we got to his house we noticed that he had a cat and all the house smelled like cat pee. The second night we couch-surfed at a guy’s place that was really nice and he walked with us around the city. In the night he went to buy some substances and got back one hour later saying that he had been arrested and crying. We had no idea what to do. Third night we couch-surfed on a boat. A 4 million dollar boat! It was really strange but really amazing. Never thought I’d be sipping from crystal cups in a boat.
17. Long-Distance Dad
Not me, thank (whatever deity you prefer).
My wife’s uncle hosted quite a few people over the past year and a bit. One woman in particular from France ended up pregnant… So yeah… He’s going there to visit and probably pay child support.
16. All The Rage
Back in 2005, my best guy friend and I hitchhiked across the country and stayed on people’s couches or extra beds thanks to a couch-surfing site. It was the best 8 months of my whole entire life. There are so many nice people out there. Everyone was so accommodating. They all made sure we were fed and comfortable. We had so many crazy adventures I couldn’t possibly put them all here.
But my favorite was when we stayed on some couches at these college kids’ house. They were attending Florida State University and we stayed with them for about a week and a half. These kids knew how to party! We went to some raves and hit up every single club in the area. They were well-known and popular kids so we always got special VIP type treatment where ever we went. Free drinks. Every party substance you could imagine. I met a super cute guy there and had some good times with him. We would pool-hop into random people’s backyards and go skinny dipping. This became a nightly thing after every party because Florida in July is really HOT!
15. Left Out
The most uncomfortable experience I had while couch-surfing was in Ghent, Belgium. It was uncomfortable because my host would constantly be speaking in Dutch to her friends around me, and I could tell I was the topic of discussion the entire time…
14. The Runaway
Girl with no reviews sends me a message saying that she’s stranded and her host canceled. I go across town at 11 p.m. to meet her, and, well, she’s silent the whole night, and smells horrid. It takes her three hours to start talking, at which point she explains that she’s running away from her boyfriend and snuck out in the night, taking a last minute Megabus from Detroit to anywhere (no, just Wisconsin), to meet the family. I was happy for her, but she then said no more words and didn’t sleep. Just stared at my wall and refused to eat food. I know how it goes, and I hope that she’s begun her journey towards brighter days. Just…most awkward guest ever with a rather heavy “surprise.”
13. In Or Out
I am one of those terrible people that has surfed a few times but never hosted, simply because I have not had a place in the last 5 years. The worst are the people who probably never should have accepted you; there was one that left early for work and would not give us a key. So we could either stay in all day or out all day.
12. An Intriguing Invite
I was supposed to stay with someone in Switzerland. The day before I’m leaving to fly from Zurich to Geneva, he adds me on Facebook and sends me this:
hi, I’m (Name Redacted) from Geneva you said I like to try new things .-) I’ll give you an example I’ve shared home with people I met: (drink naked in the kitchen .-) putting finger in other noses to feel the difference, doing free hugs ) .-)))) Funny no? Talking about circumcision because I’m circumcised and curious of non-circumcised people, in America, many are…that’s what I call open-minded, some says it’s too much, but I’m honest .-) I don’t host when I work the next day, more weekend…. see you !
Needless to say I wasn’t game for “Naked Tea Time” and I ended up just going to Nice, France instead of going to Geneva.
But he had really good reviews so perhaps I’m missing something…
11. Forced Feast
Had many great experiences, but just one bad one. We surfed a couch in Ottawa in January. We stayed with an older Australian couple. They took us to their favorite (translation: most expensive) restaurant where we watched them drink and talk bad about each other. Bill comes, and they just look at us expectantly. Um, ok, we’ll grab the $250 tab, don’t worry, it’s on us.
10. Time Difference
My wife and I hosted when we lived in Samoa. I got the date mixed up with the couple we were going to host, I thought it was the next night (international date line and all that).
So they flew in and got a cab to our house, in the middle of nowhere. They arrived at our house at 2AM, and we were asleep and didn’t hear them knocking. They then had to get a cab into town and find a hotel (not easy at that time of night in Apia).
I caught up with them the next day and bought them a drink, and we hosted them at the end of their holiday.
9. Extended Stay
I’ve hosted over 150 people, some staying as long as 30+ days. Only had one problem with an American drifter who got too cozy and just decided to move in. Everyone else was good fun and nothing was ever stolen. Also gave everyone keys.
8. One Too Many
My one and only time hosting people. Two couples – an Indian/Irish couple and two Russians, which turned out later to be an ex-couple. The first couple was having a cigarette on the balcony, the Russians were in bed. The Russian guy was trying to get cozy with the girl and I could clearly hear “Remove your hands, I am going to scream, remove your hands, I am going to scream.” They didn’t know I understand Russian. The girl slapped the guy, he stopped, and we all went to sleep. Five people in one room. Never again.
7. Hipster Hosts
Both of the two I’ve hosted were great people, one a Canadian school teacher traveling and the other a dude biking across the US.
The only negative experience I had was when I went to a local couch-surfers meet up. The other hosts were some of the most pretentious wannabe hipsters and intellectuals I’ve ever met. I think it had something to do with the smallish nature of the town I was in at the time… I haven’t actually couch-surfed but I’ve done hostels, and I’ve never seen a group quite this idiotic before.
6. Poptart Monster
My roommate from Ireland is super into it because he got around in America for about a month on that couch-surfing website. We had a girl come over who ate all his Poptarts. Like who does that? He offered one and she just ate the whole box.
5. Clothing Optional
Whoa boy. My host in Belgium takes the eccentric cake.
He was both the nicest and strangest person I’ve ever met. He was a 50- or 60-year-old guy from the Belgian Congo, and couch-surfing was literally his entire social life. He loved it. He’d have 3-4 couch-surfers over at a time, to a house that was full of ridiculously valuable antiques. Not just paintings, but huge sculptures and stuff carved out of elephant ivory that would be illegal today. He’d cook everyone these fantastic dinners with African spices. I gained so much weight there.
Now, on to the strange part. He strongly preferred male guests, and every time he informed them that “clothing was optional.” He also asked me whether I’d prefer sleeping alone or with him. I just politely declined.
4. A Loud Night
A few weeks ago in Rome. I Hadn’t slept in close to 2 days, and had gone out partying all day upon arriving in Rome. So by the end of the night I was completely out cold. The next day, the Aussie in the bunk above me was super apologetic, “Man, I’m really sorry about last night, I was inebriated, not acceptable, not how I usually am.” I’m like “…What are you talking about?” Apparently he brought some Hungarian girl back and intended to play it out relatively quietly, but the girl was just a complete freak.
3. A Funny Feeling
It was Valentines Day and I had just started seeing this nurse. I suggested that we go up to Far North Queensland into the rain forest for the weekend. There was only one hostel/ campsite up there so I called the place and booked us a dorm as all the cabins were booked and we set off. It was an awesome day stopping at all the beaches and rainforest walks and we finally got there just after dark.
The place was a terrible which I kinda expected for the price but we made the most of it and had some drinks in the outside kitchen.
I was feeling a bit amorous so suggested a walk down to the beach, we started walking through the rainforest in the dark, kissing and laughing and I picked up a stick and started to hit the ground in front of us to disturb any creatures. It was then that I felt something move over my foot and felt a sharp scratch on the top of my foot. Now the Daintree is full of venomous spiders, snakes, toads etc., so I quickly sobered up and we ran back to the outdoor kitchen. There were two puncture marks in the top of my foot.
The drinks drained from my system pretty fast and my nurse friend went off to alert someone and found all the staff had gone home but managed to get one of the locals from the bar who came over and said: “Well mate, you’ve got two choices, see there are loads of green snakes which bite but are not poisonous or brown snakes in which case you’ll be gone in a few hours and we’ll have to radio for a chopper to come pick you up.”
Needless to say, it wasn’t the best of choices, I risked it and decided to see if anything happened before calling for the chopper and instead of getting intimate, I spent the night on the floor of a dorm room nervously sweating trying to decide whether the drinks I had before my walk or the potential deadly snake bite were the reasons my leg felt funny. The next day I went back to Cairns to get the bite looked at and it was from a rat.
2. On The Run
A couple of months ago, 2 friends and I were travelling Europe. We stayed in a 4 bed shared room in a hostel in Prague, and on the 2nd night, we returned at 3am to find our spare bed occupied by an elderly man in silk pyjamas.
Fast forward to next morning, we’re all awake and said guest is hastily packing his stuff away (although he had now changed into a rather dapper tweed suit). We get chatting, and it turns out this gentleman is “doing all the travelling he never did in his youth”, now that he retired from psychiatry. He tells us of his adventures around Europe, bids us farewell and we all agree that he seems like a flipping terrific, admirable dude.
3 weeks later I’m back in the UK, on a train to London, and find myself once again thinking of this mysterious old man who, by this point, had somewhat reached cult status among our social group. I remember that he gave us his full name, and the town he lived in, and I decide to jump on the ‘ole Google to see if I can find out any more about him.
What I found completely shocked me, and left both my friends at either side of me, the same 2 who I’d travelled with, utterly speechless.
So it turns out this guy, now an absolute pantheon of lore, was wanted in court for numerous historic charges in May 2015, and guess what?… He didn’t turn up. Turns out I spent 2 nights sleeping underneath a wanted criminal, on-the-run from the law on the opposite side of the world.
1. A Happy Ending
Couch-surfing changed my life. Main reason – I met my now husband through couch-surfing. He wasn’t even my host, this was a couch-surfing gathering in Houston TX that we both happened to attend. I’m from Scotland and was traveling the US alone, he’s from all over the USA but was at that point a pilot working in the gulf traveling every two weeks he got off. We fell hard for each other, we traveled through three states together on a road trip, even spent Christmas at his parents’ house after just three weeks of knowing each other.