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.
57. Some Guys Get All The Luck
I can definitely recommend couch surfing! I’ve surfed a couple of times in Luxembourg, France, and Germany! When I was in Berlin I stayed at this really rich guy’s appartment in one of the best neighborhoods of the city. I had my own bedroom with a king size bed and I had my own bathroom with a rain shower and a huge bath tub. I felt like I was in a 5-star hotel. The guy that hosted me was a manager who spent half his week in London so for 3 out of my 5 days there I had the place to myself. He trusted me with the keys and everything! I had the best time!
56. Look Him Up
I stayed with a Bedouin in the Jordanian mountains, near Petra, in his family’s cave. He cooked for us on an open fire, we smoked a hookah, and we meditated in the evenings under the clearest night sky. There wasn’t a sound for miles. Greatest guy ever and easily without hesitation the best few days of my whole life. Dude’s called Ghassab.
55. It Has It’s Ups And Its Pick-ups
Couchsurfing can be great because it’s like being treated like family. Relearning that 99% of people are beautiful and caring at heart. Having warm showers and hot meals while cycling all-day going across the US. Meeting great people and friends in the town I’m staying.
On the other hand it can be awkward. One time a male host was hitting on me (straight male) a lot and started massaging up my leg while I was laying on his bed watching Prison Break with him. Felt nice and I was too tired to care much- but the surprised rubbing definitely woke me up! He offered to tuck me in and I said nah man. That’s not even a horror story, more just a funny-getting-hit-on-by-a-guy story. Better than being asked “Do you want to do me?” 60 seconds after a guy in Nagpur, India was pretty excited to meet a foreigner… I honestly can’t think of a negative experience couchsurfing. I highly recommend it to anybody!
54. 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.
53. 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?
52. 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.
51. 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.
50. 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.”
49. 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.
48. 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.
47. 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.
46. 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.
45. 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.
44. 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.
43. 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!”
42. 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.
41. 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).
40. 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…
39. 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.
38. 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.
37. 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.
36. 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.
35. 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).
34. 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.
33. 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.
32. 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!
31. 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!”
30. 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.
29. 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.
28. 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.
27. 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.
26. 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.
25. 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.
24. 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.
23. 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!
22. 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…
21. 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.”
20. 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.
19. 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…
18. 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.
17. 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.
16. 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.
15. 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.
14. What A 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.
13. 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.
12. On The Run
A couple of months ago, 2 friends and I were travelling Europe. We stayed in a couchsurf in Prague, in a spare room of some guy’s apartment that had four twin beds in it. 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.
11. 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.
10. When Plans Fall Through
I planned to stay for a few nights with a guy in Tokyo. We communicated a few times before I arrived and he had on his page that he requested a small donation (around $10) to help pay for the extra space in his apartment, water, etc. which was perfectly cool with me. So when I got to Tokyo and started for his apartment, it took over an hour of walking to get to his place. When I got there, he’d said the door would be unlocked and to let yourself in. So I went in and every inch of the floor was covered with sleeping mats, sleeping bags and people’s crap. As in, he hosted dozens of people at once or dozens of people were living there and it was impossible to walk around and dirty and weird with dishes and clothes and toothbrushes everywhere. So I left, walked an hour back to the subway with all our backpacks and stuff and ran around Tokyo looking for a place to sleep in the middle of the night with my traveling partner who was mad at me. Luckily I had a list of backups to checkout and eventually stayed at an awesome capsule hotel.
After that, I’ve still hosted people, but haven’t felt confident enough to try staying with someone again.
9. A Chilly Reception
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.
We return to their house, and they show us to our room. The lady tells us the heat doesn’t work so well in the room, so here is an extra blanket, and off they go to bed. Now, if you are not familiar with Ottawa in the winter, let me assure you this is no tropical destination. It’s cold. It’s freeze your snot into icicles in 30 seconds cold outside. This room is chilly! There is a big thermometer, one of those old school red mercury ones, and it is reading 12 Celsius. My girlfriend and I stay in our clothes, and huddle under the covers. Fast forward to 4am,I am shivering uncontrollably and I get up and check the thermostat. It is now 4 Celsius in there! A really cold refrigerator is 4 celsius! That’s when I say screw it, I don’t care about the money, I don’t care how much dinner cost us, we are going to a hotel. We packed up and left. The lady comes out and asks us what’s wrong as we are leaving! We went to the nearest hotel and went straight to a hot shared shower.
8. Love Is In The Air
My friend and I traveled through western Europe (we are both American) in 2008 while using couchsurfing, and it was the most amazing experience ever. We were able to travel for three months, stay in 16 cities and I was able to afford it with only $2000 (after plane and train tickets).
I got to stay with locals who really showed me their city. Stayed with a DJ in Rome who took us to a cafe just outside the city for the best meal of our lives, some college dudes in Vienna who took us to some really strange and awesome clubs, stayed with a band in Brussels who really got a kick out of my Barry Manilow collection (hearing “Copa Cabana” in a thick French accent was tops) and returned the favor with awesome beer, and that’s just off the top of my head.
The only bad experience I can think of is when we were in Barcelona. Right when we were at the train station figuring out where to go, our host cancelled on us by text. It’s hard to call that a bad experience since we just wandered to the nearest hostel, and that night I met this cute British guy who was staying at the same place.
Said British guy and I just got married a few weeks ago 🙂
7. Sometimes It’s Better Than Therapy
When I graduated college in 2010, I was having a really hard time finding a job. My college roommate was moving to Seattle, so we decided to drive from Kansas to Seattle and couch surf along the way. We visited someone in Nebraska, then South Dakota and then Billings, Montana.
The woman who we couchsurfed with in Montana was amazing. She was probably in her mid to late 60s, had served in the Peace Corps and was the most giving, wonderful woman.
We got in really late and night and immediately crashed out with intention of waking and immediately hitting the road again as early as possible. We woke up around 7:30 to incredible pancakes and as many cherries as I’ve ever seen (Montana cherries in the summer… my god)
We woke up and ended up spending THE ENTIRE DAY sitting in her apartment talking about life. I ended up having a major breakdown (I was have a really hard time in general, especially with unemployment and general feelings of uselessness) and it was so absolutely cathartic.
It was really a huge turning point in my life (cliche, I know) and it really helped me get out of the horrible slump I was in.
6. Travel In A Pack
I used to live in a house in Berlin where we had people couch surfing nearly every weekend and plenty of week days. 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 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 pure 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.
The lucky thing about couchsurfing.com is that people tend to let their freak flags fly online, so its easy to vet out people you should avoid. That said…
Me (female) and three guys are couchsurfing, and the only guy available in our designated city said he could host three people max, no exceptions. We message him anyway, asking if the four of us could please spend a night at his… fourth person will sleep on the floor if we have to, etc, just please make an exception for us! His response? “Absolutely not, unless one of you is a girl who wants to share my bed ;)” My three guy friends looked at me pleadingly, but there was no way that was going to happen.
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!”
Me and the three dudes again… this time we find a nice mom and dad who are obviously hippie/outdoor types willing to host us. We show up really late at night, they warned us they wouldn’t be home but told us to ring the doorbell and someone would answer. We’re confused… but ring the doorbell and a girl in her mid-20s wearing a tshirt and a thong opens the door. Turns out she’s couchsurfing there too that night… my traveling companions were pretty excited but WHO SLEEPS IN A THONG AT A STRANGERS HOUSE??
5. You Meet Some Nice Dogs, Too
My first couchsurfing experience was the best by far. Now-husband and I were on a cross-country trip; he set us up to stay with a highly-rated middle-aged gay couple in Ft. Lauderdale. Now, I wasn’t concerned with safety or anything (everyone kept saying “what if they’re axe-murderers?” but c’mon they’re letting you into their HOME, and how do they know that WE’RE not axe-murderers?), but anyway, I wasn’t expecting much — it’s called couchsurfing, so I was expecting a couch, maybe an inflatable mattress if we’re lucky. No.
We enter through a lovely outdoor courtyard with heated pool. In the kitchen is another couple that are couchsurfing as well. One of our hosts says, “they got here first, so you guys get sloppy seconds…” meaning we got the apparently-not-as-nice bedroom. We go in: bed’s made up, canopy hanging overtop, tons of pillows. Our own bathroom ensuite, complete with towels & washcloths set out, with mini-soaps and travel shampoos.
Back downstairs, one of the guys gives us a set of keys to the house. To their freaking house! We met literally 20 minutes ago! Then they took us out for a beer where we chatted about the city, couchsurfing, etc etc.
Next morning we wake up and go downstairs… the two gentlemen hosts had gone to work, and the other couple had already left for the day. The kitchen is stocked with breakfast — a line of cereal boxes, bowl of fruit, tray of cookies, box of pastries, juices in the fridge. On the counter: stacks of travel brochures for Ft. Lauderdale, set out like a freakin’ hotel lobby.
We went south a day later, to camp in the Keys, but it was hot, buggy, and miserable, and we got no sleep. I called them back, asking if we could please come back for one night, and they said “Of course!”
Also they had a fluffy white dog that was just as nice as they were.
4. Close Call At The Border
I’m a woman who has hosted 250+ people over 6 years on 3 continents. Regularly I host events in my city and participate in others while traveling. I have met fantastic friends through couchsurfing, both those who live near me and those from far away.
My first time SURFING was one of my best and most dramatic. My (our) host picked us up at the land crossing between Ghana and Togo on the coastal highway. The immigration officer tried to cheat me and my co-traveler, insisting that the price was in one currency rather than the other. Host ripped the guy a new one and slammed down on the table the correct amount of money. Visas fixed.
Over the next 3 days, he took us around Lome, Aneho, and some villages in the interior. He showed us the natural beauty of the country. He showed us what has been ruined by years of military dictatorship. He epxlained why it would be so hard to recover, and showed us what little industry remains. He introduced us to family, friends, neighborhood gatherings.
What I love most? His reason for participating in Couchsurfing was to expose his young sons (10, 6, and 3 years old) to foreigners. He wanted them to understand other languages. He wanted them to appreciate other cultures. He wanted them to know that foreigners aren’t just do-gooders who come on charities and evangelical mission to give stuff as charity or to begging children.
No awful experiences HOSTING or SURFING but some people who, despite careful profile reading, didn’t “click” with me in real life. Worst hosting experiences are 1) dirty smelly hippy stereotype and 2) a Hungarian dude who was trying to “find himself” after he was dumped by a girlfriend. Would not stop talking about her. Super creepy. Understood in a short time why she dumped him.
3. Objects Are Closer Than They Appear
I went to Paris back in May. Booked a nice little one bedroom in Montmatre, great view and a tiny balcony. The place looked like it belonged to an artist/photographer. Loved everything I saw in that place.
When my friend and I finally arrived there, holy crap… first of all it was a studio. There was no bedroom. Second, the place couldn’t have been bigger than 320sqf. I mean this was a shoebox. Not a big deal if it’s my friend and I but the guy is supposed to stay there too. It smelled of sewage and BO. There was a twin sized bed, a chair and a piano in there. The way the guy talked just gave us the chills. I can’t really put it in words. He clearly saw a photo of my friend and I because he pointed out several times how beautiful we are and kept stroking his piano while saying stuff like, “Do you….like my …uhh….piano?”
Because the room was so small we naturally assumed he wouldn’t be staying there. When we asked him though, he said we’d sleep on the twin bed and he’d sleep on the wooden chair….right by the bed. He kept touching himself in a weird, slow way and there was just something not quite right about this guy. But what could we do? We’re in Paris, we have nowhere to go, everything seemed booked. So we went to a bar (naturally) to figure something out. I made a few calls and casually texted my boss saying I’m screwed. He arranged for us to stay at the Ramada right by the Eiffel Tower (with the view) the very same night.
We ran back to get our things and I made something up like, “Oh you are lovely and the place is lovely but we got this AMAZING offer at the Ramada that we just cannot refuse” … he was SO insistent that we stay and was standing by the door. We kept saying we were leaving and just apologizing to the guy. When I picked my bag up and the big bottle of wine I got earlier, he moved. We were out in a quick second.
2. There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch
I’ve couchsurfed and offered my couch many times. Most of my experiences have been really good.
I live in New Zealand so I get tons of back packers, mainly from Europe. I am really picky about who I let stay with me because I don’t want weirdos in my house. I don’t have one single great experience because most people I let in are really nice. The most memorable people were a couple who told me they liked wearing onesies and asked if I thought it was weird. Not at all but they both had half a dozen onesies each. That’s dedication. It’s great to learn bits of their language. And I often get sent pictures of them when they are elsewhere in New Zealand and still have a few of them as friends.
The worst people I’ve ever hosted was a couple who banged really REALLY loudly. And frequently. They did it basically all night. They were French, which I understand, and they thought yelling in French would somehow make the experience less awkward for me. Thank God they only stayed one night. I was more cautious about allowing couples after that but got over it. Every other couple has been very discrete about their coupling.
The best experience I ever had couch surfing was in Japan. They guy I was staying with was a student chef so every night (I was there three nights) he made this elaborate dinner for my friend and I and every morning he gave us little lunch boxes. His name was Iro and he had a photo of him meeting the voice actor of Iro from Avatar: the last air bender and he had blown it up into this huge poster and had it as the centrepiece of his living room. He was awesome.
The worst thing that ever happened was with that same friend. 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 in to my bed. The bed that was in the same room and two metres 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.
1. Don’t Get Lost In London
My girlfriend, a friend, and I went to London while we were studying abroad in Germany. We were spending 4 nights in the city, but we were only able to get hostels for the first two nights before we left. We figured ‘meh’, we’ll find something… it shouldn’t be too hard. The first two days were great! We saw the British museum, walked all over the Thames, the markets, and were able to watch the 2012 Euro Cup Final at a pub in London. For our third night, we were looking all over the city for an available hostel, but we weren’t able to find one. We decided to give couchsurfing a try since my girlfriend had used it quite frequently in the past and she always had great experiences with the hosts.
We make our post and we receive a reply almost instantly. A guy was celebrating his 30th birthday and he wanted as many people to share the experience with him as possible. He lived outside the city, but he agreed to pick us up at the last stop on the tube. On our way to meet him, we picked up a bottle of vodka as a ‘thanks for saving us and happy birthday gift.’
We make it to the station, find him in the parking lot and present him with the bottle and say thank you. As soon as we leave the parking lot he (while he is driving) and a girl that was with him opened the bottle of vodka and began taking pulls as we drove through the English country side. Our friend is hammered and she thinks the ride is great, while my girlfriend and I began to get worried.
After a few minutes we arrive at his house. We decided that we were safe and how crazy it was that that had just happened. There are about 20 other people at the house with a table full of booze. THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME! We start partying and meet the other couch surfers. There were people from all over the world at the house and were playing drinking games and having the best time ever! After a few hours, someone brings out a bottle that looks like a 5 hour energy bottle and they start snorting something from it. I ask what’s in it and they tell me that it’s china white with a little extra something… “do you want some?” I politely refuse and they continue doing it while the three of us kind of stick closer to each other and keep an eye on everything.
At sunrise we decide to go to bed. We go upstairs to the spare room and the host tells us that since we are 3 together we can sleep in his bed (a queen versus the twin we were going to sleep in). We thank him and move our stuff. I pass out on the bed while the girls brush their teeth/change/and remove makeup. The host then comes in, out of his mind, with a pair of buzzers of goes for my girlfriend’s head. He gets a tuft of hair all the way to her scalp before our friend grabs the buzzer and shatters it against the wall. They run to the bedroom and lay on the bed. I’m on the edge then the two of them are behind me.
The host comes to the bed, lays down behind the friend and starts to feel her and my girlfriend up. They slap his hand and he passes out. 30 seconds later they shake me awake and tell me “we have to get out. we have to leave right now.” It is 6am, I’m still drunk and exhausted, and I see the seriousness on their faces. We grab all of our stuff and run out of the house. We don’t know where we came from, so we just start walking in the direction that we think that London is in. They tell me the story and yell at me for getting so wasted and not protecting them, but we keep it together because we’re in the middle of the country, it is foggy, there aren’t any side walks, and there lots of curves zipping through the tall fields. Dozens of cars pass us as we try to get someone, anyone to stop and tell us where to go.
Eventually a very nice man from India stops and we tell him that we’ve had a really bad night and we just need a ride to a train station. He tells us how his daughter had studied in the U.S. and how she had found that Americans were so nice to her, willing to help. He takes us to the train station and we head back to London. Once we get there, we find the closest hotel and we get a room for about 100 pounds. It won’t be ready for a few hours, so we go to this big outdoor market and get Indian street food and sleep on a picnic table.
We get into the room and the bed is the biggest, most comfortable bed that we have ever seen. We take showers and settle down to sleep and turn on the TV. Anchorman was on and everything was perfect. We slept the entire day and flew back to Germany the next morning. In the end, everything was ok.