An honest and sincere question: Is hospitality really hospitality, when something expected in exchange?

Least I can do is nothing. By definition. It is a stupid expression.

Just as I mentioned in the reply above – those who have not felt the fulfillment that giving brings will always expect, because they have not known the true joy of love, which is giving without leaving anything for yourself.


Beautiful thing about hospitality exchange is the fact that there are a lot of people with different characters, values and opinions. Surfers who believe in the law of reciprocity will have no issues to stay with hosts that would like to get something in exchange for hosting. Surfers who the least they can do is nothing will have no issues with staying with altruistic hosts. Just choose your companion carefully and everybody will have a good time. That’s the goal.


If a guest wants to know what to expect about my hospitality, among other things: read my profile.
It was always like this and it will stay that way.


Agree with you Pelgrim.
This is what the individual profiles/reading them are all about.
How can we expect the site/app to define exactly for everyone given all our diverse multicultural differences?
There will never be a clear enough description that will be inclusive for a global community.
For me simple is better.
Life is already way too complex.
We are being bombarded and super stimulated as it is. Trying to find a system that includes multiculturalism across borders, religions, beliefs, gender, age, backgrounds, spiritualities, professions and the wide range of the complexity of a human being, never mind the arriving star beings for the Big showdown is bound to be a generalist approach that will end up excluding many.
In the spirit of community and heart based cooperation.
Peace, love, light and blessings.

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I do not open a new thread but I make two questions that are someway related: There are people that arrives as a normal guest, that plans to stay a few days, arranged with the host and then move to another place.
Sometimes happens that for some reason the next place become unavailable and the guest ask to stay much longer than arranged.
Three different people told me about a problem: in many places certain expenses for the house [mostly water and cleaning] are paid based on the number of people living in the apartment and the number is the number of people that stay there more than N days (N that can be even as little as 2), so if the guest overstay you have to pay some extra on the order of 2-10 EUR per period (week or month), even if the overstay is just one day over N.
Servas used to limit stay to 2 days to avoid such problems and others.
If the guest is really nice you can absorb the extra expense, if the guest if bad you do not allow overstay, but there is a range in the middle where you have no reason to kick it out other not to pay double a whole month for water and cleaning.
So it is still in the spirit of hospitality to ask everyone that overstay to pay that money? (I do not talk about “please help me do some house chores, if you stay more time” but of real money) and how to justify to ask to someone that asked first to stay 3 days and then 5 days more “give me 5€” and when leaving after 3+1 because next place returned available offer only 1€, having to tell “it’s 5 in any case, because 4 to 10 days count always as a week”
How to avoid that the guest consider this as a rent and not the extra cost of its overstay ?

when i started hosting people i had no expectations, minimal requirements for a good request and spent alot of time cleaning my place and being prepared, as time went on i started having some expectations but not as requirements, ie. a gift or some gesture, i prefer requests that state reasons for wanting to stay at my place and i do minimal preperation, but i don’t have time limits for people i like and i have a good time with most people, i don’t mind people using my electricity or toilet paper or whatever, as long as they don’t break anything (which has happened) and treat my apartment with respect it’s all good
currently i have relaxed my expectations even more cuz of the pandemic and i get fewer requests, still waiting to host somebody from couchers : }

As written in the handbook: Help | “No. Keep things non-transactional. Don’t exchange money, goods, work, donations, or services while staying, hosting, or meeting up.”

Since asking for donations is not allowed/recommended:

A) Be honest : "Sorry, I could and would love to host you, but having guests for longer than 3 days affects my utility bill and I am not allowed to ask for money on Couchers”. This way you might get a tiny contribution “under the counter” without actually asking for it. In my opinion it feels a bit weird.
B) Drop that completely and be firm about not extending the stays: “Sorry, I can’t host you for 8 days, we only agreed on 3”. Let’s normalize saying no without the need to explain or feel guilty. In the end it’s the guest who failed to find their next accommodation. Host should not be put into the position of collecting coins to cover their utility bills because somebody else is overstaying their welcome.


@Climbatiz : the case[s] i told was not on utilities that you pay by use, but some other ones, rendered to the whole building that usually are shared in good part according the number of people in each apartment. It is not my case since where i live these are billed by the quarter and a person is considered in the count only if stays here for at least 123 days in one year, but in some places these expenses are billed by the week and the count is made weekly so a person that stay 4 days would impact as staying a whole week.
And I was not talking about someone that you really want to have in your home, but someone that asked to remain since someone else has dropped them.
The case that someone told me: «where I live we pay 18€ a week per person for water, heating and cleaning, if someone has guests for more than 3 days pays for additional people, it is fair, i told with the guest and said, oh, no problem, will give you even 3€ per day to cover costs if i can stay until i manage to go to my next place. Then after two days, that triggered the extra occupant, told that the person that had to host him reappeared and was moving there, gave me 5€ and ran away, so hosting him costed me 12€ unexpectedly».
SO yes, it the other person that failed to get next accommodation but not always it is their fault (once i had people that overstayed three days since the flight to next destination had been canceled and going there for just 1½ days did not worth the time, recently two girls for whom i did not feel safe to let them go to the next guest since they had asked me where they could buy a specific item that he had asked as a condition to go there). In these case you may be between not leaving them in an inconvenient situation or having to pay extra money for someone that after all has already stayed enough.

of course … it is 183 days, not 123 …

I always feel that only the initial hosting agreement is related to Couchers as a hospitality exchange platform. At least that’s how I understand why we have some set rules, because the platform is facilitating private encounters between strangers. You can’t make an advance judgement how that other person really is, but you should be safe to expect that they act within a common minimal understanding.

But when people know each other and make new plans, that seems to be beyond what Couchers’ set of rules is meant to guarantee? So I’d feel that’s not ‘on Couchers’ anymore and rather just up to them to agree on whatever they find appropriate.


Yeah, I don’t see why not just say “hey man, if you stay longer, I’ll be charged …, so I guess it’s fair if you pay that”.

Gotcha! But in the end it’s still the same, isn’t it? Whether it’s utility contribution or some occupancy related fee, it doesn’t matter. You either have to say “no” or explain your specific situation, e.g.: “My building/landlord charges €18/week flat rate for anyone who would stay longer than 3 days. You can stay longer but I can’t pay that fee for you, sorry”. The surfer will either pay that (Couchers handbook approved or not) or go elsewhere.

The payment like that is absolutely reasonable, if you ask me. The only reason why I would say “I can’t host you longer” rather than give somebody option to pay for additional days is simply for the fact that you never know which airheaded person will turn this against you. Reference: “Michaela was amazing host but at the end of my stay she asked me to pay €18 which made me really uncomfortable so I decided to leave her place”. Not worth it to me.

I would suggest anyone in the similar situation to clarify this on their profile to make guests aware in advance, e.g.: my landlord will ask for additional charges if you decide to stay longer than 3 days.


so I would see useful in the profile a field: ‘maximum stay’, that is different than preferred stay. It means that beyond that interval of time couchers rules do no longer apply, so it would avoid to have either embarassing situations or to have to put an explicit note in the profile, that could make the person appearing aggressive or unwilling, while other people could just skip and in case say “but it is normal if you stay for a long time”

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Honestly, I would rather reduce the number of those fields than add new ones. I don’t think the situation is that widespread, is it? So the field will be used by just a few people, and clog up home description for most users. Could work if we have n/a option that would mean that the field is just not displayed, as was discussed at some point: Hosting and Home preferences


I also rather see the purpose of checkmark fields in offering filters for search results (kids welcome, max x people, …) rather than avoiding misunderstandings about expectations or conditions. Isn’t this much clearer when spelled out as every user sees necessary or helpful?


I think you’re right that if you are in a situation like this as a host, you should have something short, simple, and clear like “maximum stay: 3 days” written under your “home” section somewhere. I do agree with others though that just writing it out however you see fit in one of the existing fields is probably best.

I think there are several different ways to approach this sort of situation as a host that are in the “spirit of hospitality,” and I generally trust well-intentioned adults to find solutions that seem fair to all involved.

I’m always glad to hear what’s actually happening out there in day-to-day Coucher interactions. If any guests/hosts find themselves in situations like this regularly, I would love to hear how it goes. What did the host say to the guests? How did they respond? etc. I think the forum is the perfect place to hear about that sort of thing so we can all learn from it, even if you believe it might be stretching the guidelines a little.

I know as a host I never want my guests to feel coerced into doing something, especially handing over money. Personally, I try really hard to decline pretty much anything my guests try to give me, as I find that just makes things simpler. If my landlord was charging me some kind of fee for having guests, I would just pay it and never let my guests know about it. I wouldn’t want them to feel they owe me or something.

But at the same time I know as a guest, I mostly just don’t want any surprises. If a host explained the situation to me honestly, and I wound up really needing to stay past those three days, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to offer some money. I mean I already know the place is great, and it’s cheaper than a hostel? Why not!

Personally, I think we just need to be careful not to create a culture where that sort of thing is typical. Like if guests are starting to ask themselves, “So is this still couch surfing? or just some clever freemium gateway drug for Airbnb rentals?” that’s probably not ideal. The world already has plenty of ways to find a place to stay for a fee. Let’s make sure Couchers remains a fee-free alternative to that kind of thing.

Personally I had no direct experiences, because it never occurred me, but I was sensibilized to this when some neighbors complained about me having too many guests and so wearing more than average the stairs and entrance, requiring more frequent clean, so someone proposed I should pay more for that. Someone had another kind of complaint and being also the only one with a ‘big’ family (where counting by the number would have made him the biggest payer) told that “there are laws that limit the number of guests you can have” and all agreed.
I read that laws and found that i can have up to 17 guests for 2 days, 9 for 182 days and 7 unlimited, but I have to pay extra only if someone stay for more than 182 days in one year (or 90 continuous) so the question ended there (and the extra is less than 30€/year); in other places the share of cleaning costs for common area is not divided as here according a [municipal] law [91.7% surface of flat, 8.3% number of occupants] but by contract and is not infrequent that such expenses are 50-50 or even 20-80 and number of occupant is counted monthly or weekly. So I never had this problem (on the contrary: the single highest cost having guests is washing beddings, so more time they stay the lower the cost) , but knowing the fact , and knowing many people that told me about their problem on hosting people i cared, and when someone told me about his problem in inviting people, because if they stay more than 24 hours would have to pay an additional week of cleaning i tried to have here an opinion.
So actually i did not know of any “answer”. I only know that two of them set an hard limit on hosting people, and no one asked them more than 2 day, and another one just di not advertised him as able to host, and when requested explained the case.

I’m happy to offer a place to freeloaders and think it’s a great feature of this platform that people with low income can freeload. But I respect that others think otherwise and don’t want freeloaders to build up a similar expectation towards future hosts. Take away lesson I got from this topic is that being explicit about your expectations is a best practice. I added this text to my profile:

I’m on this platform to contribute to an alternative to capitalist tourism. Please don’t bring me presents if I host you. It makes me feel like hospitality is an exchange, which I believe it is not, and I’m uncomfortable with the environmental effects of this kind of consumption. I’m open to host people at my house who just want a free place to stay. I hope you’ll be able to give hospitality without exchange to someone else. But if your situation does not allow that, I’m accepting of behaviour that some people call ‘freeloading’. However, many other people on this platform are not and that’s their good right! Please be aware that expectations from this platform vary and communication is key. I recommend being explicit about your goals and expectations of hosts and guests on your profile and in your requests.


I’m completely open to people who “need” a free place to stay. What is a freeloader anyway? It’s someone who offers nothing. They are consumers, they are a passive audience and expect to be entertained. They’re not interesting, they’re not doing anything interesting or socially positive, are greedy, focus only on money, on themselves, their pleasure and anything free, it’s a game to them, and they “win” the more they can take. For “free.”
I’m just a means to an end, to clean up, provide food, and fulfill personal requirements. How is that not exploitation, the heart of capitalism? So take take take. In what world is that rewarding to me?
Someone here had the best take. As a surfer, you don’t want any surprises. That’s why I have rules. I think I have a pretty nice place for “free” and I don’t need people treating it and me with disrespect, which is what people do with “free” things. Imposing the “cost” of following rules with the opposite of a hotel experience will discourage this kind of surfer I hope!
I feel hosts who are all in for any and all comers are male and have low standards. They don’t care if things are ruined, food and drink took, host’s possessions are treated indifferently at best. Regardless of income status, men almost always (don’t at me) have more funds and options, and the things they have to replace don’t cost much and are easy to get.
What is hospitality? it’s to make your guest feel comfortable, welcome, and at ease. Pretending money doesn’t exist or there isn’t a cost is foolish and just sets you up for abuse from those who are well aware of the price of others’ generosity. Believe me, they’ve calculated down to the penny how much more they get to spend on themselves and have zero intention of sharing it in any way to make their hosts’ lives easier. To make hosts feel good about hosting!!!
Bad surfers are incapable of gratitude, which is an insult. If you were a human being, you would do everything you could to show thanks, “even” without filthy lucre. Whether a gracious host will accept is up to them.