Couchsurfing for settled people

I was very actively hosting and surfing from 2007-2011 . I still have friends made in that period. Both locally and from hosting/surfing. Most of them now are settled, often have children. Most stopped actively hosting and surfing long ago. But some stayed active in the local communities.

How can surfing and hosting be made attractive (again) for those people? Can friends from friends be easily checked by that friend in the middle? Can I filter on only couples without children? Can I search for hosts with children of the age of my children? Can my teenage child find a safe couch? Can I surf without feeling the social pressure of having to host?

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These are all really good points. My take would be that good local events that are family friendly could help create that culture even where search filters or site features fall short. It’s vital that we get people out meeting others who can spread the awareness or principles behind hospex in a way that’s appealing to others. When you see families hosting, meet them and hear their stories it’s always inspirational. Often people think they can’t do something but it’s generally only because they’ve never seen someone else doing it.

I love the idea of being able to search your friends friends for hosts. Especially since Id rather find a great host first and thus let that decide where I go.

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I’m seeing a lot of feedback about this in our signup forms, so I just wanted to resurrect the topic while it’s fresh and there are new members coming to the forum.

What kind of tools can we add to make couch-surfing easier for families? I’m seeing a lot of suggestions for filters or “family” profiles and I think those ideas are great… not sure how easy those are to implement in practice, but the more you can customize your Couchers.org experience, the better!

If we look at when Couchsurfing.com started (around 2006) and now, it’s a 15-year trajectory. I’m sure there are much more hosts/surfers with families now then there were then. If it’s not too bold to say, I would also suggest that “settling down” or having a family was a major barrier to using CS in general and would be a cause for people to leave the site. Maybe there is an important gap to fill there.

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As a younger being (most likely childless and single) you very often do not care where you end up and how your couch is going to look like. It’s all about experience. As a parent/settled person in your thirties/forties you do not want you or your kids to sleep on a floor, use a bathroom that hasn’t been cleaned for months or only being allowed to come to a place at certain hours (sometimes really late). You are responsible for other human being/s and you want them to be super safe and comfortable. I personally can’t see myself using hospex platforms as a guest anymore and will always opt for Airbnb or hotels. I am not really sure how to make surfing attractive for settled people like me and fill the gap without causing surfers to become more demanding and treating hospex like a hotel… but if I should be completely honest with you: as a settled person I can’t see myself to be in a position of a surfer unless the host clearly states that their home is being regularly CLEANED, has clean bedding, towels and a suitable sleeping arrangements (= not a dirty mattress or bare floor). Something in a form of a badge that could be received if the host’s home meet certain criteria. I know I know I know. You don’t need to tell me- it is super demanding and I am aware of it. It might cause more harm than good in the end but I just wanted to share with you why couchsurfing/couchers isn’t attractive for me as a surfer anymore and why I am only here to host.

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I totally understand where you’re coming from to be honest. Cleanliness is a huge deal to me now, too, especially since I live alone now. I am still willing to accept fairly low standards but now I guess to avoid that possibility I go for older hosts who seem established and settled themselves.

Maybe there could be a special stamp of approval for hosts that hosted families or have families and get positive references from them.

CS used to have a very active group for families if I remember correctly. I imagine a lot of user connections were done though this group directly instead of by location search.
First point: thematic groups
What kind of things could be done with thematic groups instead of only having the location communities (both are useful for different things) is a topic by itself of course. But when it comes to finding hosts that belong to a specific group we could think about either having in-group user maps (users can opt in/out of being included in this map).
Or having a filter “belonging to my groups” inside the general user search. This could either be a one-for-all filter, which would become less useful the more groups you have. Or one could set a single group from the groups they belong to as filter.

Pretty sure that connected to that family group was also a badge that was displayed on profiles and could be set as a filter in the search. It has been a while and I’ve never been a family couchsurfer myself so my memory is a a little foggy.
Second point: setting & filter
We already have the “accept children” setting on the profile right now. But I think it’s not enough.
What I would like to see is a mandatory text field (let’s call it “information for families”) that would pop up when the “accept children” checkmark is set. As @michaela said once you travel with kids you need a lot more information about your host. It’s not enough to declare you have a family friendly home, you also need to explain what that means.
This setting needs to be a filter for the search as well.
And I think that was brought up somewhere else already, how do we include kids in the “number of guests”? Still an important point to discuss I think.

A “family friendly” badge could also be something that is only awarded through in-person interaction (kind of like verification is supposed to work, or vouching used to work on CS).
Maybe people that belong to the family surfers group can have the option of rewarding it as part of their review after a stay. And once a host has received it a specific amount of time, it shows up on the profile and in the search.

Ok, those were a few ideas I’ve had about the topic so far. It’s definitely something that I think about, even though I don’t have kids myself. I think having families as active members of this community makes it a better community.

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It would be wonderful to be able to in the search have an “accepting families” button or something.
Since Ive only surfed on my own a few times, I was “family” on CS from the start I guess. We just became more when our daughter arrived. :wink:

And in our family we have an Airbnb room. It’s just that smart, nice and social people get it for free through sites like this, the rest pay us through Airbnb.

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I think the main issue with families is that: it is not easy to host a family.

The first problem is adequate space. Most people don´t have 3 or more extra beds. I can accommodate 3 people, but 2 of them will get mattresses on the floor. I had surfers doing that, but I would feel terrible to offer that to a family, it feels inappropriate, IDK. I am not a family household, but I imagine that if you have 2 kids you don´t have that much unused space for guests because your kids need that space? (maybe I´m wrong, it would be nice to have a family input on this).

But I think we should try. Even if they can´t host/surf due to space restrictions, it would be great if families could at least find each other, meet, hang out, show each other around. To be honest, if a family reaches out to me I could show them around and know a couple of places kids may enjoy, but that´s it. I have no idea what restaurants have a playground, neither am I up to date with events and activities for kids. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I think a simple checkbox for “family household” that con be used as a filter would go a long way. I don´t think any hospex facilitates families finding each other. It would be a great step forward to integrate them into the community. Maybe they can host, maybe they can´t, but I´m pretty sure they´ll love to meet and hang out. I´m pretty sure they will be happy to have family friendly events where kids can play and parents can hang out.

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