Why do you host? Why don’t you?

Hi all,

I’d like to hear other users’ thoughts about hosting, or not hosting. I’m really hoping for honest answers. There’s all kinds of reasons people might not host and I really don’t want to beat up on someone for sharing why they don’t, even if the answer is just “it feels weird to me”.

Do you surf using Couchers (or planning to)?
Do you host?
Why or why not?

I imagine people who are here on the forum are in deep enough that they’ve already considering hosting. But what do you all think about some kind of prompt asking people on the regular site to consider hosting? I imagine it’s the most important issue to a hospex site taking off behind actually getting more people on the site in the first place. At first I didn’t host people because I was in a single wide and didn’t think it was somewhere people would want to stay (the two times I had surfed being in a sailboat and a nice downtown high-rise). It took me meeting more people and seeing more places to realize that was bullshit. I have since heard about people hosting in their vans and all kinds of other places. I think there are lots of users who would consider hosting if they could just understand how important it is, how much fun it can be, and how little it really matters to a traveler what sort of arrangement they have as long as they are up front about it.

Thanks!
Ed

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Hi Cloudview (and all others who read this),

I host to meet new people and cultures without traveling.
Also I want to do something in return for those lovely people who did host me when I was traveling.
I still am using couchers (and similar) sites to meet the local culture, habits, customs, … which you can’t get in ho(s)tels or alike.

I have been hosted in several different places ranging from a “house” that barely did fit a double bed (yes, I had to share the bed with the host) and a sink to a villa with ample space and a private swimming pool.

I and most people here don’t expect any luxury, just a safe and warm feeling.
Never the less, I can understand a lot of people who don’t want to host for different reasons.
They might be “afraid” of people or did have bad previous experiences. (Good thing not everybody is the same)
They might think (like you did) that their house or living space is unfit. (Trust me, if you are able to cramp a second person in, you have ample space)
They expect that they have to arrange a lot or have to little time. (In my case, if you open the door for me when I arrive is already enough, if you don’t have time or anything, I can still go sightseeing myself)

Hope I could convince more people this way to host people, but if you (think) you can’t, I will not push you.
What ever you decide, be yourself and go as far as you feel fit.

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Do you surf using Couchers (or planning to)?
I do sometimes. Not so often. I don’t surf that much since I like to holidays in nature myself and since I don’t have much time for holidays anyways.

Do you host?
I do host and I try to accept every request I get. I do this for many reasons: cultural exchange, socializing etc. But there is one reason I’d like to light out since I think was underrepresented in the ‘active couchsurfing community’ and might also become underrepresented in the ‘active couchers community’. I host people to accomodate a free alternative to hotels. Honestly, I don’t mind if I don’t even meet my guests. If making my house available enables people with low income or from low currency countries to travel cheaply that’s a great thing if you ask me. Even if people do have money for a hotel I think offering them the free hotel experience is great since I detest the service economy at commercial hotels. I believe there were many people on couchsurfing with similar ideas. I.e. I’ve stayed with people that told me they were away for the week but explained that their spare key was somewhere in a plant trough. Socializing is great and as a host it’s okay to communicate that as an expectation from guests, but it’s not a necessary feature of couching.

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I host people to accomodate a free alternative to hotels. Honestly, I don’t mind if I don’t even meet my guests. If making my house available enables people with low income or from low currency countries to travel cheaply that’s a great thing if you ask me.

Hell yeah, 100% agree with this and yes it is a very underrepresented view. Do you get a lot of requests? I’ve only gotten about 20 requests a year so far and rarely turn them down (no hosts via Couchers yet). It’s been fine, but I wonder if having constant requests would make me think differently about it.

Also, it’s fun to tell my family that I let someone “from the internet” crash at my place while I’m away lol.


@richee

I host to meet new people and cultures without traveling.

This has been an incredible part of hosting I didn’t expect. You really can become a sort of hub for stories and information from all over without even moving.

Also I want to do something in return for those lovely people who did host me when I was traveling.

For sure! & I hope that everyone we host ends up feeling the same way about it.

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Blockquote Hell yeah, 100% agree with this and yes it is a very underrepresented view. Do you get a lot of requests? I’ve only gotten about 20 requests a year so far and rarely turn them down (no hosts via Couchers yet). It’s been fine, but I wonder if having constant requests would make me think differently about it.

Used to get 15-ish a year in a small city that’s cool but not special and doesn’t attract loads of tourist. During corona there were none for a while, now at couchers it’s gonna be less.

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I do host and find it annoying when people see it as a free hotel, which seems to be more today than 15 years ago when I started. But the issue for me is in the rudeness. I’ve hosted in popular cities, with 10+ requests a week, and often got a one-liners “Hi, can I stay?”.

I don’t need (and often don’t want) to hang out with my surfers. Many are 20 years younger than me and I don’t need frugal youngsters to cook me pasta and packet soups. I am also busy with my own work and friends. However, I do want to feel comfortable in my own home (I am a female living alone). A friendly and personalised couch request is one aspect of that.

I would actually be impressed if someone honestly said “I know we have nothing in common but I don’t have much money.” Maybe Couchers should address that in the FAQ. Maybe there could also be a filter option for “surfer needs to socialise?” for hosts. This could help manage expectations on both sides.

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Looking back over the last 10 years or so, what most affected the Why and How for me were the place and the circumstances I’ve lived in. I had a flat with a spare room in a busy city, I shared a flat, I lived very off in a tiny hut, now I’m living with family on the countryside in a spacious house.

And so when I got a lot of requests I could filter a lot as well and mostly host because I believed I could bond well with someone. When I had a spare room I felt more comfortable to host just out of curiosity or for offering a place to crush, even if I’d probably didn’t have much time or interests to share. When living really off I practically hosted everyone who wanted to come by and it was just nice to have a change of energy. When living by myself, I also hosted because I felt it made my house more welcoming in general. When living with family, flatmates or kids I’m generally much more cautious who’d I invite to come by,…

So yeah I feel rather than having set personal reasons, there can be a variety of incentives and rewards for hosting depending on circumstances.

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I host because…well, for several reasons.

  • I have space to host, and I deeply believe that any extra space should be shared. An empty room, couch, or even floorspace is a terrible thing to have in my home when there are so many people looking for shelter.
  • I believe everyone on earth has a right to shelter and shouldn’t have to pay for it. Probably a bit communisty but, really, basic needs like housing and food should be free. Those of us who can afford these things have a moral obligation to share with those who can’t pay or otherwise don’t want to for understandable reasons.
  • I believe that on top of basic needs, anything and everything we acquire in life is not truly ours. This is probably really weird sounding but I think that me having something means that there is less of it in the world. Or put another way, whatever you take from this world, you should give back equally, if not more.
  • I want to set an example for others. People err on the side of not trusting others, but every time i introduce my guests to my friends/family, I hope it creates a ripple effect demonstrating that people are inherently good.

Not directly related to hosting and kinda personal, but I grew up in such an awful and neglectful household that I truly don’t want anyone else to ever suffer for anything. On top of that, I had no community growing up, so I am really dedicated toward creating communities for people who don’t have one. If I can help others feel loved/cared for/supported, it’s the least I can do to make the world a better place. By hosting people in my home and doing events I also get more chances to do that on a regular basis. :slight_smile:

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@alsion

Many are 20 years younger than me and I don’t need frugal youngsters to cook me pasta and packet soups.

:rofl: you know, the last one who cooked me top ramen actually had an interesting tip- they put peanut butter in it. Seemed gross at first but it was like a very simple pad thai and turned out really good.

But the issue for me is in the rudeness. I’ve hosted in popular cities, with 10+ requests a week, and often got a one-liners “Hi, can I stay?”.

That sucks- hopefully they are just young people who haven’t figured it out yet. This would be too much with 10+ a week, but for the few rude ones I’ve gotten I sent them a message back saying so, one actually ended up being a great guest.

The safety part of it makes a lot of sense, you can learn a lot from a few messages.
& I like the last idea though don’t know about having so many filters.


@nolo

That’s sweet that you have gotten to experience a bit of it all. Which setting has been your favorite, (if you can pick)?

When living really off I practically hosted everyone who wanted to come by and it was just nice to have a change of energy. When living by myself, I also hosted because I felt it made my house more welcoming in general

For sure. I think there is some sort of cosmic value that a place can have- when you share a place with people, allowing for their paths to be positively impacted, the place is more valuable to the world. So many properties have beautiful views and nice big houses and cost a lot, but nobody gets to experience it besides the owner. It seems like a waste.


@Emily

Wow really good post, feels like you’ve pulled ideas straight out of my head but explained them better than I could.

I have space to host, and I deeply believe that any extra space should be shared. An empty room, couch, or even floorspace is a terrible thing to have in my home when there are so many people looking for shelter. … Those of us who can afford these things have a moral obligation to share with those who can’t pay or otherwise don’t want to for understandable reasons.

Similar to Stijn was saying above & not something I’ve seen talked about much yet in the hospex community- maybe people are trying not to scare away new potential hosts by posting that in public-facing forums lol. It’s more “You can have a lot of fun hosting people” instead of “You should do this because you live on stolen land and need to try and right the wrongs of capitalism”.

I want to set an example for others. People err on the side of not trusting others, but every time i introduce my guests to my friends/family, I hope it creates a ripple effect demonstrating that people are inherently good.

That rocks. In my experience people respond very well to being trusted.
People in the US are really preoccupied with being robbed, even in areas with basically no crime. I’ve had neighbors and family tell me I should put up “no trespassing” signs, very common out here in Montana, I hate the idea. The reasoning being “it’s just a sign, it gives you legal protection” etc.
But with all the fences and “no trespassing” signs we’ve created a community where that’s the norm, everywhere you look is something telling you “you can’t be here” & creating this expectation that you cannot go anywhere that isn’t legally outlined for you to go.

The last part is very nice to read btw.

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Ha I didn’t mean to insult people’s cooking, I remember being a student and travelling on a budget. I feel privileged to share my relative wealth (contents of my fridge) now.

@stijn and @Emily, thanks for making me think. I already started accepting more surf requests even when it’s not so convenient for me.

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Ahahha I never even thought of it that way, but it’s so true. I fuckin’ hate capitalism man!!! Thanks for your thoughtful reply and compliments :slight_smile:

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even here [Italia, EU] is the same: if in your land you put the no trapassing sign you are legally protected, in case one enter and fall in an hole, from being sued for damages. Often the sign has just this reason.

That’s unfortunate but good to know. I’ve heard from guests that there are places where it isn’t treated that way yet.

I have an idea about using signs that say,
instead of
“No trespassing, no hunting, under penalty of law” having something that would say
“Contact the owner (name/number) before coming onto the property”.

It would have to offer similar legal protection (which I don’t know) and then land owners would have to be convinced to switch. This issue has some broader appeal in our area where new out of state land owners block access to public land or places for hunting that old-timers understood the importance of keeping open

No, it is not enough, to avoid legal risks you must explicitely forbid the entrance. Telling to cantact the owner does not mean that people is not authorized to enter, for example it could have been written to have lighting on …
I live in a flat complex that have three coowned parks in the middle and around.
One has no signs, the other two have a lot of no trapassing signs and gates (that are not locked), but no one has ever sent away people, even not resident that used these (well, once someone was kicked off, but she had parked a truck in the park!) . The reason one has not and the two others have is that the first one is a collective property of all flat owner, and is covered by insurance, while the other two for historical reason are owned only by a part of the flat owners, and are not covered by owner insurance, hence the signs.