I think the hardest thing about having someone couchsurf is losing your living room for the two or three days that they’re here. It kind of felt like walking into someone’s bedroom, really. Not that I use my living room for much other than watching tv, but it seemed that not having access to it, made me suddenly need it. Hey wait! Hoarders is on! Oh….right, tv’s in the living room. Hey wait! I need a new ball of yarn! Oh….right, yarn’s in the living room. Hey wait! I’ll watch a dvd….right, in the living room.
That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy having couchsurfers stay with me. I do. I get to meet new and interesting people, and I get to show off my city, which I think is under-valued as far as tourist destinations go. And all three of the couchsurfers that have stayed with me have been fantastic guests – they’ve been quiet, clean, friendly, and independent. What more could you ask for in a guest?
I’ve written about couchsurfing before, but that was before I had the actually experience. I thought that now that I have had the opportunity to let someone I don’t know into my home, I’d write about it.
I’ve never felt unsafe with a couchsurfer. I have said “no” to people who have requested the use of my couch – either because I was busy, or because something about their profile made them appear to be not my kind of person. (Maybe they had too many photos of drinking, maybe they were too young or too old to be compatible, maybe they didn’t have any references for me to check how good of a guest they would be.)
But I do check the references, and I do read their profiles. I want to know a bit about the person I’m about to let into my home. Likewise, I trust that they’ve read my profile, andk now what they are getting in return. For example – I have cats. That’s right there in my profile (not to mention there’s a photo of them) and anyone who is severely allergic might not want to stay here.
It is a little imposing, having someone else in your living room. Perhaps if I had a seperate bed room for them it would be different, the living room would be a more communal space. This is possibly the hardest part about hosting, losing my communal space.
My rules haven’t changed, after having the actual experience. My bedroom is off-limits, but the rest of the apartment isn’t. They are welcome to use the kitchen, and the coffee and/or tea is fair game. So far, all three couch surfers have bought and eaten their own food, although I don’t have a problem sharing what’s in the fridge or pantry. I think if the couch surfer were staying longer, I’d adjust that rule; but for two or three nights, it seems silly to say no. They get a key, so that they can come and go as they please. Again, it seems silly to say “You can stay here, but you have to leave at 7 in the morning, when I do.” Having read their references, I don’t feel like I am taking a big risk in letting them be here alone.
I’m enjoying being part of the couch surfing experience, and I hope someday to be able to couchsurf myself, to see it from the other side.