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Using Couchsurfing, the right way

I joined Couchsurfing some years ago. I was travelling to China for the first time, and I thought it would be a nice way to find accommodation, immerse myself in the culture and curb my expenses. I ended up staying with a friend in Shanghai, a work colleague in Suzhou and my company paid for the accommodation in Beijing.

My account remained unused and unchecked until a month ago. I was travelling to Tallinn and Helsinki and I wanted to give it a try, as part of my digital nomad lifestyle exploration. It didn't go that well.

I launched a bunch of hosting requests that went rejected or unanswered, so I decided to publish the details of my trip publicly. This way, local hosts could proactively offer to host me. I was just playing around with the platform and wasn't really expecting to have any offers. I was wrong, and a guy with more than forty positive reviews offered to host me, albeit only for the last couple of nights. I ended up accepting his offer and arranging a friend's couch and some Airbnb for the rest of my stay.

The guy ended up being an asshole. He was fine in face-to-face interactions but he was quite rude and borderline crazy over text message. His place wasn't well located, it was dirty as fuck, the mattress was extremely uncomfortable and he had no pillow to offer. I could totally deal with the bad accommodation conditions, but dealing with him created more than one uncomfortable situation. Having to depend on an unstable person in a foreign country is bound to create a bit of anxiety.

With the goal of learning from good and bad, here are some of the lessons that I think I've learnt:

Doing these things requires a bit of work. It also requires mastering communication and social skills. You'll have to find the right way to ask the questions above, building rapport while still being able to gather accurate information.

All is good in the pursuit of growth 😉