Ultimate Guide to CouchSurfing begins here.
Being able to find a host can be completely unreliable sometimes. Couchsurfing hosts are typically travelers who are not traveling at the moment. What happens during summer when most travelers are out and about? Suddenly you can’t find a host. There are a couple of ways to find hosts quickly and on short notice. Don’t abuse these or you start betraying trust.
Almost every city has an emergency group. If you search the city you are in and “emergency,” you’ll find a group of people willing to host someone who has no place to stay at a moment’s notice. What you post to this group is important; write about your trip, say you’ve been messaging hosts and haven’t gotten any accepting (this is something you should have actually done), and that you don’t have a place to stay if you don’t find one. Then watch it like a hawk. Sometimes it won’t be until 1AM that someone posts saying you can go to their place for the night.
Local Couchsurfers almost always have weekly meetups in their cities that are super fun to attend and a goldmine for finding a place to stay. When you meet someone face-to-face it’s easier to accept someone as a guest. A lot of times you can just make friends with people there and casually ask around for a place to stay, if you’re going to find anyone to let you crash it will be at a Couchsurfing party
A more subtle way to find someone is to first figure out who lives in the city and that you can get along with. Next, keep up a conversation, find their interests, and generally have a good time. Casually bring up you’ve been travelling using Couchsurfing and usually they will ask, “Wow, cool. Where are you staying tonight?” That is when you mention you don’t have a place and they say you can stay at theirs. Does it always work? No, but then you just ask around a bit more.
There is a point where you have essentially moved on from Couchsurfing. Eventually you will have had enough hosts and make enough friends in different places that you can just ask someone if they know someone where you are going that could host you. I did this for a total of maybe a month, just staying with people who were friends of hosts I got along with super well.
Of course the normal way of messaging hosts is the best place to start. You will have to send a lot of messages, and you will get turned down a lot. More references help, but it just happens. Don’t get frustrated or you’ll lose the idea of what you are trying to do.
Many hosts who take in a lot of people will have a secret sentence or code word in their descriptions to make sure you read it and didn’t copy and paste a message to them. You should always try and send a personal message to a host that shows your mutual interests, how interesting your trip is, and how you could teach them to play your ukulele or cook for them or whatever your traveling skill may be.
If you are having a really rough time finding a host, you can also get a good frame of a message and change a few things to make it seem tailored to the host including their secret term. Is it a betrayal of trust? I say no, you are still going to be a good guest to them, you just need to quicken your ability to send messages.
The possible mistrust or unethicality comes when you remember that Couchsurfing is meant to be just as much about meeting people than people giving you a place to sleep. It’s a thing to consider when people turn you down. Try not to get upset at people.
I never send messages to people with more than maybe 50-60 references. In my experience, they never accept as they probably have people with much more interesting stories than you or I asking them for a place to stay, and they will accept them first.