renungan / Travelling

I Offer You a Hospitality, Not a Hostel

It is kind of ironic. After I had posted my good impression on Couchsurfing (read here), I had my first bad experience of hosting people so far. This is worse than the suddenly-missing host I had in Milan, Italy. I don’t want to explain any detail about what had happened to me when I hosted this person. But one thing for sure, this experience I had is a lesson for me and for you who wants to be in someone’s couch or host other person. Both friends and “strangers” from Couchsurfing.

In my country, we know this “etika bertamu” or in English: the ethics of being a guest. I think other countries have these types of unwritten ethics also. The most important ethic is: respect your host and the rules of the house.

When we are planning our trip, it is better to question what are we going to do in that city and where are we going to stay. Of course, staying at someone’s couch is a good option to save our travel money! But as we have known already, every choice we make has plus & minus points. Staying at someone’s couch is different than staying at a hostel or hotel. Someone who let us crash on his/her couch surely do not want us to pay, he offer us his hospitality. Not a hostel! If we stay in a hostel/hotel, we surely will have a full control of everything. We can go and back whenever we like. Even going back to the hostel at 3AM in the morning is OK!

For me, I sleep before midnight because I have to pray before the sun rises and I always explain that to my guests. I had several guests who did’t have to pray in early morning then I tried not to wake my guests up when I prayed because I knew that they were tired after strolling around the city. I don’t expect anything from my guests except that they need to respect the rules of my couch/house.

Your host is a host. Not a hostel keeper who can open the door for you whenever you want to let you in.

Each host and house has different rules. For example, always asking permission if we want to use our host’s stuff, asking them if they are okay with our plan to leave and enter their house, and so on. I think you all already known what to do since I guess most of you have been in the position of being both a host or a surfer before.

So that’s all! I learn and reflect a lot from this experience. I also question myself, “was I a good guest?” I hope it won’t happen again in the future even when I become the guest later on.

No offence and best regards,

Taken from Couchsurfing’s website

Couchsurfing’s Hosting Tips:

  • Read the traveler’s profile carefully
  • Be clear about your expectations and house rules
  • Open your home to travelers and share your life

Couchsurfing’s Surfing tips

  • Read the host’s profile and send them a thoughtful, personalized message
  • Be clear about your expectations and plans
  • Be a respectful guest and stay curious

20 thoughts on “I Offer You a Hospitality, Not a Hostel

  1. So sorry to know that, Bhel. Indeed we need to put ourselves in others’ shoes. We treat others as we expect them to treat us. I previously wrote about the option of staying at hostels and at a couchsurfer’s house (, each of them has plus and minus, depend on what we expect in our stay.

    I had a not-so-good experience when I was in Jakarta. Two couchsurfers (a couple) contacted me and we agreed to meet up somewhere in Jakarta. I decided to make time to accompany them exploring the city. At first they postponed it. So, okay I was able to reschedule it. Then the following day they did not notify me at all, when and where we should meet because I have no idea where they stayed. I already cancel all my agenda that day to meet them. No news until a week later. Fiuhh..

    But I am sure more people are considerate and not like that. All we have to do is trying to be the best surfer and the best host that we can.

    Cheers, Bhella. 🙂

    • aaaa thank you Kak Icha for cheering me up. I had been looking for that link when I wrote this post. I remember that I read that before on yours, kak.

      yesss you are totally right kak. there are still zillion couchsurfers who really appreciate this community.

  2. Pingback: Opening My Heart and Mind Through #CouchSurfing | (lagi-lagi) kisah DUDUL seorang bhella bhello

  3. Well, actually that’s too kind of you, i wont let any stanger stay in my place istead well known relatives…..
    I guess you should understant too, weather she just enjoying the city and probably a lil bit “lupa waktu”
    I guess don’t bother about it, i guess deep inside you’re such a nice person…
    Next time, you set any rules before you accept to host somebady

    • I am cool now coz it has been a week B) but surely yes, I will set clear rules before especially to new person ^_^ tho I still want to open my couch maybe after my winter-break holiday.

  4. Dear
    I am very sorry to hear about your experience. Couchsurfing used to be a good place, a lot smaller than now and much more intimate. We had profiles, references, photos but last but not least pre-hosting correspondemce, skyping or whatsapp adds much to the experience you are going to make. I made a lot of friends on an international basis and the ones with whom I couldn’t get that close could teach me something new that I wouldn’t learn otherwise. Since the commercialisation of Couchsurfing in 2012 I stopped hosting people for free, instead take workaway or AirBnB while still having even better experiences than Couchsurfing. Here is my blog, it started out as a couchsurfing blog and now has evolved into an “ordinary” travel blog

  5. HI Bhella, I feel so sorry for your experience. To host on Couchsurfing you need to be strong, direct, sometimes cynical and yet polite and diplomatic. In Indonesian we say bersikap kurang ajar dengan sifat yang sopan. Apart from everything you need a good gut feeling for the profiles, photos and references. Skyping and pre-hosting correspondence is paramount. I have made good friends internationally and those who didn’t come quite close to me still could teach me a lot of new things. After Couchsurfing privatisation in 2012, I only invite people to a meal and show them around town. I hosted my last surfer in September 2013, a lovely German woma, very attentive and generous. Now my international subnetwork is so vast that I don’t need couchsurfing anymore, only host and surf within my subnetwork. Rather than setting rules, although I do have a few, it is better to look for somebody with natural hospitality ethics. This is my blog which evolved from a couchsurfing blog into an ordinary travel blog and my passion for food. Also when I want to meet people I host through AirBnB. Hosting people for free is nonsense and even in the golden era of Couchsurfing people offered me help around the house, technical repairs, money tips, invitations to a restaurant etc. These are my two blogs:

  6. I used to host some international friends in jakarta for free of charges in my house. I take them around for free of charges. Yes i feel so friendly and open heart. I never ever ask/expect any “thanks” words from them. Sometimes they just use my kindness. When the trip is done or over, then suddenly they are not friendly anymore to me in social media. They are only nice when there is a mutual benefit in certain times. That is all. Only God knows. They do not want to say hi at all in social media. Their reason is funny when i ask them why. They say i live so far away so no need to make daily chit chat hahaha odd huh?!. Well maybe if i live near by, they will be nice to me again hahaha. That is the point. It is my lesson. Maybe i am just not lucky and i just meet wrong people in the wrong times hahaha off course not all of them is that bad though

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